Louise Koutouan, CSR project manager at SGS, tells us how the company's CSR ambassador network works, how it was created and how it has evolved since its creation in 2018. Louise also shares with us the list of obstacles encountered when setting up this network. SGS is the global leader in testing, inspection and certification.

How the SGS CSR ambassador network was structured

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Louise Koutouan, CSR project manager at SGS , tells us how the company's CSR ambassador network works, how it was created and how it has evolved since its creation in 2018. Louise also shares with us the list of obstacles encountered when setting up this network. SGS is the global leader in testing, inspection and certification.

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

I am Louise Koutouan, who has been in charge of CSR at SGS for about 10 months. I am mainly in charge of the CSR network, my role is toanimate the network within the company, I also work on social commitment and reporting issues. As a support function, I help all departments and businesses of the company on CSR issues when needed.

How important is CSR for SGS today? 

CSR has been very important to SGS for over a decade now. The approach was redesigned in 2017 to make it more legible in the eyes of employees and to promote the transformation of operations. Our CSR approach is at the heart of the company's strategy both in internal commitments and in the development of new service offerings, as it is a strong expectation of our customers. 

It contributes to SGS's economic performance and is a lever for innovation and attractiveness for new employees and pride for existing employees.

A few years ago, SGS started building a network of CSR ambassadors. Why did you create this network and what is the role of these ambassadors today?

The network of CSR ambassadors was born out of the desire and need tointegrate all businesses and departments into our CSR approach, and above all with the aim of ensuring that all employees take ownership of the CSR approach. 

Today, this role is as important as it was when the network was created, and it has not changed. It is tolead, encourage and develop the CSR strategy locally

We have 3 types of ambassadors: 

Experts: present within the support functions, these are CSR specialists in specific areas of expertise (HR, IT, Building, Purchasing, Vehicle Fleet, Legal, etc.).

The referents: present in all divisions, they promote our CSR policy to customers and listen to their expectations in order to create and develop innovative responsible offers. 

The relays: real operational people, they are the CSR interlocutors of the sites and lead the approach locally. 

How did you build this network of ambassadors? What were the main steps?

Today, we have around 30 CSR ambassadors. Our ambition is to have all support functions, business divisions and the main sites represented. Some sites or functions are not sufficiently involved in the approach, and we are working to expand the network further. 

When we created the network in 2018, we issued a call for applications. We had defined missions by profile type, detailed contributions and time allocation. 

Since its creation, the network has evolved, some people have left the company, others have not wished to continue and new people have been appointed. 

What are the obstacles you have encountered in the construction and animation of this network?

The people involved in our CSR network have other missions, and it's not always easy to maintain mobilization. We also learn from our feedback!

The main obstacles are:

  • Lack of time for action on the part of ambassadors due to their jobs.
  • The lack of support and commitment from the hierarchy can be a hindrance to getting new relays and sometimes to the animation of the network.
  • Financial constraints.
  • The feeling of powerlessness or inability of some employees to act on certain issues.
  • The demobilization of employees.

Is this role of CSR ambassador a priority for employees?

Priority, not for all! It depends on the ambassadors, but it is most often due to their workload. On the other hand, this role is known to all and recognized because it is integrated into the missions via the signature of a mission letter by the managers and the ambassador himself. Theoretically, time is allocated to them for their ambassadorial missions.

And if we finish with the future... What are the next priorities for this network of ambassadors?

As I said at the beginning, the next priorities are toexpand the network and create a framework for regular exchanges with the ambassadors, as it can help to discuss with their peers and find common solutions.

Work together in thematic groups on priority subjects for them and facilitate their mission by providing them with what they need to be more efficient on their site. 

We are also thinking of reviewing and strengthening the specific training program to better equip them to carry out their missions. 

The implementation of these actions will be done by listening and by putting the human being at the center of our concerns.

This article is part of a series of interviews dedicated to CSR ambassadors. You can find the first article which tells how Business France succeeded in creating a network of ambassadors dedicated to the company's environmental issues, starting with a group of committed employees right here.

To learn more about building ambassador networks you can watch our webinar : Building a CSR Ambassador Network.

Want to see how to easily engage your CSR ambassador network?
Request a demo of Lakaa!

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