When CSR disrupts business models

Regardless of whether CSR demands come from the legislature or from stakeholders, above all, they have been greatly amplified 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 question of sustainability. The real question leaders need to ask themselves is: In the low-carbon world of the future, will my business still be successful and my business model profitable and relevant? “.

If companies seem to be well aware of the need to integrate CSR right now at the root of their strategy and their vision, the problem lies elsewhere. ” The real difficulty is moving from observation and good intentions to implementing change, that is, its operational translation into 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 of the quality of life at work, finally the societal contribution expected of the company. Naturally, the importance of these axes differs depending on the organization in question. “. There is therefore 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. First of all, we must agree on the meaning of success and set progressive goals that are not just ambitions over a very long time horizon. This helps set the pace for change. Success can, for example, be to have launched a production line that consumes less energy within two years and simultaneously achieve an overall goal of reducing its CO2 emissions within 10 years. Without realistic goals, it is very difficult to create buy-ininsists Valérie Bazin. On the other hand, to rally the company around the transformation project, everyone must find meaning in the change, starting with their personal future. It is essential to support the teams so that everyone finds their future place.”

Include all business functions

To anchor the project in the company culture, Valérie Bazin recommends identifying change agents. “It is important to be able to trust 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 make such a change, their diverse answers complement each other. ” The transformation must above all be carried out intelligently, by carrying out the most transversal reflection possible, therefore by involving all the company’s functions. », explains Souad El Ouazzani, while Valérie Bazin emphasizes the benefits of what she calls organizational duality. “this ability to continue to develop one’s effectiveness on a daily basis while exploring entirely new areas”.

Finally, good news with the emergence of certain technologies and the overall acceleration of digital transformation “Companies are surrounded by a combination of factors that are favorable to the transition of their business models, such as, for example, the development of regulations and consumer practices that create new markets. The technological development and digitalization also open opportunities for companies”, assures Souad El Ouazzani. So all that’s left is to get started.

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