As Jacques Attali reminded us, "Building a positive economy means integrating the long term into decision-making processes and involving future generations".
At the same time, it means addressing the social, ecological, and financial challenges facing our societies. How can we ensure that businesses play a full part in this transformation? How can they serve society even more and better? Questions central to the discussion between Jacques Attali and Antoine Frérot.
• Businesses should better reflect society in their decision-making bodie
Businesses are at the centre of an ecosystem of stakeholders - employees, shareholders, customers, representatives of civil society, etc. - whose interests are often divergent. To better understand and take account of individual interests, it is important to encourage their inclusion in companies’ governance bodies.
Antoine Frérot pointed out that he is "in favour of employees, suppliers, lenders, customers and even representatives of the territories having a greater presence on the Board of Directors", considering that this "would promote its proper functioning”.
• Businesses must optimize their social performance in order to endure
The economic value created by a company will only be accepted if, at the same time, it creates social value, for example by engaging in extra-economic issues such as combating poverty, protecting the environment and training young people with no qualifications.
Antoine Frérot emphasized, "The challenge for a company is not only to create wealth but also to share and distribute it."
Non-financial rating agencies have a key role in assessing the overall performance of companies, not only economically but also socially and environmentally. This overall performance makes it possible to measure the service that a company brings to society.
The pursuit of profit is not incompatible with serving society.
"Companies do not have to become "welfare companies", addressing all the shortcomings of governments or public services. However, they cannot fail to be involved in social and societal issues as they are intrinsically actors in society and exist only through that society, "concluded Antoine Frérot.