Can becoming a “company with a mission” save Orpea?

This Wednesday, March 23, the government should present the report produced by the General Inspectorate of Finance and that of Social Affairs (IGF and Igas) on the operation of the group of retirement homes for dependent elderly people Orpea. Their mission has “raised serious facts”announced the office of the Minister for Autonomy Brigitte Bourguignon on March 15, preferring to give Orpea time to respond to these accusations, before considering “jurisdictional, financial or administrative consequences”.

Monday, March 21, The world unveiled the outline of the report produced before this contradictory phase. According to the daily, “confirms the savings made by the group thanks to public money and hypercentralized operation at the expense of the quality of care for residents”denounced in Victor Castanet’s book “Les Fossoyeurs”, published in mid-January.

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A popular status among Ehpad groups

Orpea, which for its part launched “two in-depth external evaluation missions” whose results he awaits in April, is preparing his response. It will probably result in a change of status. “Orpea has been working for several months on its raison d’être and is studying the possibility of becoming a “mission-based company”. Its CSR and innovation study committee is currently studying the issues and associated transformation methods.confided in early March a source close to the company to Ouest-France.

A suprise ? Not really. Colisée, like Vivalto Santé, two of its competitors in the care of dependency, have adopted this status of “company with a mission” for several months already. Pressure has increased in recent weeks, with some of Orpea’s shareholder funds demanding it, while its main rival in nursing homes, the Korian group, announced on February 23, 2022 that it wanted to adopt this status in June 2023.

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Why ? Because it seems to them an excellent way to reassure residents and their families, public authorities… as well as investors, in particular those called “institutional” for whom environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria are increasingly important. important.

Read also : Why does the nursing home giant Korian want to become a “mission-based company”?

600 companies with a mission in France

Because becoming a “company with a mission” implies going further than declaring a purpose, which Korian did in 2021 by promising to take care of the most vulnerable people. This means writing in black and white, in its statutes, the “missions” that the company wishes to carry out, taking into account the social, societal and environmental impacts of its activities. Since the Pacte law made it possible in 2019, 600 French companies have made this choice: Camif, Yves Rocher, Banque Postale, Le Slip français, Léa Nature and also Danone.

Does this signify a radical transformation of the company? It all depends on its size… and the missions it has set itself. Its commitments must be evaluated by a “mission committee” (compulsory only for large groups, and composed mainly of external personalities) and by an “independent third party body”. A commercial court can in principle withdraw this status if it does not respect them. Adopting this status nevertheless pushed some, like the recruitment firm Birdeo, to draw a line under activities that it did not consider up to par.

The Danone case

Still, the first Cac 40 company to become a “mission-based company” in June 2020, Danone, has since surprised… and not necessarily in a good way. It was committed, through the voice of its CEO Emmanuel Faber, to “improving health, preserving the planet and promoting social inclusion”. But it also announced a restructuring with numerous job cuts around the world… then ousted its leader in 2021, under pressure from certain shareholders deeming the agrifood giant not profitable enough. Finally, Danone announced in early March 2022 to continue its activities in Russia, where it generates 5% of its revenue and employs 8,000 people. Even if it temporarily suspends its investments there, in accordance with the sanctions decreed by France.

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What does the Danone mission committee think of this situation? He is due to report next month. However, during the first, published in April 2021, 4 of the 10 members – appointed nine months earlier – were already no longer in the game. Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which represents 200 million workers in 163 countries, had preferred to throw in the towel a month earlier.

Put “caring” at the heart

Mission-based companies are 80% made up of fewer than 50 employees, recalls Anne Mollet, general manager of the Community of Mission-based Companies, an association of general interest which accompanies them. “Managers get started because we realize that things have to be rebalanced between the search for financial performance and the social and environmental commitment of the company: one no longer goes without the other”. She believes that you have to trust a company from the moment it gives itself the time to develop its mission and prepare to transform itself: adopt this status in less than six months, ” this is not serious “. « The bigger the company, the more complex the shareholding and the more difficult it is to get all the employees on board, so the longer it takes”she explains.

The current interest of Ehpad groups for this status does not surprise Anne Mollet, even if it comes from a crisis. “A company chooses – according to its history, its sector of activity – its vision: to define the impact and the place it must play in the world. An nursing home that would not put “taking care” at the heart of its mission, with objectives, traced indicators, that would not be credible”she believes. “It can lead to cleaning up, giving up certain activities and changing certain practices, embarking on a path of progress year after year. » Provided that we do not push for the obligation to become a “company with a mission” in a given sector of activity. “This must remain a voluntary approach that does not call for financial or tax advantages”insists Anne Mollet.

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