B Corp, company with a mission, ESUS: so many certifications that highlight the commitments of an impact company. “We are all in the process of building the company of tomorrow”, stated Laurence Grandcolas, founder of MySezame, labeled Empresa Solidária de Utilidade Social (ESUS), a company with a mission and B Corp during the roundtable.
What is an impact business?
Some have an impact on their genes, such as MySezame, which has focused its activity on supporting business leaders in their transition to a “more social, sustainable and inclusive” economy, explains Laurence Grandcolas. Others “converted” to impact once the business was established. This is the case of Alenvi, an ESUS certified company with a mission, presented by its co-founder Guillaume Desnoes. Positioned in the area of home help, the company has intended from the beginning to humanize support for the elderly, valuing the work of the professionals who work there. Despite this social activity, the company was not from the beginning considered a company with a mission, since its offer was initially reserved for a category “that had the means”, specifies Guillaume Desnoes. Many impact investment funds have criticized the company for the lack of accessibility of its services, prompting the co-founders to redesign Alenvi. “We realized that our ambition went beyond just setting up our business. We wanted to change our entire sector”, confides Guillaume Desnoes.
The same is true of HomeExchange, the world leader in home exchange, of which Emmanuel Arnaud is the CEO. “When I created my box, I was super happy to be part of the collaborative economy, we had the impression that another form of capitalism, collaborative capitalism, was possible”, explains the manager, who continues: “there is an impact fund that told us that we didn’t have enough impact. For others, we were, but they did not correspond to us”. With the aim of driving an ambitious impact policy for HomeExchange, Emmanuel Arnaud admits that becoming an impact company involves “perpetual trial and error” to reconcile social commitments and economic realities. HomeExchange is currently in the process of B Corp certification.
What certifications are possible?
The status of company with a mission was established by the Pacte law in 2019 with the aim of adding quality to companies committed to social, solidarity or environmental values, adding this status to the pre-existing status of SAS, SARL, etc. .
“The reality of a company with a mission is that it obliges you towards its employees, the company, the customers”, develops Laurence Grandcolas. And yet, far from being an embarrassment, it is a real lever for Guillaume Desnoes. “On the contrary, it allowed us to align our business practice with our values”, confirms the co-founder of Alenvi, stating that the fact that it is a company with a mission in the home help sector, which is not common, puts them “in a rewarding position” bringing them “a change of perspective on their business”. In addition to the status of a company with a mission, Alenvi combines certifications with the ESUS seal. Created in 2014, it recognizes French companies that base their values on non-profit governance shared with their employees. If the “company with a mission” recognition and the ESUS seal are only French, the B Corp certification is international. “The reason we committed to getting B Corp is because it’s American and we’re an international box with employees overseas,” says Emmanuel Arnaud. To be certified as a B Corp, companies must modify their bylaws and then answer a questionnaire, the B impact assessment, which will then be audited and reviewed by the certification members. Not to mention that B Corp certification works differently from French certifications, as it has a scoring system, which requires obtaining at least 80 out of 200 to be certified. Another added value, as Emmanuel Arnaud sees there as an opportunity to “always improve”. These different systems “continue, however, to be tools”, specifies Laurence Grandcolas, who recognizes that the priority is to think about “the development of the company itself in the corporate field”, because as a manager or company, the means to commit to an economy social and sustainable are not lacking.