Economic performance and CSR: a necessary convergence

Economic performance and CSR: a necessary convergence

This article was previously published on Orange.com.

Orange is partnering with the 11th Convergences World Forum held on 3 and 4 September. Brigitte Dumont, Orange Group CSR Director is taking this opportunity to talk about the company’s main societal and environmental commitments – which reflect a policy that’s firmly focused on creating shared and sustainable value. She also explains the thinking behind one of the major questions for an international group in terms of sustainable development: “How do you align fundamental human rights and economic growth?” This topic will be discussed in depth at the forum with representatives from the ILO, Global Compact and Human Rights Watch.

For a long time, businesses focused first and foremost on their financial results, but they’re now reconciling economic performance with their ethical commitment: do you think these two objectives are compatible?

They’re not just compatible but necessarily and intrinsically linked for a company to be responsible.

At Orange, we firmly believe that digital technologies enable meaningful progress for everyone. What’s more, our CSR policy is part of our Essentials 2020 strategic plan because it’s closely linked to our business model, which aims to optimise the creation and distribution of value among all stakeholders (customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, local communities…). Consequently, we must pay attention to our impacts because there can be no sustainable economic performance without integrating environmental, social and societal issues, including ethics and responsibility.

This means we actively listen – it’s the foundation of our stakeholder dialogues and the social barometer conducted by our HR team.

We know that if we’re among the leaders in certain markets it’s because we’re trusted. As such, ensuring we protect human rights plays a leading role, given our operations and presence in 28 countries.

Finally, our performance and the value generated by our commitment and the work we do in our different regions and communities are linked to our contribution towards economic development in the countries where we operate. It’s a virtuous circle: creating local value creates employment and contributes to developing a middle class and more broadly to the national economy. We conducted in-depth studies of our operational impacts in 4 countries. Measuring how we created value allowed us to understand our impacts in three ways: the local footprint, the wider footprint and finally the footprint of our CSR actions, through which we can show significant growth. Our approach and results are published in our 2017 integrated annual report.

Can you remind us of the key areas of Orange’s CSR policy and how they relate to performance objectives?

We’re working to ensure digital technologies make the world a better place for everyone through a set of three major commitments, with performance indicators reported for each. Firstly, we want to be a trusted operator in terms of our employees and customers. This is actioned through our Group HR policies and initiatives in the field of sustainable marketing, data protection, supporting new uses and responsible purchasing.

Next, we actively participate in the socio-economic development of the countries in which we operate. We support the innovation ecosystem (FabLabs, incubators, start-up support programmes etc) and entrepreneurs who develop products and services that meet local needs by leveraging ICT, particularly for social, societal or environmental purposes.

Finally, we’re active in terms of ecological and energy transition, focusing on reducing energy consumption and the circular economy. We’ve implemented action plans to reduce our own environmental impact and enable our customers to better control theirs.

How does Orange uphold its commitment to human rights through its activities?

Through everything we do, with our employees, customers and society more generally, we continually respect human rights, social dialogue, freedom of expression and expectations about data protection. We also have an active HR policy on diversity and of course skills development. When it comes to professional equality, all our Group subsidiaries run programmes throughout the world. We’re not hindered by the culture or any lack of legislation in a particular country, everyone is proud to take part.

We’re also definite that CSR does not stop with what goes on inside our own walls: our responsibility extends to how our suppliers and subcontractors behave. Our suppliers are often the same as our competitors’ and we believe in the strength of collaboration to achieve better business for all. That’s one of the reasons why, along with Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, we’re a founding member of the JAC (Joint Audit Cooperation), which now brings together 17 different operators.

In this context, we carry out analysis on our subcontractors and share it at an annual forum with suppliers and NGOs where we raise awareness about certain subjects and share best practices. This approach has helped us to improve working conditions, strengthen the fight against corruption and implement initiatives to reduce pollution along the entire subcontractor chain. This is proof that adopting good ethical practices generates positive economic results.

Orange is taking part in this year’s Convergences Forum. How does this type of initiative help push boundaries?

The Convergences Forum highlights inspiring initiatives that are recognised for their quality and impact. The themes discussed are in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and result in timely and pertinent reflections on how to achieve them. Participants come from diverse backgrounds and everyone is invested and open to discussion. There are many workshops, conferences and roundtables on how digital technology can ensure meaningful progress, which enables very enriching meetings and discussions.

The Convergences World Forum: towards an equal and sustainable world

On 3 and 4 September 2018 in Paris, the Convergences World Forum will bring together several thousand professionals around the theme: “Make society, Make tomorrow”. During the event, Orange will present several topics.

Launched in 2008, the Forum offers international experts and decision-makers the chance to learn, meet and work collaboratively to respond to the social and environmental challenges affecting both developed and developing countries.