Digital: a real booster for corporate CSR policies – economy morning

If there is one subject that the Covid-19 crisis has brought to light, it is that of individual and collective responsibility in our societies. This sudden end to our globalized mode of operation has generated a certain number of questionings, both among individuals and within companies. Real commitment to the climate, realignment of individual values ​​with professional activity, desire to have a tangible positive impact for the future, etc., all of these resolutions that must be part of the CSR approaches of companies, and this transversely. With this in mind, digital tools stand out as real accelerators of change.

The world after cannot be envisioned without increased social responsibility on the part of companies

Companies did not wait for Covid-19 to set up their CSR initiatives. Long before the crisis, issues related to climate change in particular were at the heart of companies’ strategies. But the benefits of these CSR policies were not always clear. 2020 marked a turning point: the Covid-19 broke the status quo and forced companies to
reposition itself. After a study[1], 75% of companies have formalized their multi-year CSR approach and 84% have set quantitative objectives for their contribution to sustainable development.

Beyond the environmental awareness linked to the crisis, companies find themselves facing a new generation of employees, millennials, which represent close to the

half of the payroll. Even more than their elders, they are looking for meaning in their professional activity and for a more global contribution to the planet. 39%[2] of employees say they are motivated by contributing to issues that go beyond the scope of the company. The emergence of mission-oriented companies is therefore not trivial. CSR has become an essential tool for attracting and retaining talent. Beyond its business dimension, the company must take part in broader economic, social and environmental issues. This commitment is valid throughout the company and at all levels.

DAF and HRD functions: boosters of change

Recycling of materials, more virtuous choice for components, initiatives aimed at working in eco-designed buildings, etc. : we often tend to consider the CSR component through the prism of logistics and operations management. However, a CSR approach can (and must) extend to all of the company’s business lines, and in particular to finance and human resources functions. The CSR issue thus goes beyond the operational dimension to engage all employees.

You should know that today, among the 2.5 billion invoices exchanged between companies each year in France, only 20% are digital documents. If the legislation making electronic invoicing compulsory from 2023 will make it possible to speed up the process, these figures clearly show the important lever represented by the dematerialization of financial documents within companies. By way of illustration, dematerializing all invoices will make it possible to save 250,000 trees each year (ie the equivalent of the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes combined). At the same time, the CFOs are called upon to contribute to discussions relating to the use of the company’s cash flow, and to the trade-offs to be made to ensure the future of the business and of the employees in a sustainable approach. The finance function thus plays a strong role in integrating CSR issues into company strategies.

HRD is also at the heart of the change process. It orchestrates employee participation in societal and / or charitable initiatives, and guarantees diversity. It is she who contributes to the implementation of collaborative digital tools within the company, and to the dematerialization of HR processes – in particular during this period of distancing. In organizations, DAF and HRD therefore play a major role in the implementation of CSR policies.

A digital revolution at the service of societal transformation

In business as elsewhere, change is driven by people. Digital tools are a way to respond to these macro issues and to the new expectations of the business ecosystem. In light of the Covid-19 crisis, they have shown that they can ensure business continuity and dematerialize a large part of the exchanges (human and documentary), while bringing on board the most reluctant and least prepared employees in this new dimension.

Digital has therefore made it possible to fundamentally transform company practices and accelerate their CSR approach. At a time when technologies are more easily adoptable and accessible, companies have the opportunity to accelerate their CSR strategy and adjust their raison d’être to the expectations of their employees.

Taking advantage of digital tools at the scale of the company and society will only happen with men. The associated stake is that of leading and supporting change. The CFOs and HRDs here have a role of influence with the entire business ecosystem, internally and vis-à-vis partners. Digital technology brings concrete solutions in favor of social responsibility, but let’s not forget that a tool, however powerful it may be, is only what we make of it!

[1] Produced by Deloitte, EY and MEDEF, September 2020

[2]According to the Observatory for Employees and Responsible Companies – Occurrence – February 2020