Become a Société à Mission, make a choice for your company to be a force for good

We are now at a tipping point. Businesses no longer have a choice. Only organizations that have a positive impact on the world will prosper because they will be chosen, by consumers, by younger generations, by investors. Today, the relationship between influence and trust has been disrupted. Thus, 67%* of French people expect leaders to get involved in the management of social problems.

The question for companies is no longer just the why but the how.

Whether large or small, the time has come for companies to put their raison d’être (purpose) at the heart of their business.

The presentation of Bris Rocher’s Mission Report on October 19, 2021, on Responsible Corporate Governance, is an opportunity to recall the tremendous opportunity given to French companies to take up the challenge of transformation by becoming a ‘Société à Mission’, which means the objectives of the company in the social, societal and environmental fields align with the purpose.

 “Transforming business to transform society”**

Passed in May 2019, the ‘Loi Pacte’ endorses the societal role of the company and introduces the notions of “social interest”, ” purpose”. and “Société à mission” or “purpose-driven company”.

With the amendment of Article 1833 of the Civil Code, the tone is set: all companies must take into account the societal and environmental impact in their activity.

The ‘Loi Pacte’ also allows more voluntary companies to include a raison d’être (purpose) in their statutes (Art. 1835, Civil Code).

Finally, the most committed have the opportunity to adopt the status of Société à Mission (Art 210-10, Commercial Code). In this model, the company incorporates in its statutes a mission, which consists of a raison d’être and social and environmental objectives that it aligns itself with the mission to pursue in the course of its business.

Nearly 300 companies have already become Société à Mission, several hundred are in the process of doing so. More than 500,000 employees are thus involved in large groups (Danone, Camif, Maif, Groupe Rocher, La Poste), as well as in SMEs and Mid-cap companies (Vever, Anaik )

CSR is no longer enough; companies are moving towards more virtuous models. The movement is underway.

Société à Mission: the four fundamentals of the model

The mission that the company will include in its articles of association is composed of two key elements:

–       The raison d’être: It is for the company to explain how it contributes to the common good. This will form the backbone of the company, clarifying its vision for commitment, a strategic reference point, and a guiding force for the decisions. Singularly, it differentiates the company.

–       The associated social and environmental objectives, which “the company makes it its mission to pursue”, projects the company into creating concrete and measurable achievement aligning with its mission.

Two governance bodies are introduced by the ‘Loi Pacte’:

–       The Mission Committee

The particularity of the Société à Mission model is that it introduces a new specific kind of governance body. The mission committee, whose role is linked with that of the other bodies.

This committee is independent and is exclusively responsible for monitoring the mission. It must include at least one employee of the company allowing to integrate for the inclusion of external stakeholders of the company. While being the guiding council, the mission committee is there to challenge the company in its mission and objectives and help the management team in its decisions.

–       The Independent Third-Party Organisation

The ‘Loi Pacte’ also provides for the implementation of an evaluation by a verified Independent Third-Party Organization (ITO) whose role is to verify the achievement of statutory objectives and compliance with the commitments defined in the company’s statutes.

The first audit must take place within 18 months of the statutory change for companies with more than 50 employees and within 24 months for companies with less than 50 employees. The subsequent audits are carried out every two years for companies with more than 50 employees and every three years for companies with less than 50 employees.

 A pioneering model, an opportunity for companies to acquire a real strategic compass 

With the status of Société à Mission, companies in France are fortunate to have a unique frame of reference, even more, advanced than that of its American models of influence, the “benefit corporations” or “social purpose corporation”.

They must seize this framework to turn it into a real strategic compass and make the mission a reality at the heart of the activity. A compass that guides strategic and operational choices, that allows the measurement of progress and commits stakeholders towards a common destiny.

Becoming a Société à mission is a path that does not end with the modification of the statutes. The mission, as defined by the ‘Loi Pacte’, is a dynamic tool that enables us to move from a vision of leaders to an integrated and operational logic at the level of the business and each employee. By nourishing the company’s project, the approach activates three major levers of sustainable performance: commitment, innovation and transformation.

With the desire to restore meaning and to be part of a global approach towards positive contribution, the companies that will succeed in the future are those that have been able to reconcile value creation and utility.

In the midst of the COVID crisis, Bank of America Merrill Lynch argued that the most committed companies outperformed by 5 to 10 points. Yes, purpose becomes a competitive advantage.

It’s time to take action.

* Trust Barometer Edelman 2021

* *Community of Companies with Mission

Goodness & Co is a unique consulting platform for transforming purpose into value creation. We serve organizations on a mission in their transformation for positive impact in society. We help leaders embrace purpose and sustainability as a competitive advantage. We help organizations in their vision, sustainability policies, actions and governance to win. We make the movement happen, harnessing the power of people around you, with employees, partners and stakeholders. Time is now for business to be purposeful.