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Aside from the Critical Friends committee, how does Veolia make space for its stakeholders when drawing up its strategy?

Talking with our stakeholders, involving them in understanding, identifying and answering issues relating to sustainability helps us to improve as a business. This contributes to building long-term relationships, opens up spaces for discussion and challenges us to do better.

Veolia is in regular contact with nonprofits, trade organizations, international bodies, universities, trades unions, etc., via a range of thinktanks and conferences focused on key strategic issues such as climate, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the circular economy, biodiversity and so on.

Veolia’s Executive Committee has been able to draw on the expertise of a committee of stakeholders, known as the Critical Friends, since 2013. Drawn from the nonprofit, institutional and academic worlds they give the company the benefit of their vision and constructive criticism on a number of topics directly related to Veolia’s strategy. The Critical Friends have already looked into Veolia’s climate responsibility, its contribution to the SDGs, its responsibilities as a contractor to industrial companies, its opening up to the market for better air quality, and how to define its purpose. In 2019, the committee of Critical Friends expanded to welcome representatives from the wider family of Veolia’s stakeholders (clients, suppliers, staff, nonprofit partners and members of the younger generations). This was part of a drive to give the company’s executive team feedback on how effectively it is delivering on the company’s purpose.
Similar committees have been set up by Veolia in Germany and China since 2015. The aim is to advise and challenge local management on the overall orientation of our business.

Stakeholders are also involved in our corporate governance as members of the Board of Directors. Two staff representatives have been board members since October 2014.

Veolia is convinced that listening, collaborating and sharing ideas within the company are keys to growth and long-lasting success. From May to September 2018, 900 managers from all business lines and areas of the world were asked for their contributions to setting out our next strategic step. This was part of Inspire, an expansive online program for collective consultation and reflection. Over 1,600 submissions were made, discussed and examined in greater detail. These contributions provided us with key insights about our identity and future activities. A second consultation campaign about key areas of the strategic plan under construction was held at the start of 2019. This targeted everybody who works for Veolia and it ran on a Google+ platform.

By collaborating with innovative startups and SMEs across Europe, we hope to be in a position to better spot positive contributions from the wider world, asking ourselves new questions and learning how to better align with the needs and expectations of the people we interact with and serve. December 2018’s Innovation Day was a chance for Veolia to welcome 14 European startups and SMEs to our head office for a series of pitching and networking sessions. Presenting to an audience of around 100 members of staff, the entrepreneurs outlined their solutions for transforming how we operate.