Entrepreneur CSR, a strategic pillar for family businesses

CSR, a strategic pillar for family businesses

The notion of ecological planning was invited in the presidential election. In practice, family businesses are the most advanced on these subjects: through their DNA, family businesses have always built a sustainable model thanks to their positive impact on local economic development, employment and the environment.

In France, as in the European Union, CSR is defined as “the voluntary integration by companies of social and environmental concerns into their commercial activities and their relations with stakeholders”. This integration is based on a set of themes to be implemented in companies, thus impacting the overall performance of companies.

A performance factor

In the midst of a global pandemic, 81% of family business leaders believe they have been more efficient in their CSR policy in 2021 compared to 63% in 2019 according to the 2021 report of the National Observatory of Family Entrepreneurship of Audencia in partnership with the Family Business Network France and implemented by Opinion Way.

The performance sought in awareness of its impact with all or part of the company’s ecosystem (consumers, employees, suppliers, financial partners, public authorities, etc.) is fundamentally global and transversal to all functions: HR, R&D, purchasing, production, logistics, legal, finance, IT and general management.

A trend reinforced by the crisis. Thus, business leaders, family or not, consider that they have performed better thanks to their CSR policy to get through the pandemic because all employees have been impacted and mobilized to continue the collective effort required by this unprecedented situation.

Key performance indicators are inherently multiple… and sometimes difficult to combine with each other. The ISO 26000 standard* involves seven “central questions” for all those who are aware that socially responsible and environmentally friendly behavior is a key factor for success.

These main principles of vision encompass corporate governance in terms of human rights, working relationships and conditions, environmental impact, fair practices, consumer-centric issues, not to mention the links with communities and local development.

This standard acts automatically on the overall performance of the company in the creation of wealth and income, the sustainable use of resources, the quality of after-sales service in the resolution of disputes with consumers, the fight against corruption, the protection of private consumer data, education, access to essential services, etc.

Disparate and sometimes antagonistic expectations

The Observatory shows that 73% of family businesses prioritize the well-being of their employees at work, compared to 52% for non-family businesses.

The turnover of staff in a company, from managing recruitment to signing contracts and sourcing candidates, obviously remains a cost driver. A company which, thanks to its CSR policy, knows how to attract and retain strategic talent for its activity will inevitably benefit from a return on its investment to improve its attractiveness and the Quality of Life at Work of its recruits.

But this exercise of factual definition of global performance as an accumulation of specific performances also highlights the difficulty of satisfying the disparate and sometimes antagonistic expectations of stakeholders.

In fact, how to satisfy demanding and impatient consumers who want competitive products delivered quickly while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of carriers? How to ensure the sustainability of one’s business by increasing its sales without resorting to planned obsolescence which guarantees the renewal of consumer purchases but generates an increasingly unacceptable quantity of waste?

Efforts to reflect on thecomplete analysis of the life cycle of a product must be carried out during the R&D phase so that this does not condition the security of supplies of raw materials and the impact of the volatility of their world prices on the industrial cost price. Nevertheless, if the product is eco-designed with recycled and local materials rather than new and distant, not only are purchases more efficient in terms of the reliability of supplies but also in terms of reducing environmental externalities.

In summary, to best address these concerns, the analysis must include all components of the overall cost taking into account the valuation of the environmental and social nuisances of a traditional production and logistics plan.

The authors: Miruna Radu-Lefebvre holds the “Family entrepreneurship and society” chair at Audencia. Samuel Réthoré is a Purchasing & CSR expert within the chair.
– Photo Frédéric Sénard / Audencia Group

* ISO 26000: Guidelines for social responsibility

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