CSR: the seven virtues of responsible business

“The acceleration is of great magnitude,” according to Jacques Pommeraud, Administrative Director for Africa, France and Government Services at Bureau Veritas. The latter estimates that half of the sales of this specialist in inspection and certification are linked to the issue of social (or social) responsibility of organizations, the famous CSR. Regardless of their size, companies should opt “for procedures that are traceable and validated by trusted third parties, instead of declarative processes, in order to generate maximum trust, analyzes the manager: repositories are multiple and evolving, the trajectory is complex calculations, suspicious public opinion”. It is that in terms of CSR, “you have to be pragmatic and humble, and do what you say internally before communicating”, say the experts.

We have entered a new phase in business management, it is accepted within the association for the management of business and insurance risks (Amrae): the parameters of sustainability. The question of risk becomes: does the company have a useful and sustainable activity and does it understand the expectations of its stakeholders? “. CSR, adds Frédéric Chaplain, director of property insurance at brokerage Verlingue, “is becoming a parameter in its own right in the company’s general risk management; in the very short term, insurers and reinsurers will include this parameter at the center of their analyzes before issuing guarantees.” Veolia, a giant in water, energy and waste management services, has sought to transform the constraints linked to the health crisis into “differentiating performance”, explains Oliver Wild, its risk manager, insurance and control Today, the brand communicates the domain of a triple know-how: guarantee the continuity of the service, guaranteeing the decontamination of the production lines and the safety of the stakeholders.

Acceleration. World leader in the processing of plant ingredients, the industrial group from Lille Roquette consumes a lot of water. In the North, it invested in a wastewater treatment plant that generates savings and, in passing, preserves biodiversity. In Canada, it recently opened the world’s largest pea processing plant with producers in order to limit environmental impacts. Concerned with guaranteeing its supply, Maisons du Monde, a French decoration brand with an international DNA, has launched a new range of sustainable products made in Europe. “The third era of Western capitalism is being invented”, welcomes Gaël Giraud, chief economist at the French development agency (AFD) in his preface to the book The company so common (Charles-Léopold Mayer editions), co-written by researchers Swann Bommier and Cécile Renouard. A reflection on the post-CSR, which recalls what was expected: “reorganize the activity of companies so that they stop acting and are no longer managed as black boxes (…) but as a community of people working together, and stakeholders interacting , in the service of a socially useful project”.

The health crisis played an important role in this acceleration. Confinement and telecommuting have revealed the strengths and weaknesses of companies. The “battle of meaning”, as Barthélémy Guislain, president of the Mulliez family association, the holding that controls the distribution group, calls it, is at the heart of the companies’ challenges. Employees believe their companies are meeting the new requirements. According to the Medef 2021 CSR barometer, 89% of them consider them efficient. And when they work for companies with a CSR function (one third of them), it is 92%. Medef maintains that this conversion of companies does not date from the 2018 vote on the Pact law, whose article 169 specifies that a company “is managed in its social interest, taking into account the social and environmental issues of its activity”. . Dominique Carlac’h, co-chair of the employers’ organization’s new corporate responsibilities committee, confirms: “We are convinced that this is one of the conditions for attractiveness, differentiation and competitiveness of companies, constituting a response to society’s expectations”.

Cartography. CSR, according to Medef, is “the way in which the company aligns its strategy, its governance, its reason for being and its processes with the challenges of sustainable development, that is, a development that takes into account three dimensions : economic, social and environmental. Large groups are often pioneers due to their international exposure and are very well equipped, but most companies are only at the beginning of the process. Thibaud Lanxade, director of Luminess (formerly Jouve) and a great connoisseur of the fabric of SMEs and ETIs, however, qualifies this picture: “Many have implemented a whole range of simple and effective measures. They must map them in order to prove the existence and impact of a strategy implemented in practice”. Gradually, sanctions can get worse for those who are slower to carry out their cultural transformation. Access to insurance is already complicated due to tensions in this market. Tomorrow, the question of funding will arise: all the major providers of capital are in a race to green their activities.

Vice President of asset manager Tikehau Capital, Cécile Cabanis is responsible for its CSR strategy. Her conviction is “that companies must be helped to resolve contradictory injunctions, consequences of a system forged decades ago and impossible to change without taking into account temporality. Our role is to align interests, give companies time and measure their sustainable performance.” Benoit Serre, vice president of the National Association of Human Rights Defenders, believes that “constraint serves to stimulate, but nothing solid is built without convincing. Companies today are sure: they are part of the solution. If they do not assume their social and economic role, we will never be able to achieve our goals”. In the book The company so commonCécile Renouard warns: “The challenge is immense and requires ingenuity, imagination, determination and a deep conviction in our individual and collective capacity to invent more just, more equitable and more sustainable ways of life”.

Leave a Comment