Promulgated in 2019, the law on the Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation (PACTE) proposes to "redefine the raison d'être of businesses" in three stages.
These three stages represent a progressive commitment on the part of companies: from consideration of social and environmental issues, to a commitment potentially enshrined in the articles of association (the raison d'être), and then to a status as a company with a mission, which implies the establishment of a monitoring body.
These measures are not only beneficial to society and the environment, but also to the companies that choose to implement them. Indeed, they represent a strong guarantee of transparency and stability, which will certainly resonate positively with the markets and investors. And while the positive impact on the company's image, whether with future candidates or clients, is obvious... it also raises mistrust.
A lot has been written about the PACT. In short, and while these measures are only in their early stages, the State is already being criticized for not having sufficiently drawn the stick with which those who abuse it will be beaten. The term " purpose washing appears: how to prevent companies from using this ultimately unattractive raison d'être only as a fine communication campaign? What is the point of giving the intermediate option of the raison d'être, before the status of a company with a mission, which finally makes it possible to monitor the commitments made? And beyond monitoring these commitments, how can we sanction companies that do not respect them? What means of pressure, of sanction, of punishment will be put in place, what jurisprudence?...
The PACTE law represents a decisive step in the way we see the economy in France (Great Britain with profit-with-purpose business, the United States with B-Corp or Italy having already beat us to it). It is now enshrined in law that the raison d'être of companies no longer encompasses only the notion of profit, but also respect for social and environmental issues. On the official website of the PACTE law we can read
Businesses are not just about making a profit. The company must be the place where its value is created and shared. The PACT redefines the raison d'être of companies and reinforces the consideration of social and environmental issues related to their activity.
The government has chosen to take a position here, and is urging every company to do the same. It is true that, for the time being, the PACT law leaves grey areas and a lot of room for businesses. The words "take into consideration", for example, imply an obligation of means, not of results. And it is true that an unscrupulous board of directors could quite easily turn it into a marketing stunt.
But criticism has been a little harsh, and a little quick, against these new measures. The ultimate issue is indeed the move to action (at Fifty, we would never say otherwise). And the law, as it stands today, is ideally formulated: it represents an ideal first step in a context where many companies have a considerable way to go.
The starter step principle, which Léonie Messmer talks about very effectively in this articleis to put your foot in the stirrup, starting with an easier action, in order to start the dynamics of moving into action. Want to get into the sport? You won't be told to sign up for the Paris Marathon right away, but rather to start by going for a 20-minute run. In the same way, asking companies to make commitments immediately, which are written into their statutes and potentially subject to sanctions, is too high a step to take. Let us not forget that it is not so long ago that we considered that the only purpose of a company was to make a profit?
Asking companies to consider their social and environmental issues first is an indispensable prerequisite, especially for companies for whom these considerations were not on the agenda at all. Going so far as to make them part of their raison d'être places these issues at the heart of their strategic decisions and management - a second key step, since it sends a strong message to employees, investors, customers, future recruits, etc.
As indispensable as a starter step is, the trap is to leave it there, instead of continuing to climb the next steps. In other words, once a commitment is made, the next step is to make it real, by taking concrete and measurable action.
On the one hand, these actions must be defined by the management of the company, at the macro level: here, it is the company as a social entity that acts. Let's take the example of the Yves Rocher group, which has already taken the step of becoming a mission-driven company, with the mission of "Reconnecting its communities to nature". In concrete terms, the management has already committed itself to several actions, such as creating an observatory within the sustainable ecosystem at La Gacilly.
On the other hand, these macro actions must be complemented by micro actions, which can be carried out by each of the employees, in order to make them actors of the raison d'être. In this way, it is the operational activities that concretise the company's raison d'être day after day.
Fifty responds to this challenge : every week, our eDoing solution recommends micro-actions that reflect the raison d'être through the prism of employees' daily life. These micro-actions are personalised, and above all, they are measurable: they represent a concrete and very real guarantee that the company as a whole embodies its raison d'être or mission. For example, a company committed to diversity and inclusion will see its employees carry out micro-actions such as "Make your next presentation accessible to the visually impaired" or "In your next 3 emails, write in an inclusive way".
To learn more about Fifty and our solution, download our white paper : "Our Business: Taking Action". !