#13 - URGENCy & REsiliENCE - Generali Investments
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01 EDITORIAL | P.3 sHaPing a NEw wORld Christine KOLB | Founding Partner 02 OPINION | P.4 our actions will sHaPe thE fUtURE Jean-Guillaume PéLADAN | Head of Environmental Strategy 03 DISCOVERING SRI | P.7 hUmaN Capital, central for future resilience Sabrina RITOSSA FERNANDEZ | Analyst, ESG specialist | P.7 EVOlUtiON of worKing metHods and emPloYer Brands Interview with Jérémy CLéDAT | Co-founder of Welcome to the Jungle | P.17 ENViRONmENtal tRaNsitiON: is tHe HealtH crisis a game cHanger? Anne-Claire ABADIE | Portfolio Manager, environmental specialist | P.22 04 ANALYSIS | P.30 How is thE lUxURy iNdUstRy addressing tomorrow’s cHallenges? Interview with Frédéric PONCHON | Partner & Portfolio Manager 05 THE SRI TWEETS | P.38 06 THE FREEDOM TO ENGAGE | P.40 sRi By syCOmORE 07 SYCOMORE ASSET MANAGEMENT | P.43 aN ENGaGEd assEt maNaGER 08 OUR EDGE | P.46
01 EDITORIAL shapiNG a NEw wORld Christine KOLB | Founding Partner “ We are in the midst of a health crisis that is causing huge disruption within our society: it is weakening companies, upsetting our daily lives, af- fecting the poorest, deepening inequalities and jeopardising the future of many young people. Today, it is not simply urgent to support the economic recovery, it has also become imperative to speed up the environmental and inclusive transition. We are already witnessing a behavioural shift in fa- vour of a more responsible, sober, less frenzied way to create sustainable growth. Companies now have to learn to navigate between “sustainability” – main- taining jobs, preserving biodiversity, reducing trans- port, and “innovation” – unprecedented strategic partnerships, responsible technology, differentiated products and services to address emerging needs, and an improved relationship with work – in a spirit of resilience. The health crisis and its consequences are just one further example of the environmental, social and so- of life. Left with little choice, companies will have to cietal battles that we still have to lead. It has confir- adapt, be nimble and in some cases rethink their med the key role that companies are playing in these business models to guarantee their sustainability: transformations: each must assimilate the new rules reviewing their organisational structure, considering of the game, come up with new ideas, drive change the impact of their business on the environment, and offer a new vision. To quote Winston Churchill the societal contribution of their goods and services, “we must take change by the hand or rest assured, relocating to offer more proximity and responsi- change will take us by the throat”. This is also our veness, simplifying their supply chains… Today, conviction. entire industries are suffering from the economic fallout – the tourism industry is a perfect example. More than ever today, as engaged investors, we are Some will need to undergo deep transformations providing hands-on support to companies that have or will simply disappear, in a process that could be understood that to succeed and survive in tomorrow’s painful. world, they will have to act responsibly. ” But there is always a silver lining: companies have Happy reading! been made to question their resilience, their ability to face up to a trauma and to adopt best practices to support continual improvement. The spotlight is being put on those that had already made transfor- mations to their organisation, had committed to more responsible and social approaches, and that had given themselves the means and the resources Christine KOLB The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 3
02 OPINION OUR aCtiONs will shapE thE fUtURE Jean-Guillaume PéLADAN | Head of Environmental Strategy “ lockdown. “What we are going through today is no- thing less than a sociological miracle. Something in- credible is happening. The world is slowing down” wrote philospher Hertmut Rosa1 in the midst of the The tragedy caused by Covid-19 has taught us that the realm of possibilities is much, much wider than we thought. Events that would have seemed unthin- kable just a few months ago have become realities, as the few examples below have shown: • Forced sobriety that led to a dramatic decrease in human-generated pollution, particularly in green- house gas emissions. The Covid-19 pandemiC Could indeed be a game Changer. FirsT, we have been reminded ThaT The ConTrol we exerT over The world is largely illusionary. and seCond, The deep eConomiC Crisis • The determination to save the lives of vulnerable generaTed by The pandemiC has opened people at the expense of the economy; up new, unexplored avenues. • A slowdown in global economic growth reminis- cent of wartimes; While the concept of business as usual must be re- • An unprecedented situation that highlighted thought for many industries, particularly when the cri- inequalities but also gave rise to a wave of soli- sis led to a pure and simple shut down – restaurants, darity; hotels, cultural events, the effectiveness of remote working was proven, and even the toughest sceptics • Global awareness advocating a more responsi- were convinced by its advantages: more flexibility for ble corporate citizenship and rekindling the de- a better balance between private/working life, time bate on a better distribution of wealth; saved on commuting… The ability to work from home is appreciated and sometimes desirable, in • Stock markets dropping faster than in 1929 at many industries. E-commerce boomed. While some the beginning of 2020… followed by a rebound discovered the joys of on-line shopping, others now that was almost as quick; swear by it, and the survival of many companies is 1 In the article: “The miracle and the monster – a sociological perspective on Coronavirus” published on May 10th 2020..
