Editorial Note: Originally published in the April 2023 issue of Trade Show Executive magazine.

Change is all around us this time of year. The seasons are transitioning, animals and flowers reappear as temperatures warm, and the amount of daylight bestowed upon us increases each day. Spring is upon us in the U.S., and you do not have to look far to appreciate the reminders of renewal and growth surrounding us.

The business universe rarely takes its cues from nature, but the understanding that adaptability is key to survival and evolution is equally important in business as it is in the natural realm. I fully acknowledge we are going into our third year of adapting at alarming rates as an industry besieged by the effects of the pandemic. We have been turned upside down and inside out, and it has been downright painful. But that is not what I am referring to.

The adaptability and change I am talking about are the highly beneficial aspects involved with social responsibility. IAEE breaks down social responsibility to four areas: environmental sustainability, personal responsibility, community relations and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Environmental Sustainability. The trade show industry has been moving its events in a more environmentally sustainable direction for some time now, albeit slowly. Some shows are more cognizant than others about reducing their environmental impact. There is a renewed sense of enthusiasm for making concerted advancements in this area, as illustrated by the Events Industry Council’s Sustainability Education and Certification Journey, of which IAEE is a proud participant. Executives are wise to incorporate robust sustainability action plans into their events.

Personal Responsibility. Health and safety at exhibitions have become a greater consideration as our industry recovers from the pandemic. One way in which IAEE has addressed this is by teaming with GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council), a division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association. In addition to offering a training course designed to prepare for, respond to and recover from biohazards in the workplace, IAEE offers the Infection Disease Awareness Course from GBAC Academy. We understand that COVID is not going to magically disappear and that other diseases are bound to follow. While we cannot do anything about their existence, we are more prepared than ever to face the challenges they may present.

Another aspect to personal responsibility is producing exhibitions that adhere to strict anti-suitcasing policies. In addition, show organizers should clearly communicate their expectations for event stakeholders on acceptable actions and behaviors (presenting a responsible drinking culture, for example).

Community Relations. I believe one of our industry’s greatest accomplishments is the impact we have on the communities in which our shows are held. As the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has reported, our economic impact is both powerful and empowering. It has also become commonplace for shows to hold activities that benefit local charities and organizations. Attendees are eager to make a difference and leave a positive imprint on the communities that graciously host our face-to-face marketplaces.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As I have noted in other columns, embracing DE&I is integral to our future and executives are wise to take action if you haven’t already. There is so much talent waiting to take our organizations to unprecedented levels of growth. Creating an environment in which DE&I flourishes is a win-win for everyone.

This time of year is all about fresh and new beginnings that lead to growth. This month, I call on fellow executive leaders to embrace this opportunity to revamp their organizations’ social responsibility policies and practices as needed for continued success.

David DuBois, CMP Fellow, CAE, FASAE, CTA
IAEE President & CEO
Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance Co-President

Posted by Editorial Staff

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