Video : ICOR member discusses the impact of greenwashing on sustainability managers

Susana Esper is a professor of CSR and business ethics at IÉSEG and a member of ICOR. She was recently interviewed, as part of IÉSEG’s 60-seconds Inside videos, about her research which is looking how “greenwashing’ can impact and trigger reactions with sustainability managers.

Together with colleagues from ICOR and IÉSEG, they have been looking at how these managers, who are responsible for the concrete application of companies sustainability and CSR strategy, react to contradictory talk and actions either from top management or other segments of middle management. Their research provides an insight into the challenges they may face and how their roles can potentially be strengthened.

 

Focus on IÉSEG’s Responsible Leaders initiative

In 2018, IÉSEG launched the Responsible Leaders initiative, which aims to involve students in Lille and Paris-La Défense in the different activities and actions related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development within the School.

Each year, this voluntary initiative groups between 10 and 20 students together, who work on projects related to the School’s CSR strategy, in close relation with Maria Castillo, the CSR Manager and a member of ICOR.

Find out more by reading this article on the IÉSEG website : https://www.ieseg.fr/en/news/focus-on-responsible-leaders-initiative-students-engagement-in-csr-strategy/

Staying in grace: Why some people are immune from scandal – until they’re not (Marco Clemente – The Conversation France)

Marco Clemente, professor of CSR and a member of ICOR, recently published this article on the Conversation France with his co-authors from the US and Canada.

The authors note that not all scandalous acts result in a scandal or produce the same consequences and ask “How can we explain the fact that some prominent figures seem able to resist the consequences of their own behavior, and to be seemingly immune from scandals?”

Read the full article on the Conversation France (Marco Clemente, IÉSEG School of Management; Jo-Ellen Pozner, Santa Clara University et Tim Hannigan, University of Alberta) : https://theconversation.com/staying-in-grace-why-some-people-are-immune-from-scandal-until-theyre-not-140908

Guillaume Mercier – « Should companies have strategies for encouraging benevolence between staff? »

Based on an intervieGuillaume Mercier_v2w with Guillaume Mercier, IÉSEG, about his paper* “Formal and Informal Benevolence in a Profit-Oriented Context” (Journal of Business Ethics, 2019), co-authored with Ghislain Deslandes.


To address employee disengagement, some business leaders are considering incorporating benevolence into managerial practices. However, to what extent can and should a genuine, caring attitude among colleagues be managed? IÉSEG’s Guillaume Mercier examined these practices and offers tips to help foster kind attitudes in the workplace.  


“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest,” wrote Adam Smith back in 1776, setting the tone for what would become capitalism. Indeed, modern corporations often still operate with profit, not kindness, in mind. However, they are paying the price, with cynicism and disenchantment undermining employee motivation, if not threatening the whole organizational system as we know it. Some business leaders and business school curriculums advocate benevolence within companies to bring meaning back to the workplace. Certain corporations have even set up processes to encourage altruism within the ranks.

But can benevolence be artificially induced? And could such strategies be counterproductive? To date, little research attention has been paid to how companies encourage their staff to behave more kindly towards each other in a profit-oriented setting. In order to address this gap, Guillaume Mercier and Ghislain Deslandes examined a practice known as “upward feedback” in a French consulting firm.

Monitoring relationships in the workplace

In an upward feedback system, staff report on their managers in routine appraisals with the aim of encouraging managers’ good treatment of their subordinates.

“There is a lack of benevolence in many organisations and we investigated how corporations can instil it in their practices. We observed that they want managers to reach a certain level of benevolence. But they don’t want them to be too benevolent because they fear it would be detrimental to the corporation, with employees potentially taking advantage of what they could perceive as a manager’s weakness, lack of authority or leadership, ” Mercier explains.

“We saw that corporations monitor benevolence with the help of formal tools (feedback systems, rewards and punishments, etc.) so that managers are caring enough that employees stay within the corporation and are motivated and perform well. This is benevolence aimed at growing profit. We also saw a second type of benevolence, which is informal, and develops at the margins of the corporation, without any monitoring by the directors. This is discretionary; anyone can decide to be caring with the aim of friendship or mutually beneficial relationships.” Mercier and Deslandes identified three key lessons from their work:

Give room to employees to develop informal benevolence

Artificially encouraged benevolence is one thing, but it is no replacement for letting relationships flourish organically. It is important that employees have the opportunity to bond and to develop relationships; these bonds will prove valuable for healthy working relationships within a company. “Managers should give room and create spaces for employees to have real discussions and interact with one another and become friends,” says Mercier.

