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November 17, 2009

Jani Kaskinen:Time for a global measurement for CSR

The chief executive of Hotelzon says corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be more than just a tick in the right box.

For an outsider looking in, the business travel sector is shrouded in mystery as we bandy about three-letter acronyms (TLAs), such as RFPs, ARR, DDR and so on.     
Within our field, we are all confident about what they mean and happily carry out our daily routines incorporating them into our office chat.
However, it is RFP season again, and we are seeing corporates taking CSR more seriously as they seek ‘requests for proposal’ for their 2010-11 travel and meetings policies.
Topping the agenda
While we all understand the need to demonstrate implementation, account management, reporting and pricing, we are seeing an increasing demand for comprehensible CSR policies that relate both to our internal policy and those of our outsourced partners. CSR, corporate social responsibility, is now at the top of the agenda, as corporations apply their environmental concerns to their travel procurement policies.  
Recent research* indicates that CSR is held in such high esteem on the corporate balance sheet that more than 75% of the FTSE-100 produce CSR reports. However, CSR’s reach within the hotel sector stretches in every direction: from measuring food miles to fair-trade, carbon emissions to waste disposal and even how to capitalise on public transport for guests and delegates.

Beyond the acronyms
Many hoteliers have resorted to creating their own policies. However, these are self-governing and they all differ in the criteria used to measure them. And surely a tick box on the RFP for a CSR policy should not suffice?
A simple search on the web will highlight just how many variables there are in the measurement of CSR policies in the hotel sector. Surely the time has come for corporates to go beyond the three-letter acronyms and walk the talk, by giving more than a tick box for CSR and acknowledging that the industry needs one standard measurement for corporate social responsibility?       
*Research carried out by Redefining CSR by Tomorrow's Company, an educational charity focused on encouraging ethical businesses.
Jani Kaskinen is the chief executive of Hotelzon

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