ESG, an “enhanced” vision of the company’s purpose, by Laurent Toutain

Laurent Toutain has joined Aurore Bardon as member of the ESG Lab & Society Mission Committee. He shares his vision of ESG, which for him is like “an enhanced vision” of the company’s purpose. He also discusses the role of the ESG Lab & Society, which, by offering a space for neutral meetings with multi-stakeholder actors, provides a new and innovative proposal.

ESG criteria are key indicators of corporate performance

ESG, three letters whose meaning remains unknown to the general public but which are becoming increasingly important in the life of companies. They are the second pillar for assessing and evaluating the impact and performance of companies alongside the traditional P&L (profit and loss).

It is no longer a matter of adding in the last pages of its activity report a few cosmetic graphics and displaying a list of good intentions that are not very engaging.

Those who seriously want to be part of a sustainable development ambition must have a vision of their environmental, social and governance issues.

ESG: an “enhanced” purpose for the companies

This vision reflects the place that the company is committed to taking in society, its social utility, but also the place that citizens want it to take.

The question of acceptability has increased considerably with the internationalization of the economy, the successive economic crises and more recently the awareness of the scale of the climate challenge. It is no longer up to shareholders or rating agencies to dictate performance criteria, all the stakeholders who interact with the company want to take their part to draw a reason to be “increased” the company. Indeed, beyond value creation, the cornerstone of our market economy, the ESG is interested in sharing and measuring its net effects on our prosperity, well-being, biodiversity, climate… simply and more broadly about our daily lives.

It is up to each company to chart its course according to its history, its activities, its geographical, environmental footprints, its size… by implementing a sincere approach based on two pillars: transparency and dialogue.

Demonstrate transparency to build on a strong, concrete and shared foundation that builds trust between stakeholders. Dialogue to enrich points of view, to understand one another, to assess differences, to draw points of convergence.

The maturity of this approach varies greatly from one company to another, from one sector of activity to another, and even from one country to another. The ongoing standardization process will help build a common framework.

The ESG Lab & Society: a new and innovative proposal

I my opinion, I personally and intimately carried an ESG practice in my professional activity without measuring it or seeing the precise contours ! It was only recently when I was in charge of the organization of the TotalEnergies General Assembly that I became aware of the importance and interest of adopting a structured, participatory and open approach.

The path chosen by Aurore to create the ESG Lab & Society immediately resonated and I immediately agreed to the proposed goal of co-construction with stakeholders in the ecosystem. The collective approach of sharing experiences and good practices generally leads to a better appreciation of the parties’ issues. It does not erase differences, it exposes them, challenges and creates bridges between the visions of each often locked in his referential universe.  Today, there are no places for these free and confidential exchanges of ecosystem actors. Public forums where actors intersect tend to reinforce postures and biased positions. By offering a space for neutral meetings with multi-stakeholder actors, the ESG Lab & Society brings a new and innovative proposal.