“The company’s purpose is a strategic lever too often used for marketing purposes”


SAccording to the Observatory of companies with a mission, the milestone of 1,000 companies with a mission was reached at the end of 2022. This status was introduced by the Pacte law (action plan for the growth and transformation of companies) adopted in 2019. The objective of this law is twofold: to remove the obstacles to the growth of companies and to better share the value that they create.

Companies now have the possibility – but not the obligation – to adopt a “raison d’être” and to explain the way in which they intend to contribute positively to society by “integrating the consideration of the social, societal and environmental impacts of their activities”.

This law is part of a context of growing expectations of French people towards companies: an IFOP survey revealed in 2016 that 51% of French people consider that a company must be useful for society as a whole, ahead of its customers (34% ), its employees (12%) or its shareholders (3%). In 2018, again according to the IFOP, 95% of French people expected companies to commit themselves to social issues; 52% consider that they must make a commitment to the environment as a priority.

Uncommon and misused

The “raison d’être” is a long-term project that takes into account social and environmental issues. It must commit the company issuing it to work for the general interest and no longer just for its own financial gain. By reconciling economic objectives and positive impact, it can be a crucial strategic lever. However, because it often involves a redefinition of priorities or even a complete overhaul of strategic positioning, it is still not widespread and above all, misused. It appears as a strategic lever too often used for marketing purposes.

Indeed, not all companies are equal in terms of purpose and few detail the impact they are aiming for: 31 members of the CAC40 have a purpose in their statutes, but only 9 clearly express the impact positive they wish to have and through what activities they intend to achieve it.

Clearly, only a quarter of CAC40 companies have a specific and actionable purpose. Conversely, 25% of CAC40 companies confuse purpose and advertising slogan and empty it of its substance by using terms that call for no concrete action.

Clarify and measure its impact

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