The growing trend amongst clients these days is to publish their corporate credentials. Anything counts it seems from standard corporate social responsibility missives to statements about “touching and improving lives” and “making life better”. Wikipedia use the phrase “honoring of a triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profit.”
The practice of corporate social responsibility or governance has been subject to much debate and criticism over the last few years. Proponents argue that there is a strong business case for it, in that corporations benefit in numerous ways by operating with a perspective broader and longer than their own immediate, short-term profits. However critics argue that governance distracts from the fundamental economic role of businesses and others still argue that it is nothing more than superficial whitewash, with others yet arguing that it is an attempt to pre-empt the role of governments as a watchdog over powerful corporate organisations. Corporate Social Responsibility has been constantly redefined throughout the years. However, it essentially is conceived to aid an organisation’s mission as well as act as a guide to what the company stands for and will uphold to its consumers. Yet it seems that exhibitors have been so focussed with measuring their ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) that it appears evidence of social responsibility is rarely evident on stand. Are the two exclusive? Taking a cynical view I have witnessed it at defence shows, as if cloaking weapons of destruction soften their payload and on ‘Green’ events where many items are recycled. Is that it?
Surely modern businesses should be making their values and initiatives more public and evident on their exhibiting presence? If the zeitgeist exists, are private organisations not all in the business of supply and demand?
Rather than adding ever more creative floral displays or yet more gimmicky gimmicks, could the attraction be linked to these purported values? To my mind, an exhibiting energy company, as an example, dishing out freebie energy saving light bulbs smacks of tokenism. How refreshing would it be if an exhibitor went the extra mile and practiced what they preached on their stand as a beacon to others? Come on you ‘corporates’ out there – wow us with your beliefs and philosophies and let us see your true colours shining brightly from your exhibits. You never know, it might start a new trend . . .