26 October 2021

Impact.gouv: a false start for the impact economy in France

Impact.gouv: a false start for the impact economy in France

Economic, political and public actors are unanimous: faced with repeated crises and the ecological and social emergency, we need to develop an impact economy and thus change our development model.

But to be up to the challenge and fight against the green & social washing that is developing, we need clarity and political will: unfortunately, this is not what is presented today by the (re)launch of the Impact.gouv platform

  • which confuses "responsible" CSR commitments with those concerning the Impact of companies
  • which does not set clear targets on the identified indicators, and remains optional

In the face of the scale of climate disruption and growing inequality, the urgent need to reform the economy has been heard by all, and this is a significant step forward. In the face of such urgency, the notion of the impact economy, which is particularly fashionable, is on everyone's lips.

This is an opportunity because this concept, which comes from the world of the social and solidarity economy, holds the promise of a genuine ecological and societal transition of our economies, due to its high standards and its capacity to transform on a large scale. But it is also a danger, because, emptied of its substance and used indiscriminately, impact will become a vague notion, incapable of responding to the imperative need to transform our economies.

The Impact Economy, unlike CSR, refers to the contribution of the company to the fair and sustainable transformation of the economy and society . It combines the search for positive effects (the direct contribution of a company to the improvement of society in reference to the 17 sustainable development objectives, the objectives set by the Paris Agreement or the objectives of inclusion, employment and the fight against poverty) and the control of its negative externalities on its direct, natural or human environment (ESG).

Does the platform clarify things and allow more companies to engage in such an approach, and therefore to have Impact?

It is a first step in pushing companies to disclose key non-financial indicators transparently, as required by their future European obligations.

However :

  • It does not reveal the commitment of companies to a positive impact, which seems to be a step backwards after the advent of the ESUS and Mission Company status, which make it possible to recognise and value the commitment of companies to a mission and to provide themselves with adequate governance, and thus to engage in a profound transformation of their activity, which is not limited to the control of its negative externalities,
  • By being only optional and by not setting any targets for any of the proposed commitments, it represents a missed opportunity for the public authorities to present companies with a clear path, enabling them to consider a transformation strategy that is commensurate with the country's social and environmental challenges.

We, entrepreneurs and committed leaders, therefore call for the governmental platform "Impact.gouv" to see its framework clarified and its ambitions raised to encourage the development of the Impact economy. It would then have the legitimacy to become the reference framework through which the public authorities could readjust the rules of competitiveness and facilitate the emergence of true social and ecological competitiveness. In this way, it would not remain an anecdotal initiative, but could become a lever for the transformation of businesses, which we sorely need.

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