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  • Christine Monfort

CSR: Commitment of Subcontractors

The players in the outsourced customer relationship are striving to make their activity and that of the brands they represent more sustainable and responsible. Reviewing the CSR action plans and commitments of subcontractors and the sector, at the crossroads of environmental and social issues.

Not a day goes by without issues related to corporate social responsibility (CSR), or "ESG", if we include a notion of governance and evaluation of actions and commitments, being in the news. Subcontractors respond to this in more than one sense: as companies with their own objectives, integrating the expectations of end-consumers and investors, but also as activators and catalysts of the policy of their buying customers. All tenders already include CSR criteria...

"These issues can be seen as very restrictive or as an opportunity, a source of economic benefit and a great advantage on the multicultural and inclusion side, says Patrice Mazoyer, president of Comdata France. The group now has a progress plan and a CSR strategy because it is the right way to do business. "

According to Jérôme Duron, Majorel's Development Director, "we need to move from a vision where CSR represents the footprint that our activity leaves in its wake to a CSR that is naturally integrated into everything we do."

The outsourced customer relationship specialists must comply with the general measures , with the aspects specific to outsourcing (in particular in Cold Calling) and with those of the sectors they represent. "In the face of this plethora of regulations, Armatis is positioning itself as an advisory provider for our customers and partners. It is also the way to engage customers in virtuous practices and to show that, in constrained economic models, any cost reduction impacts on the quality of service and on employees' working conditions," adds Tiphaine Trouessard, group CSR and compliance manager.

Towards a low-carbon customer relationship

With climate change, environmental objectives have become paramount for employers and employees. As a member of the United Nations Global Compact programme for a more sustainable society since 2007, Armatis celebrates the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) every year. In 2022, all employees have chosen a climate-related SDG. At the Rateigny site in Touraine, for example, they came together to participate in a workshop on the Fresque du climat. In November 2022, Webhelp's Executive Committee was trained on the causes and consequences of climate change by Project Shift and will gradually extend the focus to the Top 2000 and more involved functions. Comdata has initiated a C3 programme for "Comdata Climate Change" and has conducted a "Scope 3" carbon assessment across all its sites within six months (including indirect greenhouse gas emissions, editor's note).

As subcontractors fall within the scope of the principals' Scope 3 carbon targets, expectations tend to be refined. "Over the past few months, some customers have asked to switch to monthly impact measurement. At our UK sites, mini-sensors placed in different locations measure electricity and water consumed. This requires a lot of effort to set up, but it allows us to move towards 'change management'," says Hanae Chino, group ESG strategy manager at Webhelp.

Majorel, which has implemented a zero carbon strategy for 2030, monitors energy consumption "in product service watts", regardless of where the service is provided. Nine of Armatis' eleven French sites have already met the 2030 tertiary decree targets for energy savings in buildings: "An automatic computer shutdown system has been installed between 10pm and 4am. Some of the servers have also been virtualised in Tunisia in order to group them with other companies and prevent them from running at half capacity," explains Tiphaine Trouessard.

Self-consumption of solar energy could be a solution for this electricity-intensive sector, but since most of the subcontractors are tenants of their operational sites, the installation of solar panels requires lengthy discussions with the owners... "In the countries where we operate, there is not always a sorting or recycling channel. When there is no take-back solution, we have to incentivise or create the sector, which works but takes more time," stresses Yan Leblanc, human resources development and CSR director at Comdata France. Customer advisors also play a key role in passing on information on product lifecycles and recycling solutions, e.g. smartphones, with telecom operators being the main outsourcing customers.

Short, medium, and long-term objectives

In developing its sustainable development strategy, the SP2C has already set three operational objectives:

  • In the short term: to publish a guide of good practices on "sobriety" dedicated to customer relations professionals, which will be updated as the members' knowledge and maturity on this issue increase.

  • In the medium term: to build and monitor a sectoral indicator, similar to the gender equality index that has been set up, so that each company in the sector can challenge itself. It will be published on a joint "Digital Clean" day.

  • In the longer term, the SP2C wishes to join the French Business Pledge Climate, created in 2015 on the eve of COP 21 and supported by the Medef, which marks the voluntary commitment of companies based in France to take concrete action to make a success of the transition to a low carbon economy. The trade union will invite each of its members to publish their plea with their ambitions and their contribution.

Inclusion in all its dimensions

The environment is not the only expression of the CSR policy of outsourcers. In our business, the human element is central," says Jérôme Duron. We engage our employees in a transformation process by capitalising on their skills and then putting them to work for our clients. We accompany them in a process of professionalization that they can use within the group or possibly elsewhere. On Majorel's French-speaking sites, employees have been trained to work in English for certain clients. In sub-Saharan Africa, a school has been set up to develop know-how and interpersonal skills.

The issue of protecting women and our employees has been a major concern for us over the past two years and we continue to address this issue," notes Tiphaine Trouessard. Non-differentiating recruitment is the company value most recognised by our employees. The policy of progressive mobility is progressing. 95% of job offers are open internally and the majority are filled in this area.

"Our new ESG Community is supported by some thirty "champions" of the subject at the global level. They present and share best practices in the various countries and apply them to all sites, adapting actions to needs and contexts," explains Yan Leblanc. In Morocco, the group has invested heavily in a health care centre and launched a campaign to renovate a high school for girls in the north of Marrakech, while in France, work is focused on making the profession more attractive, especially for older employees. In order to make progress on diversity and inclusion, the group conducts an annual survey of all its employees on how they experience these issues, the results of which guide it in its action plans.

At Webhelp, inclusive recruitment already represents more than 10% of hires and the group intends to increase this figure to 15% before stabilizing it over time.'

"It is not yet automatic for all parties and the approach sometimes requires adjustments to the traditional model. But studies conducted in South Africa, for example, show that impact recruitment leads to higher retention and an NPS that is at least equal to or higher than that of traditional recruitment," says Hanae Chino.

Each pool can be worked through this prism: disability and women's inclusion in Turkey, unemployed youth in South Africa, the long-term unemployed in France... For these groups, which operate in employment areas with very different cultures and regulations, certain aspects relating to inclusion are challenges to be taken up, she says: "We now have to talk about LGBTQ+ issues, including in countries that do not always recognise these rights, but where our clients' campaigns are located, and where they themselves take a stand and are committed to consumers and social issues. Gender can be a sensitive issue, but our people need to be able to take it on board."

SP2C: A sustainable development working group and three training courses

To help its members in their efforts to improve their carbon footprint, the SP2C has convened a working group dedicated to sustainable development in the autumn of 2022. A first webinar was offered by Ademe on the theme "What steps to take to build a low carbon strategy? Three training courses will also be dedicated to them:

  • The PROREFEI programme, set up by industry and services for energy consultants, to acquire basic knowledge of energy efficiency, become familiar with energy units and characterise the energy profile of their company.

  • INVEEST, a skills enhancement programme co-constructed with Ademe, which enables financiers to familiarise themselves with the issues, financing and implementation of energy saving and low carbon programmes.

  • The Climate Fresco, so that members can run these workshops internally and raise awareness among a large number of their employees.

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