now dependent on this newly indispensable retail First, more pandemics will inevitably occur. We have channel. Finally, shorter supply chains have become created the conditions that will enable viruses to a competitive advantage. emerge more frequently and spread faster3, particu- larly due to the huge livestock biomass – which is now New ways of living took shape, be it temporarily. We 14 times larger than wild mammal biomass and twice experienced novel, less mobile, ways of working and that of humankind4. The recent report published by new ways of spending, that were healthier, simpler, the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity has also more local, possibly echoing the slow food2 pointed out that “science has increasingly highlighted (https://slowfood.com/) or slow life movements. correlations between global environmental change, loss of biodiversity and associated regulation services, and the emergence, or rise, of infectious diseases”. Zoonotic risk can be increased with the erosion of bio- diversity through environmental, epidemiological, adaptive, evolution-driven, and anthropic factors”5. As the loss of biodiversity is the planet’s most severe “overshoot” issue, the role of this aggravating factor seems very far from reverting. Second, a “return to normal” is not desirable for a ma- jority of citizens and company executives throughout the world. The trend comes in various forms, but is particularly prevalent among younger generations looking for new ideals and rejecting the inequalities deepened by the crisis and the absurdities caused by our way of life or by globalisation. A world where very often, those with the most useful jobs are also those that are paid less – such as frontline health workers – as pointed out by anthropologist David Graeber6. Source : Côté Loisirs News (http://coteloisirs-news.com) 16 avril 2020 : article « Slow Food France Throughout the world, people are speaking up and ur- pendant la période de confinement... » rédigé par Corinne Préteur et publié depuis Overblog. ging us not to revert to our old ways7. Cynics would argue that we will soon make up for lost Third, we witnessed the largest ever worldwide ex- time and go back to our old habits. However, we have periment assessing the social worth of different eco- three main reasons to believe that major transforma- nomic activities. In various countries, these activities, tions are already under way and will shape tomorrow’s or businesses, were split into those that could be shut world. down or limited, and those that had to keep running 2 Movement that began in Italy in the 1980s and that has since become widespread, cf. https://www.slowfood.com/fr 3 For a plain-language approach of the issue and in a fun video format, watch Les futures épidémies que nous vivrons - DBY #68 on https://youtu.be/VJNt1AQ8p2A 4 Estimates in carbon atom weights, from The biomass distribution on Earth, 2018, https://www.pnas.org/content/115/25/6506 5 Report from the FRB published on May 15th 2020, https://www.actu-environnement.com/media/pdf/news-35512-covid-19-biodiversite-frb.pdf 6 Bullshit jobs, published by Les Liens qui Libèrent, 2018. 7 For example, Sycomore AM joined the European Alliance for Green Recovery in May 2020. The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 5
at all cost. The outcome of this unprecedented ex- periment will leave its marks and it is already of great use for assessing the societal contribution of the bu- siness models in which we invest. Non-priority indus- In our work as asset managers, the crisis revealed – tries – air travel, tourism, fashion, automobile, many in fast-forward mode – the resilience of authentic forms of leisure and cultural activities – can no lon- SRI strategies and the relevance of the social, so- ger claim to be as useful to society as essential or cietal and environmental themes we advocate. Will vital businesses such as utilities (energy, water, waste, the crisis act as a catalyst and drive purposeful and hygiene), telecoms, food, education or healthcare, responsible investing? and all the subcontracting chains that enable these companies to operate. De facto non-priority busi- nesses will be affected by future states of emergency – whether these are caused by public health, environ- mental or political crises. The lockdown will have To sum up, we firmly believe that this crisis has ope- long-term implications and as investors, we have ned up a historic opportunity to create a new world much to learn from this global utility stress-test. that is more agile, more responsible, less frantic and where human and natural capital considerations are central to arbitrage decisions. We urgently need to pursue new directions, away from the defunct “busi- ness as usual” model and towards more environmen- tally-friendly and inclusive societies. Contributing to this shift lies at the heart of our corporate mission, ConTribuTing To This shiFT lies aT The hearT oF our CorporaTe mission, whiCh is To develop a more susTainable and inClusive eConomy and generaTe posiTive impaCTs For all oF “ which is to develop a more sustainable and inclusive economy and generate positive impacts for all of our stakeholders. As such, the Covid monster could open up historic opportunities and pave the way for more solidarity, less frenzy, more serenity, less disruption to the environment – in one word, more resilience for all of us. Mirage, wishful thinking or miracle? Either way, our sTakeholders. our actions will shape the future. Source: Wallpapers Home
03 DISCOVERING SRI The unprecedented crisis we are currently experien- cing has shown that societal, social, economic and environmental issues are deeply interconnected. Questions have been raised on companies’ ability to navigate a crisis on such a scale, on their purpose, their ‘raison d’être’ and the levers they can deploy to address the challenges we face as a society. The crisis has also highlighted the urgency for governments, investors and consumers alike to favour businesses with high positive social and /or environmental impacts. Sabrina RITOSSA FERNANDEZ Analyst, ESG specialist Entretien avec Jérémy CLéDAT Co-foundeur of Welcome to the Jungle Anne-Claire ABADIE Portfolio Manager, environmental specialist The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 7
ThE CRISIS haS MIRROREd ShORTCOMIngS hUmaN and STREngThS In this period of universal self-questioning and Capital, with governments having to take measures on an unprecedented scale, companies have more than ever been made to take on social and societal res- CENtRal fOR ponsibilities with respect to their stakeholders. fUtURE Those whose organisational structure did not offer the flexibility required to implement extraor- dinary measures were under genuine threat, while REsiliENCE the more agile companies that are able to adapt efficiently had opportunities to seize. Faced with the reality of the situation, nimble businesses res- ponded well: changing working conditions and reassessing targets that had become obsolete, at Sycomore aM, our long-standing conviction is while relying on the engagement of each and every that human capital is a powerful lever in enabling a employee. company to create value. Employee satisfaction and loyalty have an influence on a company’s producti- These short-term decisions that affect human ca- vity, yield and long-term stock market performance1. pital can offer long-term competitive advantages This phenomenon spreads beyond the corporate and have durable implications, both positive and sphere. Every year, the Davos economic forum pu- negative, for a company’s health. blishes a report with RH Mercer consultancy firm identifying the “countries best placed to contribute They also raise many questions. What will these to employee fulfilment and drive growth potential companies leverage on in the future? What has the and economic success”, based on 4 pillars: educa- crisis revealed about their business and organisa- tion, health and well-being, employment and work, tional models, their working habits, their values? including factors that can enable these assets to Periods of major disruption very often drive genuine translate into financial performances. change. as responsible invesTors, we are sTeering Clear oF over-idealisTiC sTaTemenTs on The posT-Crisis world and are keeping a Close waTCh on Changing praCTiCes wiThin Companies. more Than ever over These pasT Few weeks, we have remained Close To Company exeCuTives, To assess The impaCT oF The Crisis on Their business and Their abiliTy To supporT Their sTakeholders, parTiCularly Their sTaFF, during The Crisis and The reCovery period ThaT will Follow. 1 Source: study led by Professor Alex Edmans (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=985735), drawing on analysis conducted by Sycomore AM.
