Expectations for ever greater impact
More than ever, the business leader who has to finance himself is under pressure from investors, markets and banks who are increasingly scrutinizing what he does in terms of CSR. To demonstrate that its intentions are laudable and to meet expectations of transparency, it urges its teams to set up extra-financial reporting.
With the corollary of the need to produce and process more and more so-called ESG (environment, social and governance) indicators. Not without sometimes a dose of confusion linked to the multiplicity of indicators and the risk of not always being able to compare them. The mission recently entrusted to Efrag by the European Commission should make it possible to benefit from a shared repository for extra-financial information, an important issue for clarification.
But the challenge is not simply financial and goes beyond the subjects of financing and good governance. It is obviously commercial and social. 60% of consumers prefer to buy from brands with which they have a “common purpose”, which reflect their personal values. 60% of consumers still make decisions based on a company’s ethical values and authenticity. They are probably the same. 52% of French consumers who associate good social responsibility with a brand say they are more inclined to become a customer.
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Pressure also comes from employees. According to a recent study, for 76% of young people, one of the most important criteria for their future employment is that it is in line with their values. The “customer citizen” and the “collaborator citizen” are in search of societal meaning. And they both watch what’s done for each other. Thus 77% of consumers believe that the Quality of Life at Work impacts the quality of service.
It is therefore becoming essential, beyond traditional extra-financial indicators and the measurement of the impact of their actions, that business leaders be able to assess the perception of employees and customers.
Without a positive perception, there is no salvation
As such, the 2022 Attention Symmetry Barometer that we are publishing is instructive. He gives us three useful lessons for business leaders.
First lesson: the environmental commitment of companies is still struggling to create consensus among customers and employees. Very clearly, customers and employees believe that companies are not doing enough in terms of the environment. Only 32% of customers consider that the company offers them products or services that respect the environment and just 46% of employees indicate that their company offers products or services developed taking into account the protection of the environment and of biodiversity.
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Second lesson: in the era of mission-driven companies, customers do not perceive the values on which companies base their actions. Admittedly, the values claimed by companies arouse support, but support from their employees alone and little felt by their customers. As a general rule, only 35% of customers consider that the company relies on strong values to act, compared to 54% of employees of these same companies. This question is key if 60% of consumers prefer brands that reflect their personal values…
Third lesson: the commitment of companies to the social pillar of CSR is scrutinized by customers and impacts the cross-view that customers and employees may have of the company. The customer will, for example, be sensitive to the way employees are treated, all the more so as they sense that better management leads to better customer service. As such, the customer’s perception of the employee’s autonomy, perhaps for him reveals the company’s ability to value and empower its human resources.
To the question “the people in contact with the customer have the necessary autonomy to provide the best service”: only 41% of customers answer yes. In this area, and almost unsurprisingly, two economic sectors are the worst performers: telephony and passenger transport at 35%. While catering is at the top of the list, at 50%.
At the crossroads of commitments
CSR allows the company to better engage in taking into account the real impact of its activity on economic, social and environmental development.
More than ever, business leaders, under pressure from investors, markets, banks, customers and employees, need stabilized and indisputable measuring instruments enabling them to better manage their CSR and the effectiveness of his actions.
ESG indicators provide him with a very often real measure of the impact of the company’s activity. But it cannot do without evaluating the cross-perception of customers and employees on its impact. Or do without evaluating its ability to engage its employees and contribute to their development.
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“We’re the first generation of leaders who can’t say we didn’t know – we’re also the last generation capable of effecting change.”
The statement by Douglas Lamont, CEO of Innocent Drinks undoubtedly underlines in the first place the need for commitment from the business world in the service of environmental issues. Customers and employees remind us that expectations are of course on all societal, economic and ethical issues.
The author: Stanislas Advisor, Associate Director of the Service Academy