Point of view

For an ecological and social company

April 22, 2024

For an ecological and social company

Returning from a trip to Chili, several decades after my first experience there in the micro-credit sector, my conviction in the ecological and social role of business has been strengthened. 30 years ago, I received from Chili the conviction that our beliefs gain in credibility when they are extended by concrete commitments in the economic and political spheres. And even today, in my work as a manager, I am still marked by the desire to reconcile the company's activity with the challenges of society: how does our activity serve the good of people and the Earth?

Despite the political evolution of Chili, governed by the left-wing President Gabriel Boric, I was able to observe during my stay that a liberal economic vision is still very much present. Many Chilean entrepreneurs are keen to engage in social or ecological action, but this is most often imagined as charity work, "on the side" of the company's activity. What attracted the Chilean management to Armor Group, the company I manage, was our desire as a team to lead a corporate project that places "ecological and social" at the heart of its strategy.

Profit-sharing schemes did not exist in Chili. It made me realize that France, since the time of General de Gaulle's government, has been a pioneer in the fair distribution of company profits. The same applies to training: at Armor Group, for example, we have set up a University in the factory which trains production operators to become robotized machine pilots. Welcoming 6% of people with disabilities, deaf and dumb, for example, is also one of our objectives. By way of comparison, Chilean law sets a legal target of 1% for the number of disabled people in companies. Here too, France is showing the way towards humanizing business.

The integration of economic, ecological and social issues calls into question the role of the leader. Should he simply position himself as a competent manager? Or is he or she more likely to become a coach of internal talent, enabling employees to realize their full potential? This presupposes that the leader appropriates a path of humanization and personal transformation to broaden the vision of his role and embody it in the unity of his whole person. His mission is also to become an innovative visionary, capable of questioning the company's historical activity: it's not just a question of supporting the "how", but also of redefining the "what" and the "why" of the company's activity.

My conviction: the company cannot be considered as an island separated from the world around it. The company's stakeholders (employees, of course, but also shareholders, suppliers, customers, trade unions, the political and social environment, etc.) must be taken into account in the way the company's strategy is implemented. Capitalism must become more human. Otherwise, it will turn against itself. The social crisis in Chile in 2023, terrible in its harshness, should serve as a reminder that if people no longer subscribe to a logic of growth from which they do not benefit, they will revolt against capitalism to the point of provoking its implosion. Of course, taking care of ecological and social issues requires resources that may penalize investors' short-term profitability. But the profitability demands of companies deserve to incorporate a concern for the long term. Investing for the future is the sign of a fair relationship between time and money for the good of the company.

History shows that successful investments are those rooted in a harmonious balance between concern for economic, ecological and social issues. Working towards the emergence of unified leaders who integrate these multiple issues is a necessary condition for the emergence of a fairer, more humane economy!

Hubert de Boisredon, Chairman and CEO of ARMOR GROUP.

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