Eloïse Reybel and Clément Babinet are recent graduates of the Advanced Master’s in Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management. They analyzed the workings and values of the most ethical companies whose end-goals meet the challenge of sustainable and responsible development. Following their analysis, they created a web series with seven 7 minute episodes about 7 companies with alternative CSR models.
Eloïse and Clément started with a fundamental vision: giving meaning to work is essential for founders, directors and employees at any company in the social and solidarity economy. During their placement year of the Advanced Master’s in Entrepreneurship at GEM, they wanted to explore this vision through the perspective of alternative-type companies that are successful in their fields. The name of their web series is OtraVia.
From March to September 2018, five volunteer students with degrees in management, journalism, graphical design and cinema worked on the research and creation of this documentary. “The freely usable videos we created were well received by the companies we questioned, especially since they generally focus little on communications. Trust and transparency were strongly present for both directors and founders,” explains Eloïse, who created an association with Clément in order to run the project.
Underlining the variety and richness of alternative models
Food industry, energy, fashion, logistics, recycling, tourism, ethical finance… Most of the companies interviewed were based in Paris, except for La Nef, a cooperative bank based in Lyon. “The seven companies have a public interest mission at the heart of their activity. For all of them, CSR is not just a tool. Their whole strategy is based on creating a positive impact on society. And the results speak for themselves,” underlines Eloïse.
For example, LemonTri works in the field of recycling by promoting its transformation processes for a circular economy. Veja sneakers are created with organic materials that pollute less than traditional materials. Their production is also ethical with foreign manufacturers being paid correctly to ensure proper working conditions. And the sneakers are priced similarly to other brands with growing success through sales on websites such as Galerie Lafayette or La Redoute.
In the social and solidarity economy, three cooperative companies (Enercoop, Biocoop and La Nef) were analyzed in terms of their governance model. Their model? A democratic governance where each employee can be an associate, have a voice and participate in the company’s capital. “Cooperative companies are often perceived negatively. In the cases we looked at, decisions are made in a collaborative manner and most of the participants are highly motivated,” highlights Eloïse.
How do these companies prosper?
“Their professional energy is aimed at helping a cause. Therefore the motivation and engagement of participants is very strong. Most directors, founders and employees are engaged activists with experience in more traditional markets. Their actions and awareness of a responsible economy are key. Another important fact is that alternative companies don’t have to be on the fringe: Veja sneakers are fashionable and selling well!”
Today, these models have shown their worth and underline the value of ethical and transparent economic behavior. “Generation Y consumers are definitely supporting the sustainability of these alternative models,” concludes Eloïse.