Louis GALLOIS: What citizens expect from companies
Published on 03/21/2019
For the latest conference in the new series on the Humanities, Louis GALLOIS, Chairman of the PSA Peugeot Citroën Supervisory Board is the distinguished guest invited by NEOMA Business School. The perfect opportunity to consider and discuss the issue of corporate social responsibility in today's society.
It is 5pm when Louis GALLOIS takes to the stage in the large lecture hall on the Reims Campus. 300 students are present to listen to him talk about his wide-ranging experience: former Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers, former President of EADS, SNCF and Airbus.... He was also Commissionner General for State Investment under Ayrault, before taking up the position of Chairman of the PSA Supervisory Board in 2014. Today, Mr Gallois has accepted the invitation of Michel-Edouard LECLERC, to speak about corporate social responsibility in today's society.
Companies need to be committed
“In my opinion, companies have a true role to play in our societies. However, they are at times perceived as organisations where inequalities prevail. Where profit takes precedence over environmental value. Of course, these questions are important, but we must not forget the core mission of business: its true social role is through the creation of value and wealth.” In this respect, Louis GALLOIS is a true defender of business and its key place at the heart of today's society. But according to him, companies must regain the trust of their citizens. In return, this will necessarily involve making concessions. “We have to address the problem of inequality - should we legislate on executive pay? Play on taxation? Should shareholder power only be one-way? These are questions that each of us has the right to ask. The place of the employee in such settings must also be reconsidered.” For Louis GALLOIS, collective responsibility regarding long-term unemployment also lies with the State, as well as with business. “The lack of training in this country must be tackled head-on. For me, work-related learning must be at the heart of the discussions. The government has already backed this issue today, but it is also up to companies to take this on board, to go even further in the process.”
Companies, driving transformation
After his speech, which was illustrated by a series of recent examples that helped clarify his point of view, our special guest took part in a round table discussion led by members of the student society Néorateur and attended by Michel-Edouard LECLERC, where he answered a wide range of questions. The first of these dealt with digital transformation in companies and how this can be seen as an opportunity? “Automation is nothing new, so we shouldn’t be afraid of it. On the other hand, for me digitalisation is completely different because it transforms businesses and organisations. Now, I am an eternal optimist and I do not think that this structural transformation will lead to a massive destruction of jobs. For me, this represents an evolution of the landscape. The transition has to be managed and it is up to the companies to show that they are capable of controlling its effects.” Another important issue concerns corporate social and civic responsibility. “Companies are obliged to do more than simply make speeches. They now have to act and implement a genuine CSR policy, just as they have to ensure financial stability. Things must be tackled simultaneously and not everything can be resolved through regulation. It is precisely through social pressure that things are evolving... Fortunately, we are moving in the right direction.... thanks to the implication of the people!”
To thank Louis GALLOIS for his enlightening talk, Michel-Edouard LECLERC concluded by saying that “at a time when eviction announcements are being made, when you know that people like Louis exist, you can't help but be optimistic! But nothing is ever certain. As students, you can be such a person yourself or recognise them and support them. Because through their vision, they will always point you in the right direction!”