offering prospeCTs and a sense oF purpose Although we lack hindsight, we are convinced that consistent with the company’s actual situation? Pro- the way in which companies have treated their em- mises made by management teams had to materia- ployees in this period of crisis will have – and has al- lise into action to affirm or reaffirm the company’s ready – a direct impact on staff satisfaction, loyalty determination to put its employees first. and engagement. Earlier crises have already shown that the companies best able to maintain or rekindle In this respect, a commitment to maintain jobs and their growth are often those that successfully foste- wages could be viewed as a strategic factor: it re- red a strong corporate culture and use it as an in- minds all staff that the company is counting on them house motivation tool. to navigate this difficult period; it revives a sense of belonging, confirms individual missions and These periods generate instability and anxiety; they upholds performance requirements. can lead to cost cutting and/or lay-offs - measures that threaten employee’s living standards, and can Danone is one of several other companies that made be catalysts for staff disengagement. Is the manage- job preservation a priority. The group announced as ment’s narrative aligned with the group’s values? Will early as end of March that the employment contracts the commitments made to preserve human capital of its 100,000 staff would be secured until June 30th, be honoured? Were applications for government aid with guaranteed wages worldwide. Groups such as Iliad, Chanel and Orange confirmed they would not put their employees on furlough in March and April. L’Oréal also maintained 100% of the jobs and wages of 13,400 employees, of which over 3,000 were not in a position to work. earlier Crises have already shown ThaT The Companies besT able To mainTain In the United States, Best Buy allowed employees or rekindle Their growTh are oFTen Those that were reticent to go to work – due to fear of the ThaT suCCessFully FosTered a sTrong virus or actual illness – to stay home and still receive CorporaTe CulTure and use iT as their full wages. Workers on the shop floor that had an in-house moTivaTion Tool. to stay home due to the closure of their stores, recei- ved wages based on the average number of hours worked in the 10 weeks prior to lockdown. Some large US retail groups gave two weeks paid sick The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 9
leave to their employees as most had no health in- Not only do such commitments strengthen brand surance, while others continued to pay full wages image, but they also contribute to the sense of pride despite the total closure of their stores. enjoyed by employees who work for the company. Research conducted by Optimy in 2017 suggests that 60% of clients are prepared to pay more for goods produced by companies with strong brand “iT Takes reputations and attractive values, and that 71% of many good deeds Millenials would prefer to work for a company that is deeply engaged with its community. To build a good repuTaTion, If we are to believe that “it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to and only one bad lose it”, these periods of crisis can spell disaster for one To lose iT” a brand. They highlight the importance for all com- panies to build up a strong collective culture around a “raison d’être” that is both precise and readily iden- tified by all – clients and employees. It is then down In many cases, these measures maintained social to the company to ensure it has the means to put connections and fostered a group dynamic that hel- their rhetoric and promises into practice through ped put companies back to work. A study published tangible actions. in 2002 in the Harvard Business Review revealed that after a wave of redundancies, employees that had kept their jobs experienced a 41% drop in professio- nal satisfaction, a 36% drop in organisational engage- ment and a 20% decline in professional performance. The engagement of management teams was also evidenced in their ability to reaffirm the “raison d’être” of their business – a factor that is becoming increasingly vital in fostering employee engagement around the group’s corporate mission. When De- 60% 71% of clients of millenials cathlon said it would transform its diving masks into are prepared would prefer protection masks, all of the group’s stakeholders ral- to pay more for to work lied around the initiative - not merely because the goods produced for a company project is useful in itself, but also because it is ali- by companies that is deeply gned with the brand’s values. The same could be with strong brand engaged with said of SAP, after the company developed tools to reputations and its community assist governments with the preselection and trans- attractive values portation of Covid-19 patients worldwide, to support healthcare professionals and manage the flow of in- formation and resources to their citizens.
