More and more companies are seeking to strengthen their CSR strategies and are aware that the commitments they make must be backed up by an authentic approach. There are several ways to achieve this, including incorporating its vocation as a mission-oriented company into the company’s own articles of association.
The term ‘mission-oriented company’ was first used in France by a researcher in 2015 and refers to defining the company’s ‘mission’, introducing a commitment mechanism and a regular and independent control mechanism.
The concept is gaining ground in the United States thanks to the growth in ‘Benefit Corporations’ or B Corps – mission-oriented companies that are still relatively unknown in France.
Yves Rocher: a mission-oriented company
As has been proven by current events, the phenomenon is also now emerging in France. Bris Rocher, grandson of the founder of the Yves Rocher brand, for example, announced last December that the legal status of the family business was changing to make it a ‘mission-oriented company’. The company now has the following five missions enshrined in its articles of association:
- to promote the link between its communities and nature;
- to promote biodiversity in the regions in which it operates;
- to develop frugal innovation and responsible consumption behaviours;
- to make the head office an example of a virtuous ecosystem;
- to offer wellness experiences based on the benefits of nature.
The mission-oriented company in the retail sector
The initiatives launched by retailers are of course encouraging, but as long as the retailers implementing these sorts of measures remain both judge and jury, it will be impossible to distinguish between companies that are genuinely committed and those that merely pretend to be. When it comes to monitoring the commitments made, it is important to determine a set of common standards to be applied by an independent body. Such an approach would need to be structured and the company’s articles of association strengthened in order to gain the support of customers, who are still all too wary when it comes to the sincerity of this type of approach. According to a BVA study on behalf of Salesforce published in June 2019, nearly ¾ of employees believe that the societal, environmental and educational commitments made by companies are, generally speaking, opportunistic (72%).
Reconciling capitalism with the general interest
The development of mission-oriented company status is a symptom of the growing sensitivity to the general interest, using companies as a catalyst for social transformations and as tools for bringing capitalism up to date, incorporating the notions of preserving non-renewable resources, equity, reducing inequalities, etc. into the creation of economic value.