The societal role of companies seen by Emmanuel FaberAs part of an unprecedented series of conferences on the Humanities, NEOMA BS welcomed Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, for a privileged exchange on corporate social responsibility.
As part of an unprecedented series of conferences on the Humanities, NEOMA BS welcomed Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, for a privileged exchange on corporate social responsibility.
On the occasion of a cycle of conferences on Humanities organized on the campuses of NEOMA BS Emmanuel FABER spoke in a crowded amphitheater. Danone’s CEO shared with the students of the School his vision of the economy and the social and societal role played by companies.
Questioning the social utility of companies
According to Emmanuel Faber, companies cannot exist without social utility. Pointing to the dehumanisation of the economy, he emphasises a fundamental oversight in today’s world: relationships. Focusing his talk on the impossible split between the transactional economy (which is currently measured by GDP) and the relational economy, the CEO of Danone explains: “In my opinion, companies are all the more solid because they invest in trust and the long-term and establish a relationship with the consumer, unlike a profit-driven and short-term vision.”
He invites the students to consider vernacular societies, one of the few economic organisations that, in his opinion, allows the system to be seen in a new light. In response to a question raised by the two students leading the round table discussion, Michel-Edouard Leclerc questioned Emmanuel Faber on the semantics of management discourse.
“When a company manager buys machinery, we talk of an investment. On the other hand, when the same person hires a new employee, it becomes a cost… How do you interpret such use of language?” Targeting the absurdity of certain financial rhetoric, Emmanuel Faber underlines the need for a return to putting people first.
A matter of Humanity
Having contact with a large number of economic partners, Emmanuel Faber explains the importance of interpersonal relationships and the importance of putting people first. “A company does not sink because it has no more funds, but because it has no more ideas. It is an absurdity of the system to consider people as a cost. Technology must serve, not replace the workforce.” To the question of going back to putting people first, Emmanuel Faber believes that this can only be achieved through values. “Mine is the following: only people are truly sustainable. It’s not easy, but it’s a gamble I’m taking. And I am confident that we will all benefit.”
In conclusion, Emmanuel Faber encouraged the students with some sound advice that would also be taken on board by all those present: “You are in an incredible school, and this will give you the opportunity to take on responsibilities. But what will you do once you are in that position? You will have to fight against power, money, glory. Otherwise you’ll miss out on your life. What makes you unique in this world? Are you convinced of this? Are you aware of this? This is what will give meaning to your actions. This is a personal question and no one can answer it for you.”