develoP staff aCCounTabiliTy and empowermenT The crisis has highlighted the importance of staff It is no surprise that companies that had already set up an empowerment, which is essential for the imple- effective culture of change and smart working practices mentation and efficiency of remote working. nim- turned out to be more resilient. Those that had invested ble organisations, less “presenteeism”, trust: many in sufficient IT capacity, suitable tools and that already re- companies have had to learn to work differently. lied on remote working prior to the crisis fared well. Due to the lockdown, they had to shift the focus on results, review their procedures to ensure staff had These include Orange – one of the first companies to more flexibility and find a modus operandi that sui- have appointed a telework representative, tasked with ted everyone. developing this way of working with 80,000 people. The group has long considered that remote working is not just an HR matter, but that it has an impact on how the work is organised throughout the company. Working as soon as from home has already been in place for several years at The eFFeCTiveness oF remoTe Renault also. This involved rethinking new management methods, setting up new team rituals to set a pace for the working is proven day and make up for the physical absence of its mem- aT various eChelons bers. While remote working exacerbated the difficulties caused by an exclusively verbal form of communication oF The Company, iT Can be and required that more attention be paid to individual a win-win soluTion. expectations, it also encouraged the practice of empathy and active listening. Working from home offers a great deal of advantages, due to social distancing restrictions, many mana- however its daily practice requires adjusted training on gers who had been reticent over working from the organisational structure of the company. With a large home, eventually saw its advantages. Several com- number of employees who had never experienced re- panies – including Heineken, Essity, Legal & General mote working left with no choice but to operate from and SAP told us they now believed in the efficiency home, some companies tended to increase controls and of remote-working and are now more comfortable reporting – which added to existing workload and was with this system going forward. often badly perceived by the people concerned. The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 11
We firmly believe that autonomy, which goes hand reorganise operations, thereby creating an adjusted in hand with working from home and fosters empo- business continuity plan as and when it was needed. werment, is a performance driver, both for the indi- vidual worker and for the company. Autonomy also In this respect, and particularly in the current meets our basic need for recognition, which in itself context, we are seeking out trusting environments feeds self-esteem. Zara France is a good example: and types of organisation that foster subsidiarity. the company, by definition rather unaccustomed to The more brutal the change, the more decisions remote-working, was able to benefit from the cul- have to be taken by those directly concerned – i.e. ture of empowerment and individual initiative that on the frontline. It is therefore necessary to ensure it had been looking to develop for a while. The com- that competent workers feel legitimate and are au- pany was able to rely on its teams, who worked on thorised to make the decisions that are incumbent an accelerated dematerialisation of procedures to upon them. WhaT'S nExT? As working methods continue to change, they will become a differentiating factor for companies and instrumental in attracting and retaining talents and maintaining productivity. Flexibility is the key word in this transformation process. Several points are worth watching though: for some employees, limited social interactions can have negative consequences on their professional fulfillment and therefore weigh on their efficiency. Furthermore, remote wor- king removes space boundaries: private and professional areas are no longer separate when the dining room be- comes an office. For some employees, working from home removed blended their professional and private lives. All the more if the company uses very intrusive productivity control tools to keep a check on its staff – as was the case recently in a number of call centres. Before imagining that remote working becomes the norm, the feedback should be examined: whether the quality of people’s work did or didn’t deteriorate, whether employees are more fulfilled, more motivated and if working from home contributes to their well-being; considering all possible forms of telework in order not to increase ine- qualities, developing new monitoring systems that are not overly invasive… Furthermore, some companies may be tempted to go along with ‘social dumping’ ideas if remote working becomes a mainstream practice. In our analysis of human capital management, we shall therefore be particularly attentive to the conditions in which remote working is implemented and to the use of best practices: the payment of a telework bonus to make up for the increase in personal expenditure caused by working from home – this is already the case at Workday, for example, a company specialised in Cloud applications – or the possibility of working from other remote loca- tions when people feel they are not able to work from home in comfortable conditions. Renault, for instance, has allowed its employees to work from various locations since 2019: home, a nearby office or a coworking space.
uPgrading skills to imProve employabiliTy Human capital serves to highlight the key role of in- local players. This was the case with the retirement dividual knowledge and skills in a company’s perfor- home industry: Orpéa, Europe’s leading player in mance. In some cases, the complexity of the current dependency care, very promptly grasped the extent situation has put the spotlight on individuals’ diffe- of the crisis. Its nursing homes were relatively unsca- rent skillsets and on their ability to adapt. thed by the epidemic as the company showed great agility in setting up measures to limit risks to the mi- In order to avoid furlough, some companies had to nimum, and fared better than some of its competi- break away from their existing hierarchical flow- tors as a result. charts and ask their employees to take on new roles, or to carry out temporary missions that were far re- moved from their initial job, drawing on other skills. For example, Cisco has developed a platform calling for in-house project participation to enable em- WhaT'S nExT? ployees who were unable to work to remain active and acquire new skills, whatever their initial position Training will be a determining factor, in the company. After placing 95% of its staff on fur- both for managers and for employees, lough, Wartner – specialised in premium hotel laun- in meeting customers’ new require- dry services – transformed its activity to take on the ments and adapting to increasingly digital consumer laundry of Paris Hospital health workers. patterns. here, agility – a concept that is often vague – trans- This will provide an opportunity for companies to in- lates into tangible actions. Changes that used to novate and identify new solutions to offer better trai- take months to implement are now being decided ning to teams that are under pressure, to develop upon in just a few days. New habits were adopted in new, nimbler working methods, to encourage ups- a couple of weeks. killing – particularly on cutting-edge technology, to accelerate the digitalisation of the company’s pro- Based on the companies we follow closely, we noted cesses and ensure that digital methods are suitably that those exposed to international markets, particu- put forward. In this respect, many measures within larly if they were present in China, reacted faster than the European recovery involve digital training. The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 13
