Baptiste Frelot, co-founder of Lakaa had the pleasure to participate to the conference "Defining a CSR strategy is good. Deploying it is better! 4 steps to get your teams (really) on board" during the Produrable exhibition.

Defining a CSR strategy is good. Deploying it is better! 4 steps to get your teams (really) on board

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Baptiste Frelot, co-founder of Lakaa had the pleasure to participate to the conference "Defining a CSR strategy is good. Deploying it is better! 4 steps to get your teams (really) on board" during the Produrable exhibition.

The conference was moderated by Minh Tran Kim, Managing Director of the CSR consultancy HAATCH, with guests Guillaume ClémentCEO & President (Blanchon Group); Corinne TesteCSR Director (Carmila); Antoine DionDirector of the Montesson shopping center (Carmila); Baptiste Frelot, CEO & Co-founder (Lakaa).

Throughout the conference, the speakers came back to the 4 steps to really get your teams on board:

  1. Define your CSR strategy
  2. Define action and mobilization plans
  3. Putting the right tools in place
  4. Bringing CSR to life

The conference is available in audio format, right here.

And here is the written transcript of the conference:

Step 1: Define your CSR strategy, the strategic compass: what do you want to contribute? why do you get up in the morning in your company?

Why is defining a CSR strategy an essential starting point?


"It's vital to define your strategy beforehand, because it acts as a real compass: it helps you stay on course and not get lost because the subject is so vast. We decided to position CSR as one of the Group's four strategic pillars, which forced us to reflect on it in the Executive Committee. We had no strategy, no ambition, no organization when we started thinking about it. The sustainability of the CSR strategy depends on the presence of CSR issues in the Executive Committee.

In other words, it was a process of maturation that allowed the members of the Codir to grow together. The reflection process also allowed us to listen to our ecosystem at 360° thanks to the materiality matrix and toaccept the unexpected. Typically, the traceability of products and the training of craftsmen have become key elements of our strategy.

We wanted to involve our employees in this fundamental reflection by sending out over a thousand questionnaires, which generated 250 responses. The majority of the responses were qualitative and helped us build the strategy. Thanks to them, we understood what employees wanted Blanchon to do. Our clients (Leroy Merlin and Point P in particular) asked us to integrate themes that surprised us. From the point of view of traceability, we had to go back up the chain of all the raw materials. This is very complex because these products are highly globalized. We also integrated the training of the stakeholders in the ecosystem (and in particular the craftsmen) to help them use our products properly. One of the key issues was to make sure that this strategy was unique to us, in line with our DNA and our corporate culture."

Guillaume, what advice could you give us when we approach this strategic phase?


"There are two elements. First, getting involved. Saying that CSR is becoming a strategic axis means devoting time to it and that is beneficial. General management must become more mature. In other words, you can't delegate too quickly, CSR is a matter for the entire Executive Committee.

Then, I would advise not to think in the short term and not to fall back into a cost/sales/ebitda consideration and therefore not to rush, to take the long view. Time and sequencing help employees to take ownership of the changes. HAATCH's support is very important in order to create this strategic compass. It will then be much more solid to start the changes."

Corinne, on the Carmila side, the starting point was also the construction of this "compass" from 2020, right?


"Effectively, our strategy was established in 2020. We worked with our employees in the field to define the strategy and start thinking about its deployment. We articulated it around the three axes (environmental, societal and social) and we worked across the board on governance. The strategy enabled us to align the entire Management Committee and to have a very clear direction. From 2020 onwards, we have had the means to achieve our ambitions: CSR has been strongly supported from a financial point of view by the Management.

As a consultant, I would say that the roadmap must be really solid, structured and robust. We must prioritize the subjects with the greatest impact and the greatest stakes, and the materiality matrix helps in the development of this reflection. It has to be very collaborative to involve people in the process, which also brings the strategy to life. Our Comex made the Climate Fresco this summer, and we hope to deploy it internally!"

Thank you Corinne, perfect transition to the collaborative, which is the cornerstone of mobilization. The second step is indeed to define the action and mobilization plans. They can be thought of together or separately. At HAATCH, we like to involve a working group from the start so that its members are the first ambassadors of the process.

Step 2: Define action and mobilization plans: can be thought of

Guillaume, once the strategy was established, you shared your roadmap with the entire staff, more than 300 people. How did you define and deploy the action plan?


"We had two options: recruit a CSR manager and deploy a top-down CSR strategy, or integrate CSR directly into the Group's values (including boldness and responsibility), which was the preferred option.

