CSR is becoming an essential dimension of the strategy

By on 5 June 2018

No. Social and business are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, social business is on the rise and this is quite legitimate.

After years of “social washing” during which many companies wore a CSR varnish, many managers finally perceive the essential role played by the social dimension of their activity. This is true everywhere, in all structures, in all sectors, in all professions. Taking care of the others, of your ecosystem and of your stakeholders is taking care of yourself, and therefore sustaining your growth. It is not a question of transforming all companies into NGOs. Nor is it a question of carrying out here and there a few ad hoc operations that would be meaningless. In terms of social responsibility, as in many other areas of the company’s development, everything is a matter of conviction, strategic orientation but also sincerity.

Since its creation, the APRIL group has had a strong CSR dimension closely associated with the business activities of the group’s companies, and associated with a Foundation that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Determined to make insurance more accessible to as many people as possible, we have chosen to focus our action on access to employment and social inclusion. We began by applying our values and our lines of responsible commitment to ourselves, through initiatives that make it possible to employ people with disabilities, the recruitment of young people who are far from the world of employment through the “First March for Employment” program and the possibility for our employees to free up time for solidarity missions, for example. Gradually, building on our internal successes, we began to include our ecosystem in our positive dynamic, by co-implementing solidarity missions with our partners in particular.

We are now in a position to turn it into a business lever. We offer some of our CSR programs as offers to our key account customers -such as our “APRIL For Me” solution, which brings together employee support services in the event of a life accident. A solution that we took the care to test with all our employees for two years before deciding to use it with external organizations and companies. In an insurance market that is tending to standardize, because it is becoming increasingly competitive and more and more regulated, this type of approach is not only a commercial asset, but also a lever for attracting and retaining candidates and employees.

Does this mean that we must completely transform our models, our offers and our way of working? I don’t personally think so. I am convinced that the responsible dimension must bring real added value and be in line with our realities. When we are interested, in the most constrained audiences to provide facilities and simplicity for example, we often realize that we serve the greatest number of people in the end.

The systematic approach could make it counterproductive. For example, we know that including a responsible component at any price can make a product too complex or too expensive to market… and ultimately inaccessible for the end customer.

To find the right balance, the right positioning, the “neither too much nor too little”, it seems to me that we must include the responsible dimension at all levels of the company. We must particularly include it in the management committees, which have the power to decide how much space to devote to these subjects. It also seems to me, and perhaps above all, that we must give room to the initiatives of employees who bring the social dimension of their company to life and allow themselves the opportunity to try, and therefore to fail. We then have nothing to lose, and – all – have everything to gain.

 

Fabienne Ernoult