ensure tHat mulTi-sTakeholder dialogue is given tHe imPortance it deserves Today more than ever, social conditions are a key country as a whole. Conversely, some companies found issue for companies. This period has demonstrated themselves trapped due to tense relations with the trade that a collective spirit, a team able to close ranks when unions, as was the case for Amazon, which disagreed faced with danger or a threat, is an essential feature. with the unions on employee protection measures and Drawing on our research efforts and meetings, we the- ended up having to close six of its French warehouses. refore attempt to assess how trade unions and labour organisations operate. Based on the discussions we have held over the past few weeks with various decision-making bodies, it seems Poste Italiane, the Italian post office, offers an interesting clear that companies that had included employees or example: thanks to positive trade union relations, their reps when drawing up their Business Continuity constructive discussions between different bodies en- Plans, and more recently, lockdown easing frameworks, abled the group to adapt its operations swiftly and gua- were able to negotiate emergency collective agree- rantee that essential services continued to be provided ments in a pragmatic and flexible way, and are now in a to customers, while also offering powerful support for the stronger position to navigate the recovery. WhaT'S nExT? Our attention will focus on how relations between different stakeholders evolve: • The quality of the dialogue and discussions with employee representatives is a major issue when analysis the strengths and weaknesses of a company over the long term. • a company’s responsibility with regards to its suppliers cannot be overlooked. We shall naturally favour companies that made sure they had the means to preserve their supplier relations to avoid jeopardising their business. In any circums- tances, maintaining equitable and non-exploitative relations with suppliers is a major factor in our analysis framework. Unilever offering 500 million euros to support its small producers and suppliers during the crisis is a perfect example of the quality relations that the group has developed and nurtured within its ecosystem over the years. • Finally, we shall put more emphasis on analysing relations between top management and employees, and will be particularly attentive to the creation of shared value and to the fairness of CEO/workers’ pay ratios – these have both been key factors in our voting policy for a long time. One could also mention that pressure on minimum wages has turned pay equity into an economic issue: beware of companies whose business models rely on excessively low labour costs…
Providing genuine answers to tHe manY cHallenges to equiTy witHin a comPanY This time round, the crisis deepened inequalities throughout the world and particularly in developed countries. A recent study conducted by Citi revealed that only 24% of US jobs could be practiced remotely as The Crisis and that the ability to work from home and wage levels were deeply correlated. This reflects a skills- deepened inequaliTies, based technological shift, whereby technological ad- we appreCiaTe These deCisions vances have benefited qualified workers. High-income employees were less affected by the lockdown as they made by senior managemenT were able to continue working, while jobs in services, as They send ouT The message or the tourism and construction industries - hairdres- sers, waiters, factory workers for example, suffered To employees ThaT exeCuTives from large wage losses – and they are already paid less are willing To in the first place. “share in The pain” This period also opened our eyes on a social phe- nomenon that has been around for a while: the fact that remuneration is misaligned with the social or Large retail companies that chose to keep their economic “use” of a job. Some professions – viewed stores open to meet their customers’ essential needs as essential - were either totally unaffected by the said they had to spend hundreds of thousands of lockdown or ensured continued business activity, on euros to ensure the safety of their staff and clients a remote basis: healthcare workers, naturally, but also and support on-line sales. These figures include the bakers, supermarket workers, firemen, butchers, truck payment of exceptional bonuses and wage in- drivers, teachers, cleaners etc. Jobs that turned out creases for front-line workers, in an effort to better to be indispensable, or even vital, and that tend to be align pay and social contribution. Walmart, for associated with low wages… example, spent 900 million dollars in bonuses, sick The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 15
pay increases, health & safety protection, during the top executives in April and May, and paid a 750-euro quarter. Incidentally, retailers are expecting these monthly bonus to the employees who continued to costs to rise during next quarter. work on the production, logistics and installation fa- cilities. Sodexo executives, followed by others, also Many large companies also took strong action – bo- chose to reduce their wages in order to help their nuses, donations or executive pay cuts for example – more vulnerable workers… As the crisis deepened to enable their employees to face the crisis more inequalities, we appreciate these decisions made by serenely. Nexans decided on a 30% wage cut for its senior management as they send out the message to employees that executives are willing to “share in the pain”. In the same spirit, we were particularly selective du- iT now seems Clear To all ring this year’s voting season in supporting or rejec- ThaT wiThouT The engagemenT ting dividend pay-outs. We are convinced that oF Their employees, many Companies immediate shareholder returns should not jeopar- would noT have survived The Crisis. dise a company’s long-term resilience, nor the remu- while in normal CirCumsTanCes, neration of other stakeholders and employees in human CapiTal is perCeived as particular. a CompeTiTive advanTage and a perFormanCe driver For Companies, wiTh The Coronavirus Crisis iT has beCome an indispensable asseT whiCh iT will be essenTial To preserve.
interview EVOlUtiON Of wORKiNG mEthOds aNd EmplOyER BRaNds Jérémy Clédat Co-founder of Welcome to the Jungle Jérémy Clédat is the co-founder of Welcome to the Jungle, a specialist recruitment platform. The company has already conquered the French market, with clients inclu- ding Doctolib, Carrefour, Louis Vuitton, and a further 2,200 companies. It has recently raised 20 million euros through Gaia Capital Partners, its long-standing shareholders (BPI France, XAnge and Jean-Paul Guisset) and co-investors, such as MAIF Avenir, in order to speed up its development in Europe and enter the corporate software market. Jérémy shares his views on how working methods and employer brands are evolving. The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 17
