An Ifop study for No Com, Tikehau Capital and Essec shows that employees have no opposition in principle to the possibility offered by the Pacte law to companies to define their environmental and social commitments. But they expect consistency between companies’ communication and their actions.

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Slowly but surely, the “raison d’être” is gaining ground in companies. Last year, two CAC 40 groups, Carrefour and TechnipFMC, presented their “raison d’être” at a general meeting. This year, eleven companies broached the subject, including Atos – which adopted it in AG -, Orange, Veolia, Maif, Crédit Agricole and Air Liquide.

It is the Pacte law of May 2019 which allows companies to take social and environmental issues into account in their articles of association by defining their own “raison d’être”. A way of redefining the place of the company within society, without confining it to the search for simple financial profit.

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Employees see a good eye that their company has a “raison d’être”. This is shown by an in-depth study by Ifop carried out for the firm No Com, the investment fund Tikehau Capital and Essec presented this Tuesday in partnership with “Les Echos” and Radio Classique. In total, 75% of the 1,500 employees surveyed consider that presenting the “raison d’être” of the company in which they work is important. And 77% believe that, “Beyond their economic activity, their company plays a role within society”. They are even 59% to be ready to contribute to the reflection if their company were to embark on a process of defining a “raison d’être”. High ratios which show the new weight taken by this problem.

A communication campaign for 69% of employees

But first and foremost, employees expect the company to provide them with job security and good remuneration. The criterion of social utility appears far behind salary and working conditions when it comes to choosing the company in which they want to work, according to the study. The employees also look like Saint Thomas. After the corporate citizen of the 1990s and the corporate social responsibility of the 2000s, they are scalded and want proof.

Thus, 69% of employees consider that the raison d’être is first and foremost “A communication operation”. Only 31% see it “Above all the reflection of sincere convictions”. Clearly, they are not ready to believe everything the leaders tell them, in a reflex of questioning “official” communication.

No opposition in principle but …

“Employees have no opposition in principle to the raison d’être, but they are vigilant”, analysis Pierre Giacometti, president and co-founder of the firm No Com. “They are not fooled and this mistrust shows that the raison d’être cannot be a simple speech. “ Companies must be consistent between their declarations and their actions because the sincerity of the approach will be scrutinized by the employees.

Besides, “For a business, driving the raison d’être process without getting on board from the inside cannot work. Employees are the essential link, believes Pierre Giacometti. They are even the ones who must determine the raison d’être of the company in which they work. It’s not for an advertising agency or whatever to do that. “

The raison d’être, first of all a subject for customers

The company might even have to gain from its customers. In any case, this is what the employees think. More than three-quarters of them believe that defining a “purpose” for their employer is an important topic for clients. The notions of utility and meaning of the profession, of environmental protection for transparency and ethics come after. And employees believe that the raison d’être will first increase consumer loyalty, then attract new talent and finally improve results.

In short, the leaders would therefore have every interest in it. But one thing is certain, for Pierre Giacometti, “The leaders must be lucid and not believe that defining a reason for being will allow to solve all the problems of the company”. It is neither a quick fix, nor a magic wand. The company which has a “raison d’être” will have to convince. And for that, consistency is better than communication.

To note

In partnership with Tikehau Capital and ESSEC, No Com, which specializes in advising companies in particular for their raison d’être, launches with Les Echos the barometer of the raison d’être. This first wave was carried out by the FIFG with a representative sample of employees of companies with more than 500 employees from October 2 to 8. 3 key aspects of the employee’s relationship with their company are explored: employee commitment and professional motivations, judgment on their company’s communication and their vision of the raison d’être. Detailed results on www. nocom.com