In concrete terms, we put out a call for applications from the Group's 360 employees on the six pillars. We were very positively surprised by the response: 90 people raised their hands to take part in the project and we wanted to leave no one out. Following this, we held three workshops over three full days, which represents a real human investment. A lot of ideas were generated! The Codir then filtered them but really respected the ideas coming from the employees.

There is a prerequisite to this approach: trusting the teams and employees, and going all the way in terms of transparency and communication. The downside is that we now have a 3-year prioritized roadmap. And the feedback from employees is very positive: they emphasized that the themes had become much clearer following the workshops, that it was concrete, that they had understood their role in the deployment. Above all, they noticed that sharing this time of reflection with employees from a wide range of functions had created the beginnings of a sense of belonging to the group."

And at the same time, how did you keep the Codir in the loop?


"I wanted to make the Board of Directors more mature, which is why the working group was the Board of Directors from the start. Following the workshops with the employees, we defined 6 major axes. Each member of the Board of Directors has become a sponsor of a working group, i.e. its spokesperson. This is going to be a precious asset to deploy the action plan and maintain this collective momentum."

As far as Carmila is concerned, you have common problems. Your real specificity is your network, synonymous with decentralization, which makes mobilization, control and animation even more difficult!


"It's a real challenge. We have to coordinate activities between the shopping centers, between Paris and the rest of Europe, and between headquarters and the field. I would like to emphasize that the CSR Department alone cannot be responsible for the entire CSR process. It is up to each department to carry the vision and deploy it to reach all employees.

Before, we used to use Excel files in which employees spontaneously declared their actions in relation to the CSR strategy. As you can imagine, this was very procedural and time-consuming. We were confronted with the limits of the tool and the reporting. Now, there are tools that make it possible to overcome the cumbersome nature of reporting and the constrained framework to turn it into an opportunity and bring real added value to daily life."

Step 3: Having the right tools / Data, the new frontier

Having the right tools is the third step. Data then becomes the new frontier, and that's where you come across Lakaa. While preparing this workshop, I also noticed that the platform was very well adapted to your needs, but especially that the way of mobilizing the teams was exemplary because it was very collaborative.

Baptiste, could you give us a quick overview of the platform and a word on the needs of the field?


"In three words, Lakaa is a platform that allows us to respond to three major problems when we try to mobilize the field. Antoine was one of the first people we met to understand the needs of local actors and adapt the platform to them.

First, there is a lack of inspiration. CSR is vast, and managers don't know what to do and need concrete examples. Then there is the lack of time: Center Managers and Store Managers have business priorities, so they need turnkey solutions and simple and pleasant reporting. Finally, there is the lack of appreciation (internally and externally): some sometimes feel that they are doing things in a vacuum and are a drop in the ocean, both locally and at the headquarters level."

Thank you Baptiste! And in terms of collaboration, I understand that you have brought on board people from the field, right Corinne?


"Yes, we did this in several stages. Thanks to the involvement of the shopping center managers in the design of the tool, the deployment was quick. Deploying Lakaa also allowed us to show what could be duplicated by easily explaining to people what to do and how. This has a double benefit: not only allowing local teams to get involved, but also identifying actions that work well and spreading them to all centers quickly in a very efficient way."

Once again, we have this idea of collaboration and of involving future users. Speaking of users, here is Antoine, Director of the Montesson shopping center for 7 years. Antoine, you were involved in this story, how did it go? What did this type of mobilization and deployment allow?


"As early as 2017 with the Center Directors, we were the first to be a force of proposal in CSR. We had regular reports on it. Personally, I was already invested in the subject.

It is important to know that a shopping center like Montesson generates a lot of waste every year. This is a direct consequence of the 5 million annual visitors. The Lakaa platform has made our work much easier in terms of recording the actions that were working well and duplicating them throughout the Carmila network. Today, I can clearly see the momentum that my colleagues and I have been building since 2017. In an efficient, intelligent and educational way, we have indeed started to change all together. I think that Lakaa's real contribution has been to provide a method for becoming an actor in CSR instead of undergoing it.

What is good is the permanent dialogue, and not just something that comes down from headquarters. It's a dialogue both at the level of preparation and afterwards in the use of the tool to ensure that we speak the language of the field, a simple and clear language, accessible to everyone. It allows us to share the efforts made collectively and to see the overall progress.

We need to have more and more precise indicator values and more and more quickly; this is a great strength of Lakaa! Our overall impact is very pleasing. Since the beginning of 2021, more than 160,000 people have been reached, more than 300,000 euros of funds have been raised and 680 tons of food have been collected to give to associations.