interview WORkING LIFE HAS RECENTLy UNDERGONE HOW DOES THIS AFFECT RECRUITMENT - BOTH MAJOR DISRUPTIONS. AFTER OVER TWO MONTHS FOR THE CANDIDATE AND FOR THE EMPLOyER? OF LOCkDOWN, HOW WOULD yOU ASSESS RE- MOTE WORkING? Mentalities are changing on this issue, as much for job seekers as for recruiters. Most companies, for Before the health crisis and the lockdown restric- instance, were very reluctant on recruiting remotely. tions, companies had little incentive to set up re- Until now, physical interviews were seen as a sacred mote working or to broaden its use. I would even stage in the recruitment process. During the lock- say that 6 months ago, many were still wondering if down, many found themselves having to make re- it was feasible, even desirable, for the smooth run- mote recruitments and even onboard new recruits ning of an organisation. And then over the course of during the shutdown period – a real challenge. just a few days, millions started working from home. This shattered a number of preconceptions, as the So clearly it was possible! And beneficial: most of the process proved it could work – albeit differently, companies we talk with, particularly those with mis- but it worked. givings over remote work, have seen their average team productivity increase by 15 to 20%. This new I have the feeling that following the lockdown ex- awareness is likely to drive an acceleration of the cur- perience, remote working has very quickly become rent post-crisis trend and could convince the most an employee’s right in itself. In the months to reluctant employers. come, companies that do not authorise telework – including flexible conditions for their staff, will be Particularly as working from home comes with a tan- totally out of touch with the job market. I am ac- gible financial argument. More than ever in times of tually convinced that this will greatly hinder their crisis, companies are looking to reduce their costs. ability to attract and retain talents. These “hybrid” ways of working can enable compa- nies to downsize their office space by around 20 to Working from home also offers greater flexibility 30%... They also dramatically reduce home to work with time, meaning the company can be more in- commutes and generate a strong positive impact clusive and able to recruit from backgrounds it did both for the environment – this was obvious during not necessarily have access to before. This is a lockdown, and for employees’ well-being. major issue for parents in particular: studies have shown that many mothers set themselves huge At Welcome to the Jungle, we have believed in the barriers and refrain from applying for specific po- advantages of remote working ever since the com- sitions or in certain industries, as they believe that pany was launched. Even prior to the lockdown, 20% the working hours that are expected of them are of our teams worked 100% from home and lived out- not compatible with their personal lives. Remote side of the Paris area. Our charter also allowed each working widens the scope of possibilities, both for and every one of our employees to be able to spend the candidate and for the employer. 50% of their working hours on a remote basis. For example, digital and Tech talents are often under the spotlight. Today, companies can only “hunt” for these talents in a relatively limited geo-
interview graphical area – Paris, in the case of France, and yet In my view, the phenomenon raises an even deeper there are talents to be found everywhere. If a com- issue: will it be possible one day to lose the correla- pany can recruit with no geographical constraints, tion between the value of the work provided by an it can potentially meet more talents and give them individual and his/her place of work/residence? This a chance. Incidentally, many of the members of our may seem utopic, yet it would help with the develop- Tech team do not live in the Paris area and this has ment of rural areas, the relocation of a number of in- no incidence on their daily activities. I am convin- dustries, the creation of new hubs for highly-skilled ced that this trend will prove highly positive for the jobs. working world. DO yOU BELIEVE THAT REMOTE WORkING WILL DO yOU BELIEVE REMOTE WORk COMES WITH A BECOME THE NORM, GOING FORWARD? WHAT RISk OF SOCIAL DUMPING? MAIN CHALLENGES DOES THIS ENTAIL FOR THE COMPANIES? At Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent speech – an- nouncing that remote working would become the Admittedly, the lockdown restrictions meant that it norm and that wages would ultimately be adjusted was urgent to make arrangements that would have based on employee’s place of residence – suggests that taken months of adjustment in normal circums- a drift towards social dumping could occur in some in- tances. Nevertheless, we have the feeling that buil- dustries. Actually, this would take a very novel form: ding an effective remote team culture, which would when we think of social dumping, we tend to imagine work for all and on a permanent basis, needs to be the process occurring between Europe/the US and Asia considered carefully and gradually. Rushing into and in deeply manufacturing-based industries. Today things is always risky. I am very surprised when I hear this could be much more complex, involving multiple companies announcing that they are already closing sectors and taking place within the same country (from their offices and switching to 100% remote opera- San Francisco to a town in Wyoming for instance, from tions. Such practices require deep and disruptive Paris to Angoulême). It could be very dangerous. changes to the corporate culture. They involve new ways of working, based on unsynchronised commu- nication, where the written word is fundamental, even vital. Neither do I believe that setting up remote work simply in response to employees’ demands can work effectively over time and for the group. A company has to orchestrate a change of culture to ensure it works well with its teams on a remote basis: develo- ping the right tools, ensuring that all managers believe in the project and that this doesn’t create additional managerial problems. With remote working, the issue of trust also takes on a whole new meaning and importance. Managers have to be sure they can trust their employees to work effectively from home. Source: Les Echos The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 19
interview I also think it is essential to remove – as much as teams, is very much related to the level of transparency possible – the factors suggesting that the person and sincerity of their communications. This plays a major who isn’t physically present is somehow missing out role in staff engagement and in their willingness to stay on some of corporate life, that his or her role in the and take part in the recovery. company is less valuable, that his or her career is negatively affected. These cultural aspects should The most unifying employer brands are those whose be approved by all: a process that requires power- employees are well attuned to the message voiced by ful in-house communication on the issue to make it the company both internally and externally. They are very clear that working from home is a standard able to say “yes, this is the company I work for, beyond practice and has been fully approved at all levels of doubt”. an employee must relate to his or her com- the company. pany, and his or her mission within the company. your employees, and your candidates too, are your best For example, at Welcome to the Jungle we have cho- ambassadors. In any case, I believe there is no point in sen to provide an in-house training programme for trying to hide who you really are in corporate commu- team members who are new to remote working or nications, as there is little sense in attracting people wish to switch to 100% remote. It is essential to who do not fit with the company. This would be a create a formal framework for these practices, to en- waste of time and money. According to DARES, 36% able all concerned to weigh the pros and cons, to of French permanent employment contracts are understand the implications and to make necessary ended within the first 12 months – yet the cost of an arrangements. unsuccessful recruitment is estimated to range bet- ween 12 and 18 months of wages. A STRONG CORPORATE CULTURE IS FUNDAMENTAL FOR SETTING UP REMOTE WORkING, BUT PARTICU- LARLy FOR THE COMPANy’S ABILITy TO GENERATE GROWTH. WHAT ARE yOUR VIEWS? WHAT DEFINES A STRONG EMPLOyER BRAND TODAy? Corporate culture tends to come to life through dis- cussions between people or in offices. Today this can no longer be effective! I am convinced that compa- nies now have to manage their corporate culture in written form. Internal communications in its broadest sense plays a central role in reminding staff of the company’s purpose and how individual objectives are aligned with its mission. More than ever in our society, this is about the consistency between a company’s narrative, the approach used to design its products and services and its raison d’être. This crisis period serves as a good example: I find that the ease shown by companies in managing the situation with clients, and the way they reassure and engage their
