Insights on ESG by the Mission Committee President of the ESG Lab & Society

Jacques Maigné, former CEO of Hutchinson and President of the Mission Committee of the ESG Lab & Society, shares his very pragmatic point of view on ESG and the role of the ESG Lab & Society in this landscape.

The health crisis and its economic repercussions are rich in learning. They have initiated, or accelerated, awareness that will create profound changes. They have challenged us to manage constraining agendas and to face up to unprecedented technical challenges. We sometimes don’t even know if they are possible at the time we implement them.

In addition to these challenges, there are many discussions that complicate and confuse the rigorous vision that is necessary for the top management. This often prevents us from distinguishing deep and lasting changes from superficial and punctual trends…

…and of course, you must do everything at once.

Reshaping business model through ESG

The undeniable climate emergency has made the environmental impact of our activities a major concern for top executives and their teams. In fact, the need to reduce our carbon footprint will profoundly change our business models and, beyond that, the economic, social, and industrial organisation of our world.

Innovating, expanding production facilities and training those who run them, rethinking supply chains and responding to the constantly changing expectations of consumers has become a constant which, if poorly conceived and managed, will slow down the evolutionary process.

The societal dimension will enable us to shape more balanced and inclusive structures, but it will require each individual and each organisation to reposition itself in the new structures created. Everyone will have to find their marks, identify their role and mission, and this is never easy. It is a real societal change that is underway. Will our societies easily make the paradigm shift from profit to meaning that the pandemic has made inevitable? 

Finally, governance and the associated means of control will undoubtedly gain in rigour and importance in the management systems we know today. Management by process, often a source of dehumanisation, could put the individual before the system if we are not careful.

The products we sell will change under the – positive – pressure of our buyers’ environmental concerns. The governance and societal changes we are setting in motion will change the way we live and work.

Training and information required for all actors  

Everything is changing. But can we implement and integrate this change in harmony and in parallel with a constrained agenda? The answer is clear: no. But it’s not unavoidable. Putting in place ways of support, information and training for all stakeholders will facilitate the adoption of this change, and the balance of all in these new systems.

Information is first and foremost transparency and the communication of clear, realistic, and long-term objectives. It also involves to know and to communicate about the situation objectively and our means of action in the short and long term to implement the necessary changes.

In the field of the environment, the objectives must be ambitious, but they must above all be realistic. It would be pointless to demand what neither technologies nor mindsets can deliver. They must also be agreed upon, otherwise they will not receive the recognition and therefore the respect they need to be reached.

The formation will consist of exchanging good practices, learning rules and methods, and knowing what others are doing to travel the road to achieving our ESG ambitions faster and more safely.

It is this vocation that motivated the creation of the ESG Lab & Society, which fully responds to these progress objectives by bringing together all stakeholders and offering an open framework for information and training in a respectful and transparent manner.