Produrable: for Antoine Frérot a “raison d'être” is a step towards a new vision of business

On the occasion of Produrable, a European meeting of actors and solutions for the sustainable economy held yesterday in Paris, Antoine Frérot - CEO of Veolia and President of the Institut de l’entreprise – talked about what having a “raison d'être” can bring to a business. His contribution was in the framework of a conference alongside Olivia Grégoire, president of the special commission charged with examining the PACTE bill in France’s National Assembly.


A “raison d'être” is a step towards a new vision of the company

The current vision of business dates from 30-40 years ago. It prioritizes the interests of shareholders and seeks to optimize economic performance on the basis of a series of constraints in respect of other stakeholders (customers, suppliers, society, etc.) that are dictated by regulations.


Antoine Frérot, Veolia Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
This vision is less and less sustainable and accepted. In fact, business serves a far wider audience: it is asked today to provide solutions to social inequality, environmental problems, the expectations of younger generations... We need a new paradigm: "It's because businesses can only prosper if they are useful". Businesses must now manage a plural performance in relation to all their stakeholders. Tomorrow the role of an entrepreneur and the board of directors will be to understand the issues and all the expectations in order to find a good compromise.
Antoine Frérot

A “raison d'être” according to Veolia

Veolia will present its “raison d'être” at its Shareholders' Meeting on 18 April. It will specify why the business exists, what it offers and how it does it, to the benefit of its employees, shareholders, customers and the company as a whole.

A series of goals and monitoring indicators will then be established to measure the company’s so-called "plural" performance. The Board of Directors will evaluate the quality of the work of the company on the basis of these indicators, which Veolia will publish.

The Group’s “raison d'être was developed collaboratively in a process involving a large number of stakeholders: the Board of Directors, employees and staff representation bodies, a stakeholders' committee of "critical friends", and customers.

This is not the first time since the industrial revolution that the vision of capitalism has evolved. From one based on assets, we moved to a technico-managerial vision and then to a shareholder vision. A business’ raison d'être is a new stage in its reform.
Antoine Frérot