Driving Impact: Integrating CSR and Economic Sustainability in Events

Tamsyn Barker, Managing Director of FIRST APAC,  joined a panel of sustainability professionals at the 2023 C&IT Sustainability Forum to explore the role that economic sustainability, CSR initiatives, and resilience play in achieving sustainability goals. Alongside her fellow panelists, Tamsyn shared valuable insights on channeling economic sustainability into holistic sustainability strategies, lessons, and practical takeaways to support impactful change in the brand experience, event marketing, and creative industry.

With over 25 years in the experiential marketing space across Australia, Asia, and Europe, Tamsyn possesses a keen understanding of the cultural nuances that drive brand success and is responsible for leading the Asia-Pacific region at FIRST and driving business growth internationally.

Tamsyn also passionately leads our global ESG initiative at FIRST that we, aptly, call Paramount. Tamsyn has driven company-wide audits into our sustainability standards, helped create the framework to which FIRST now holds itself, supported and run internal training programs, and steered the collaborative creation of our responsible business commitments that are driven by the dedicated Paramount team, whose mission is to build a culture that supports People, Purpose & Planet. The team’s core focus as we enter 2024, is on the further development and integration of the agency’s sustainability strategy and ESG performance and reporting.

Tamsyn Barker FIRST Agency

“Our goal is to be constantly innovating and educating to create tangible change.
To not just offset, but to actively increase our positive impact on both our People & our Planet.”

On her top takeaway from the panel and the thoughtful discussion that was had on the day, Tamsyn shared: “I think it’s really about collaboration and communication: really making sure that every conversation is genuine that you are speaking both up and down your stakeholder ecosystem, from clients to suppliers and really making sure that every conversation is driving the communication, the education and the implication [of our actions] to the best of its ability.”

Reflecting on our capacity to influence change into 2024 and beyond, the state of the industry in 2023, as well as the broader landscape of post-pandemic recovery and prevailing economic instability, Tamsyn said: “I think as an industry, we’ve got a lot of work to do in terms of further collaboration as a group, as a whole, to really push the needle on the way that we’re designing our events and influencing the outcome on them a little bit better as a group.”

Click here to learn more about our ESG commitments at FIRST.

Our top tips for keeping momentum with your sustainability journey and ESG strategy:

-1- Don’t Be An Island 

Communication, collaboration and education is key.

It’s undeniable that 2023 has seen a significant increase in the investment in sustainable futures. However, the sentiment is felt at the many industry discussions FIRST has been a part of, that, as an industry, the amount of conversation on the topic outweighs the rate of meaningful change and positive impact.

“What the industry is doing and saying has been the same for quite some time. How can we really start to bring new ideas and positive change to the global event landscape? No singular client or agency can do this, it needs to be a conversation we have as a group.”


-2- Don’t Return To ‘Normal’

Embrace the new ways of working, communicating and connecting.

Coming out of the pandemic with a burning desire for connection, the industry has been very quick to put people on planes and get them to events again. This is really one of the biggest areas of impact for the industry.

“We have to embrace hybrid the way that we thought we would after delivering only virtual events during the pandemic. We need to start questioning again the importance of really bringing people together. Yes, we need to understand the potential economic risk or gain but in doing nothing, the negative impact is tremendous.”


-3- Don’t Stop Questioning

Get comfortable with asking ‘why are we doing this’ and ‘how can we do this better’ at the start, middle and end.

Whether you’re thinking about next year’s event marketing plan, in the process of delivering an experiential activation or reflecting on a year of brand experiences, it can not be stressed enough the importance of a robust strategy if you have any hopes of achieving meaningful ESG goals. Sustainability must be part of every conversation with clients, suppliers and

“Sustainability must be a part of every conversation with clients, suppliers and in our own agency teams. It can not be the final agenda item that becomes the first to be overlooked when time is precious. It should be leading the agenda and every conversation feeling into it.”


Wherever you’re at in your sustainability journey, contact us if you’re looking to amplify the impact of your ESG strategy.