interview Today, the issue of corporate engagement is omni- The Welcome Kit is a platform for employer brands present and scrupulously examined. a company’s sin- offering a turnkey and customisable career site, on cerity over social, societal or environmental issues which they can highlight their corporate culture, has a huge impact on its ability to attract clients and present working conditions, publish employee in- talents. A company’s positioning on these matters can terviews and articles on the company and upload no longer be invented from scratch. We have already job offers. The tool enables the company to manage seen a number of companies negatively affected by applications efficiently and facilitates interactions their recruiting practices, particularly on the issue of with team members through a structured process. It diversity. The same can be said for industries that are reflects excellence for a company wishing to offer pay little or no attention to environmental considera- the best possible experience for its candidates, as it tions. Even within the Tech industries, the media is- does for its clients. Today, over 3,000 companies use sues that major players experience with regards to Welcome kit to recruit their staff. their ESG commitments already weigh on recruitment and talent retention. I am certain that these compa- We have also developed a media tool specialised nies will find themselves increasingly misaligned with on work-related issues, through which we offer a the expectations of potential candidates. large range of web content and videos on a vast array of issues, including recruitment, occupations and best practices providing food for thought for COULD yOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE CORPORATE candidates and recruiters. SOFTWARE yOU HAVE DEVELOPED TO IMPROVE THE RECRUITMENT EXPERIENCE? During the lockdown, we launched Welcome home – an intranet designed to facilitate the on- Our corporate mission when we created the com- boarding of new recruits and improve team dy- pany in 2015 was to rethink the whole experience – namics within the company. This includes photo from seeking a job and being recruited, to engage- galleries, contacts, detailed profiles to understand ment within the company. At the time, we realised who does what within the company. We believe it that the most upsetting factor in job applications is is essential for companies to offer a well-designed, not receiving an answer. We quickly wanted to deve- user-friendly and corporate culture-driven intra- lop and provide our clients with a collaborative tool net. Intranet can be a powerful tool for sharing in- designed to improve the candidate’s experience at formation and knowledge. 250 companies are each stage of the recruitment process. already using the system. The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 21
ENViRONmENtal however, according to the WhO, the real scourge that exceeds all of these factors is environmental tRaNsitiON: pollution. Now ranked as the first cause of death in the world, the pollution of air, water, soils but also exposure to chemicals, climate change and ultra- is thE hEalth violet radiations caused the deaths of over 12.6 mil- lion people throughout the world in 2018. Air CRisis a GamE pollution alone killed 7 million that same year1… Scientists have also warned that the consequences ChaNGER? of climate change will prove dramatic if nothing is done. Every year, or almost, temperature records are beaten across the world. The United Nations re- ported in January that the past decade was the war- mest on record. Based on the current carbon dioxide emission trajectory, we are heading to- wards a 3 to 5 degrees Celsius rise in temperatures before the century is over which will also involve an Could the Covid-19 crisis open up a new window increase in extreme weather events, a massive loss of opportunity and accelerate the environmental in biodiversity (according to the IPBES, our planet transition? As many are imagining the post-crisis has entered its 6th mass extinction period – the first world, this pandemic has shown, once again, how to be caused by mankind…), the depletion of soils difficult it is for us to measure the full impact of so- and food-related implications, among many other cietal and environmental abuses on the living impacts. world. Early 2020, the World Economic Forum mapped The statistics speak for themselves, actually high- out the main risks that our societies and our planet lighting the severity of the issue: while caution over are exposed to: this revealed that risks associated the Covid-19 pandemic is naturally required – the with natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, extreme virus has led to over 550,000 deaths worldwide so temperatures or water crises were not simply more far1, AIDS, despite receding significantly, still killed likely to occur than the risk of infectious diseases 770,000 people in 2018, and tuberculosis is on the (including Covid-19), but they also have a much rise and linked to over 1.3 million deaths. more destructive impact. 1 Source: World Health Organisation, COVID-19 data as of July 5th 2020, other data at end 2018.
Source: Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – March 11, 2020 Over the past few weeks, huge, unprecedented means were deployed in response to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 virus; the fast and massive decisions made by governments and the solidarity shown by the corporate world are commendable. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the environmental transition is not moving at the pace it should, and that the measures that have been taken so far are insufficient. With all indicators urging us to take action, will our commitment be commensurate with the environmental risk we are facing? The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 23
at Sycomore aM, we believe that the health crisis isn’t hindering – and won’t hinder – the environmental transition. On the contrary, it requires that we respond urgently to improve the resilience of our society and of our lands. and if we look at the issue more closely, it seems in actual fact that planets are aligning to encourage stronger and faster environmental action. EnvIROnMEnTaL COnSIdERaTIOnS havE EnTEREd ThE pUBLIC dEBaTE Very gradually, the idea that safe- guarding the environment is an everyday consideration has become widespread. Civil society had grasped the issue and is a driving force for the transition. Due to the threat of climate change, many environmental groups are emerging, calling for governments to swing into action as quickly as pos- sible. The number of activist groups is rising fast: Fridays for Future, youth- Strike4Climate, Extinction Rebellion. Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, for example, has become an iconic voice for the global climate movement and has convinced thousands of young people to organise climate marches to convey the message. These individual and collective initiatives, in their thousands, are transforming ways of life and are pointing us towards more moderation and solidarity in our consumer habits. Civil society is becoming increasin- gly stringent with companies, demanding more traceability and transparency, nota- bly on consumer products. Accenture Strategy’s 14th report, Global Consumer Pulse Research , which analysed the ans- wers provided by almost 30,000 consu- mers across the world, revealed that the latter are now attracted to companies that commit to using quality ingredients (80%), that treat their staff fairly (64%) and actively Source: Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images support environmental protection (62%).
