Event | Impact Summit | Inside FutureX / June 15, 2020

Reflecting on Impact Summit 2020

On the 20th of May, we welcomed over 500 visionaries and changemakers to the third annual Impact Summit 2020 – and our first virtual event! It was an incredible day, with over 40 global leaders of the purpose-led movement sharing their expertise and insights.

Of course, this year’s Impact Summit was not what we envisioned when we started planning last year. Like the rest of the world, the Covid-19 crisis has affected every part of our lives, forcing us all to rethink how we create value for our customers, partners and stakeholders. 

Pivoting Impact Summit 2020 online may not have been in the plan, but it was in line with our vision at FutureX. As the world becomes increasingly digital, we believe that the future of events is a hybrid online-offline experience, breaking down barriers and becoming more accessible and inclusive for everyone across the world. 

This year, your feedback was more crucial than ever before – and your response has been overwhelming. We’ve taken the time to reflect on the triumphs from Impact Summit 2020, as well as how we can improve our events in the years to come. By sharing this reflection with you, we’re also inviting you to join the conversation and help us shape the future of Impact Summit.

Connection & community

Over the last three years, we’ve worked hard to foster a like-minded community at Impact Summit. For our attendees, partners and exhibitors, these connections lead to valuable new collaborations and business opportunities. 

4.5/5 Attendee rating

Networking is simple at physical events: we offer coffee and snacks, and you do what you do best – mingle and start conversations. Bringing these conversations online was a challenge, but one that we were raring to meet!

We decided on two networking platforms to give you a choice of how to connect: Slack, an instant messaging platform, and Remo, a virtual space to meet others via video chat.

While most of you enjoyed Remo and created valuable connections, a few people had issues. Most attendees, speakers and exhibitors dove in, connecting at small virtual tables and sharing resources. Moving around the tables created spontaneity, offering the chance to meet many new faces.

However, as Remo was a new platform for most of our audience, coupled with some minor technical issues at the beginning of the day, it wasn’t always clear how to access or make the most of the space.  

1 hr 45 Avg. time in Remo

For future online events, we’re looking at how to help people ease into new platforms, including creating video demonstrations in advance so you know what to expect.

On Slack, many people took the opportunity to introduce themselves to the other attendees, with heaps of sparks of connection and collaboration spotted on the day. However, we were perhaps guilty of overloading the channels, creating a lot of noise – in the future, we’ll refine the channels (and drop the Twitter feed!). Out of all messages sent in Slack, 63% were sent as direct messages and 37% were sent in public channels.

63% direct messages
37% public channels

Accessibility is always top of our minds – and moving Impact Summit online made the event more accessible than ever before. We were able to reduce the cost of tickets and, while we didn’t account for virtual networking in time zones outside of the UK, the various ticket options meant that anyone with an internet connection could get involved. Unfortunately, we overlooked closed captions on our videos, which we’ll be working towards integrating into future online events.

Diversity

We’ve always been conscious of the power of diversity and inclusion. While we consistently get close to our 50-50 gender split goal, our ethnic and racial diversity has lagged behind. There is more that we can – and must – do. 

Speakers

3 out of 45 speakers identified as BME

52% Woman
48% Men

Attendees

100 cities and 21 countries represented

58% Woman
42% Men

Both Black Lives Matter and the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted that people of colour are disproportionately affected by global crises. We’ve been listening and learning – and the time has come to make a conscious, considered effort to improve. We must take direct action to dismantle systemic racism. 

We will amplify diverse voices and world views at Impact Summit and throughout the year. By reaching out to BAME communities to share their purpose-led business stories on our blog, resource hub and social media channels, we’ll actively promote a variety of opinions within the movement. If you have anything you’d like to submit, or someone that you think would be perfect for these blogs, we’d love to hear from you!

But it’s not enough to simply open up the doors: we must complement this amplification by creating opportunities to overcome commercial barriers. Each year, we run a bursary ticket programme, and we’ll be implementing exhibitor bursaries soon – you’ll see these rolling out over the next few months. 

To hold ourselves accountable to our diversity goals, we’ve pledged to work towards a goal of 30% BAME-identifying speakers. 

This commitment is ambitious but within our reach. We have more ideas in the works to improve our diversity and inclusion in our events and programmes – watch this space!

Sustainability

Moving Impact Summit online had an immediate, positive impact on our environmental footprint. We didn’t use any single-use plastics, lanyards or stage sets (though these will have to be addressed as we reintroduce physical events) – and, critically, no one had to travel. 

In April, we announced a new partnership with Zero Waste Scotland. Sustainability is at the core of every decision we make, and we hope that this partnership will help us continue to reduce our waste and meet our sustainability goals – and empower other businesses to do the same. 

The future of Impact Summit

The ideal Impact Summit is one that reflects the diverse range of worldviews, experiences and opinions in the global purpose-led movement. The future of Impact Summit is a globally accessible, inclusive event that brings the current and future leaders of the purpose-led business movement together.

This year was a step in the right direction, but we aren’t there yet!

We’re excited to build on this momentum in the years to come. Until then, we’ll take the learning from this reflection, make changes and continue to grow. We’d love to hear what you think about our vision! If you have any suggestions, concerns or want to support us in our goals and commitments, please get in touch

See you at Impact Summit 2021!