When CSR disrupts business models

Whether CSR claims come from the legislature or from stakeholders, they have, above all, been greatly reinforced over the years until they reached a climax with the Covid-19 crisis. “It would be wrong and even risky to think that a simple change in posture and communication is enough to meet these basic expectations.warns Souad El Ouazzani, CSR Associate at Mazars. Behind the integration of CSR lies above all a sustainability issue. The real question managers need to ask themselves is: Will my business in the low-carbon world of the future still be successful and my business model profitable and relevant? “.

If companies have apparently become well aware of the need to integrate CSR now at the root of their strategy and their vision, the problem lies elsewhere. ” The real difficulty is going from observation and good intentions to implementing change, that is, its operational translation to the business model. Sustainable transformation is inherently complex because it often brings conflicting interests into play with short- and medium- / long-term profitability. It requires a sincere management commitment over time. », analysis Valérie Bazin, consulting partner at Mazars.

No miracle recipe, but important success factors

To make this sustainable transformation concrete, Souad El Ouazzani identifies several lines of work: ” the decarbonisation of the value chain, the circular economy, the necessary consideration for the quality of life in the workplace, and finally the societal contribution that the company is expected to make. Of course, the significance of these axes differs depending on the organization in question. Therefore, there is no miracle recipe, no single model that can be transferred from one company to another. On the other hand, certain factors are the key to success, as in any complex transformation. We must first agree on the importance of success and set progressive goals, which are not just ambitions over a very long time horizon. This helps to set the pace for change. Success can, for example, be to have launched a production line that consumes less energy within two years and at the same time achieve an overall goal of reducing its CO2 emissions within 10 years. Without realistic goals, creating a buy-in is very difficultinsists Valérie Bazin. On the other hand, in order to unite the company around the transformation project, everyone must find meaning in the change, beginning with their personal future. It is essential to support the teams so that everyone finds their future place. ”

Involve all business functions

To anchor the project in the corporate culture, Valérie Bazin recommends identifying change agents. “It is important to be able to rely on relays in the company, ambassadors and operational agents for the implementation of the strategy, regardless of their hierarchical levels in the organization”. And when we ask the experts for their ultimate advice on how to implement such a change, their different answers complement each other. ” Above all, the transformation must be performed intelligently, by performing the most transverse reflection possible, therefore by involving all the functions of the company. », Explains Souad El Ouazzani, while Valérie Bazin emphasizes the benefits of what she calls organizational duality. “this ability to continue to develop its effectiveness on a daily basis while exploring entirely new areas”.

Finally, good news with the advent of certain technologies and the overall acceleration of digital transformation “Companies are surrounded by a combination of factors that are conducive to the transition of their business models, such as changes in regulations and consumer practices that create new markets. Technological development and digitalisation also open up opportunities for companies ”, assures Souad El Ouazzani. So there is only left to get started.

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