The job wall initiative is a concrete example. A mall manager relayed her idea on Lakaa. She simply allocated a space for job offers on a wall of the shopping center she managed. Immediately, 30 job offers were posted and the local press reported on them. Lakaa then allowed this job wall to be deployed in all the centers very quickly by spreading this good practice. For the first time, it was CSR that became the source of the dynamic. The base of the company and the head office meet in an efficient dynamic. This internal company social network has allowed all employees in other centers to pick and choose from the good ideas."

Did you encounter any particular pitfalls?


"We have to find the right balance in the actions offered both for our colleagues and also for the customers who come to our shopping centers. We can't solicit a customer every time they come into the store; these areas must remain pleasure zones."

And on the headquarters side, how do you make sure that it's still in line with your strategy?


"There may be proposals for actions that are out of step with our priority CSR issues. That's why we've kept our hand in validating actions locally to stay aligned with the strategy when center directors lose sight of it."

At Blanchon, do you have any initial feedback and secondary benefits to share?


"We validated the action plan just before the summer and we will soon start the deployment. I had a nice surprise when I was challenged by the plant people on the follow-up of specific action plans. I liked it because it shows their commitment and it's rare to see people from the factory getting involved and asking these kinds of questions.

And the second positive development is that the Board of Directors now feels more legitimate to talk about these issues. In their role as Sponsor, the members of the Codir have already made progress and can still do so, which has reinforced their legitimacy. There is no failure possible, only shades of success."

Step 4: Bringing CSR to life, the final step

Finally, the last step is to keep CSR alive, because we must not let the wind blow! How did you do it at Carmila?


"To make the tool live, we have to make sure that all the center directors use it and contribute to it. We also have to make sure that the contributions are well aligned with Carmila's priority issues, that the priorities are well understood, i.e. consistent with the activity, the values and the societal impact that we want to have.

We have kept the logic of dialogue with the ambassadors to maintain the link and the meaning. As governance of this dialogue, we have set up quarterly exchange committees. This dialogue makes it possible to understand how an action would be counter-productive in relation to the roadmap if it were implemented (pedagogy). The CSR committees and the ambassadors' network are part of this permanent exchange.

And more broadly, to bring CSR to life, we have set up a whole communication and mobilization plan. We broadcast four webinars a year (not mandatory), including one that represents the CSR strategy to everyone. We often have 50-130 people out of the 200 in the three countries. We also present the strategy to each newcomer in small groups. There are also the CarmiNews newsletters (which deal with the latest IPCC reports, for example), and more occasional ideas competitions which have brought up many ideas on specific CSR subjects.

The next step is to meet with the brands in our centers and their CSR managers. We have started to coordinate, that's the way it goes. For example, we're working with the restaurant industry on their hiring. The challenge over the next few months is also to synchronize these actions. This year, with the Network, Communication and CSR Departments, we have initiated the desire to have highlights that are now clearly identified, to carry our strategy more strongly."

For Blanchon there are also other beneficial effects, as the Group is in a phase of internationalization.


"The first challenge is to bring together the different divisions and countries. CSR is a collective and international issue from a strategic point of view. We are using this lever to act on this cross-functional issue.

The second challenge is to integrate the different cultures of companies that have only recently joined the Group. CSR can serve as a backbone to hang all the wagons together. When we choose to integrate companies into the Group, we evaluate and anticipate how to integrate them within these themes. It is very important to connect companies to the Group's global train in the case of growth through acquisitions.

You also have to say what you're going to do and do what you say. In communication, there is a need for relays, that's obvious. In project management, we have to ensure a real follow-up of the project as we would do to launch a product on the market. You solidify the process a lot at once. The point is to have spokespersons for the groups. However, project management is not a skill that is necessarily acquired in SMEs. It's a way of structuring CSR projects, bringing in skills and pushing other subjects beyond CSR."

Do you have any questions?

Question: Is Lakaa for all stakeholders?

BAPTISTE FRELOT: The platform is only available to internal collaborators.

Question: Have you popularized the 6 themes to cascade them throughout the Group?

GUILLAUME CLÉMENT: Of the six themes, the one on safety was directly associated with the operators. For this reason, we did not need to explain to them that day-to-day safety is part of the CSR strategy.

Question: Your 90 ambassadors, did you manage to motivate them?

GUILLAUME CLÉMENT: That remains to be seen! We have launched the action plans and the groups, let's wait 12 months to see what happens.

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