The idea that the role of the market economy cannot simply be to generate profits for the sole benefit of shareholders and that sustainability goes hand in hand with the consideration of broader interests is making headway in people’s minds.
The market capitalisations of the world’s largest corporations are now larger than the GDPs of many countries; through their actions, these companies are transforming our planet and the lives of millions of human beings. However, all companies - whatever their size, generate a social or environmental impact, whether positive, neutral or negative. And employees and clients have new and strong expectations which are encouraging them to reflect on this impact - and therefore support the companies acting for the common good.
Investors have little choice but to adopt this prism if they are to generate sustainable returns, first and foremost because not only are they shareholders, but they are also clients, suppliers, employees and simply members of society.
The fact that the regulatory authorities are working on defining a corporate status for mission-led companies shows how topical the idea of the ‘corporate role’ has become. We believe this process should not be about tightening the regulatory constraints that are already weighing on companies, but rather about fostering a protection-based and optional legal framework for those wishing to exert their social and environmental responsibilities, and that have understood its importance for their long-term economic performance.
Sycomore AM is a driving force in the thinking currently taking place over a new form of governance that would combine economic profitability with a contribution to the common good. In 2017, we co-financed a study conducted by the consultancy firm Prophil, “Mission-led Companies”, which was then extended with a practical handbook; we have strengthened our range of responsible investment funds with the SRI certification of Sycomore Shared Growth, which focuses on companies carrying a positive societal impact. Finally, we have engaged in dialogue with listed European companies on these issues. Getting involved, this is what we consider to be the role of a shareholder, with an approach combining purpose and performance in order to pursue our own mission: make investment more human.
In this issue of the Responsible Way, we shall offer our definition of a mission-led company and provide details on our societal impact analysis grid. We also leave the floor to Essilor and Schneider Electric, both pioneers in corporate social responsibility among public companies.
The opinions and estimates constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice. We believe that the information provided in these pages is reliable, but it should not be considered exhaustive. These data, graphics or extracts were calculated or made on the basis of public information we believe to be reliable but which nevertheless have not been subject to independent verification on our part.