Do not rely on informal benevolence alone

While it is important that companies do give their employees space to be benevolent informally, informal benevolence alone is insufficient for healthy work relationships in corporations. In the real world, companies cannot rely on the assumption that employees will like one another and behave benevolently to each other, on their own. Benevolence must be monitored to send the message that a kind and caring attitude is required and an essential part of the job, not only for the good of the corporation, but also for the good of everyone in the company.

True benevolence should not be bound by profit

Is benevolence genuine if it is bound by profit? Today “formal benevolence is too much seen as an instrument for creating profit”, says Mercier, but if we want benevolence to develop fully then we must consider benevolence as a value in itself.”

Employees who scrutinise their managers’ benevolence will be more likely to be positively impacted by it if they see it as genuine. This raises a ‘benevolence paradox’: benevolence is more efficient in influencing beneficiaries’ behavior when it does not appear to be directed at this objective, when it is felt to be authentic. True benevolence requires acting in a way that serves the good of another: being attentive as a manager to employees’ needs, personal development, professional development and work-life balance. This goes beyond merely offering perks or making table football available. It consists in a real attention to employees’ personal good, for example: what task or responsibilities should the manager  give an employee to help them develop new skills, when should they accept that they stop working at the expense of company profit and encourage them to devote themselves to their family life.


Applications

Mercier and Deslandes’ work will be valuable for companies that are considering how they can foster healthy relationships and behaviors within their workforce and help their employees progress.

Methodology

In this study, Guillaume Mercier and Ghislain Deslandes conducted interviews with staff and collected data in a French consulting firm.

Biography

Guillaume Mercier is an assistant professor in business ethics at IÉSEG. In his research, he focuses mainly on the development of virtues (benevolence, truth-telling, practical wisdom, etc.) in an organizational context, and the interaction between individual and organizational ethics. He has been investigating the insights of the Catholic social thought for business, especially the notions of common good and community. He received his Ph.D. in Management Sciences and Business ethics at ESCP Europe in 2016.


*“Formal and Informal Benevolence in a Profit-Oriented Context” (Journal of Business Ethics, 2019) Guillaume Mercier (IÉSEG School of Management) and Ghislain Deslandes (ESCP Europe).

Hugo CALAMINI crowdfunds for Destiny Foundation

Professors at IÉSEG Center for Organizational Responsibility (ICOR) guide students that offer pro-bono service to social ventures. Hugo Calamini, a Master student at IESEG School of Management, is conducting a consulting project and has launched a crowdfunding campaign for Destiny Foundation, a social enterprise based in Calcutta, India. The social enterprise, under the direction of its founder Smarita Sengupta, aims at empowering vulnerable women who are victims of sex trafficking or who are at high risk of exploitation. At least €255 in 18 days remain to be raised.

Destiny Foundation PosterThe objective of the campaign is to purchase a computer and recruit a digital literacy trainer in order to develop the company’s social activities. The funds will allow the female beneficiaries to acquire computer skills that will help them pursue a respectable living! This project is fully in line with IÉSEG’s mission and the values of ICOR to train responsible managers.

Please contribute here: https://www.kisskissbankbank.com/en/projects/destiny-foundation

More on Destiny Foundation: http://destinyreflection.org/

 

Jules MARTINA offers pro-bono consulting and campaigns for UMEED, an Indian social venture

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In 2020, UMEED aims to serve more than 90 women originating from unprivileged backgrounds. Through their FirstLeap program, UMEED aims to empower them, make them employment ready and include them into the Indian workforce. The women at UMEED need YOUR help to make this happen : https://bit.ly/3bn9yio !

UMEED, a social venture based in Hyderabad, India. The venture creates social impact by helping women from low income communities- morally, socially and financially, through a training program that focuses on their skill building and developing values and mind-set. The organisation helps to empower them to take better control of their lives.

Since 2014, more than 150 women have been successfully trained through UMEED’s community workshops. It is through such workshops and a total of 2 months trainings that the women gain skills, overcome cultural barriers and encourage themselves to participate in the Indian workforce. The women often get access to employment in enterprises or develop their own businesses after completing their training at UMEED.

But those 2 months of trainings have a cost, and it is through this crowdfunding campaign that you can help them. Every participation, and every share, will allow UMEED to help this community of women to seek a brighter future. As a junior consultant, Jules MARTINA, a Master student at IÉSEG School of Management, is offering pro bono service to UMEED and its co-founder, Udita Chadha to raise funds in order to help the social venture pursue its training activities. Jules says, “So far, the project has helped me gain knowledge on social entrepreneurship, which is also the main topic of my dissertation

Jules and the women at UMEED are counting on you! Donate to their campaign here: https://bit.ly/3bn9yio«