A truly responsible company, the raison d’être: a lever for innovation and performance – EconomieMatin

“In 2019, the Pacte law invited business leaders to drive the transformation towards a more responsible capitalism, long awaited by the new generations. In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, in 2020, we saw this vision at work: many business leaders have made a gesture of solidarity with their employees, caregivers, patients and local communities. This change is urgent and can help get through the serious economic crisis which, as we write these pages, threatens to follow the pandemic … “

The truly responsible company offers a pragmatic vision of corporate responsibility, combining the approach of economist Patrick Lenain and that of entrepreneur Jean-Noël Felli, a specialist in innovation and transformation issues, in particular on questions related to the rationale and societal impacts.

“In the book, Patrick takes stock of capitalism and explains how the purely financial view of the company has exacerbated the current problems. Jean-Noël explains that the way out to the top consists in considering the company’s profitability and responsibility as complementary. For us, these two objectives are mutually reinforcing: a a company is all the more profitable and sustainable if it takes its social responsibility – that is to say social and environmental – seriously, taking care not only of its stakeholders, but also of society as a whole . Because it is useful for its ecosystem, the 21st century company will be protected by this same ecosystem. . “

In order to illustrate the authors’ words with concrete examples, the book offers its readers boxes of testimonials from executives such as that of Stéphane Milhet, vice-president of human resources at Gefco, of Patrice Carayon, president of the pharmaceutical laboratory Chiesi France, Emery Jacquillat, President of Camif, or even a focus on good practices.

PREFACE EXTRACT by Pascal Demurger, CEO of the MAIF group

“In our collective imagination, ‘doing good’ and ‘making profit’ have always been two contradictory expressions, almost separating individuals into two clans: those who contributed to the common good and the others, who only fed a system. greedy economic. Companies were then of course classified in the second category, that of organizations that were concerned neither with their impact on society nor with living together. Students, then leaders, we were thus trained to conceive the company through this prism, reinforced by the economic thought which has always described it as an entity devoted exclusively to the search for profits.. The theory was not the only question, however. A business, on a day-to-day basis, was above all concerned with finding customers, keeping them, adapting its offer to the expectations of its last, hiring or debauchery, achieving a result objective and distributing profits. Suffice to say that the company rarely cared about the outside world for anything other than what was within its purpose. But, for some time, another vision has shaken up this classic pattern: the company would also have a “raison d’être”, a role within society, beyond its economic activity. From a handful of companies at the start, we are now more and more likely to be convinced that the company of the 21st century can not only participate in the emergence of a more respectful, united and responsible capitalism, but that it must also reinvent its role and its place in society. Jean-Noël Felli is one of those who, very early on, understood that this change was at work and that it was now necessary to support it.

Because if the leaders were able for a long time to take refuge behind ignorance of the scope of their acts or their decisions, today it is no longer possible to run a company without being aware of the consequences of its action.


Why write this book on “the truly responsible business”? What is the added value of the crossed perspectives of a manager of a consulting firm and an economist? ? And above all, why write this book now, when our society has just been deeply shaken by the Covid-19 epidemic and the acceleration of changes in our lifestyles, our social relations and our professional approaches? So many questions to which we wanted to answer to introduce this work.

For more than 25 years, Jean-Noël Felli has supported business leaders in their transformation and innovation initiatives. By helping them to reveal their raison d’être and to change their ways of acting, Jean-Noël has enabled these companies and their managers to give meaning to their project by drawing on their ecosystem and responding to societal imperatives. Some business leaders and managers may see in this question of the raison d’être, at best, a tool for communicators and, at worst, a philosophical rambling far removed from the economic considerations of the company.. But it is the opposite: an approach combining responsibility and profitability is essential today to make the company competitive and prepare it to face the challenges that will not fail to appear in the post-Covid-19 world. By rallying all its stakeholders around it, the company will be better prepared to face international competition, economic fluctuations, technological changes, movements of opinion and social conflicts. The law on the action plan for the growth and transformation of companies (Pacte) provides a framework for the notion of raison d’être and of company with mission, aiming to transform the company and adapt it to the many changes which are announced for the world of tomorrow.

For the past thirty years, Patrick Lenain has traveled around the world to advise governments wishing to put in place better policies in the face of economic, societal and environmental challenges. In this position, Patrick was able to observe the successes of contemporary capitalism: the construction of economic and monetary Europe, the spectacular take-off of Asia, the modernization of Latin America, the integration of the former communist countries into the global economy, and the creation of formidable supply chains linking countries together. But he was also able to observe that capitalism is not tender: international competition is fierce, economic crises are recurrent, the damage to the planet continues to worsen, ethical and corruption issues remain relevant, and many people stay away from the wealth gains. His research published in 2017, “Doing Well by Doing Good” 1, was the beginning of a questioning of the role of companies in solving these problems. Throughout his travels, Patrick has met business leaders who seek, at their level, to improve the society in which they live. Their efforts will be essential in a world seeking to recover from the serious health crisis of Covid-19.

We have different jobs, but both of us are looking for solutions so that our economic system is better able to meet societal and environmental challenges.. Our differences of course are a lever for reflection, which allows us to seek complementarities between the economic approach and the managerial approach.

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