The massive boom enjoyed by the organic food mar- Green Deal will survive the economic fallout caused ket is a perfect example: throughout the world, the by the epidemic, the European Commission has market for organic produce has grown almost four- reaffirmed that its green deal embodies the Euro- fold over the past 10 years to reach 100 billion euros pean Union’s new growth strategy. Its main objec- today2. Similarly, the huge enthusiasm for cycling as tive: carbon neutrality by 2050. While the current a means of transport in large cities – which began well target is to cut CO2 emissions by 40% from 1990 le- ahead of the health crisis – reflects a new way of life, vels by 2030, this is likely to be taken further during particularly as bicycles prove very efficient in town the summer with a 50% to 55% cut by 2030. The with an average speed of 15 km/hour versus vice-president of the Commission stated that “the 14km/hour for a car! level of urgency has increased”. He is urging not to reconstruct the “pre-crisis” economy and confirmed the commitments made with the Green Deal: 50 measures to be implemented over the next 30 years designed to make deep changes to our ways our ConviCTion: Companies ThaT Fail of living, producing, working and spending. To rise To The Challenge, use At the end of May, the European Commission also This TransiTion To aCCeleraTe Their unveiled plans for the EU’s economic recovery fund. TransFormaTion and prompTly meeT The “Next Generation EU” is a 750-billion-euro plan These new requiremenTs will suFFer over 2021-2024, which will come in addition to the From negaTive eConomiC impaCTs European budget for 2021-2027 and includes an on Their business over The mid unprecedented focus on sustainable development To long Term: loss oF CompeTiTiveness, issues. 25% of the 1,850 billion euros will be used boyCoTTs, loss oF operaTing liCenCes, to finance the acceleration of the environmental addiTional CosTs eTC. transition and will take into account the “do no harm” principle – a Europe-wide taxonomy aimed at avoiding further harm and destruction through targeted actions. ECOnOMIC RECOvERy pLanS pLaCE a gREaT These investments will focus on a number of speci- EMphaSIS On ThE TRanSITIOn fic sectors: With the economic shutdown caused by the epidemic, • 350 billion euros4 will be invested to accelerate the questions are being raised over the actual deployment pace of home renovations from 1% to 3% of overall of the recovery plans: how will the billions of euros be construction (insulation, efficiency of heating and air- injected and how much importance will be paid to en- conditioning systems, and lighting, which are believed vironmental issues? Scientists and specialists currently to cause 30 to 40% of CO2 emissions); estimate that the investments required to meet the Sus- tainable Development Objectives (SDOs) range bet- • 35 billion euros to support the development of ween 5 and 7 trillion dollars per year at worldwide level3. renewable energy (an additional 15 GW – or more With doubts raised over whether the European than 25% of the installed capacity in 2019); 2 Source: https://www.entreprendre.fr/marche-du-bio-un-essor-exceptionnel/ 3 World Investment Report, UNCTAD, 2014. 4 Investment of 91 billion euros, 350 billion euros with leverage effect. The Responsible Way - Urgency and resilience | 25
• 5 to 30 billion euros invested to fund the development conventional energy producers. Across the world, of green hydrogen, produced from renewable energy their production costs are dropping year after year. rather than natural gas; According to the data collected by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) covering around • 40 billion euros for the development of rail infra- 17,000 projects in 2019, since 2010, costs have fallen structures; 82% for photovoltaic solar energy, 39% for on-shore wind energy and 29% for off-shore wind energy! • 20 billion euros in incentives for the purchase of Naturally, this creates incentives for governments to electric vehicles; continue “green” initiatives and develop new projects to encourage these advancements. Incidentally, after • 30 billion euros invested in the development of the taking a wait-and-see approach during the first circular economy (recycling and plastic substitutes weeks of the crisis, major European investment in particular); funds dedicated to energy transition, including the fund run by the Caisse des Dépôts, are now back on • 130 billion euros to fund the installation of high- track and ready to fund the best projects. debit Internet in rural areas to boost digitalisation in agriculture and accelerate organic farming. ThE TRanSITIOn MUST BE FInanCEd By aLL ECOnOMIC SECTORS gREEn EnERgy IS InCREaSIngLy COMpETITIvE Beyond incentives, regulation or supply, the environ- The recovery plans can help entrench these transforma- mental transition can only gain momentum if all of tion trends. Particularly as producing responsibly tends us - companies, individuals and investors alike – to prove economically profitable over the mid-term. make deep changes to the way we behave. Luckily, many companies have been active for a number of Renewable energy is a good example: renewables years and are paving the way for change, and others are increasingly competitive, both for producing are managing the shift in order to play a role in the electricity and heat, to the extent that public grants collective environmental transformation, but also to are no longer intended to subsidise the industry, but meet the needs of clients who are increasingly to speed up capacity and boost growth opportuni- concerned about the social and environmental issues ties for players that have already made considerable we are now facing. progress on the renewable energy learning curve. The energy sector, the backbone to sustainable For instance, the Spanish group Solaria specialised as early as 2002 in the design, manufacture and installa- tion of solutions for photovoltaic and thermal systems. The company now has a busy portfolio of projects and many network connections, an undeniable competitive advantage. Technological progress and industrialisation have en- abled the more mature companies within these indus- tries to become particularly competitive compared to
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