By uniting its solidarity and music sponsorship programmes within a single corporate foundation, the Societe Generale The Future is You Foundation, the Group is laying claim to a prominent position in terms of supporting musical, social and educational projects, with a renewed focus on helping young people. A major commitment that has its roots in the early 20th century and which reflects the leading role the Bank always intends to play in helping younger generations meet the challenges of our time.
In the early 20th century, in keeping with the reformist current that was prominent in France’s Belle Époque era, Societe Generale was already following a proactive policy in this respect, open to social advances and mutual well-being. It strove to collect special funds to help the needy and foster their professional insertion. Himself from a family of modest means and having begun his career as a porter and courier, Chief Executive Officer Louis Dorizon provided the impetus by instilling this charitable and participative momentum within the Group’s teams. Under the auspices of his sports association and his philharmonic orchestra, events bringing staff and customers together were organised to raise funds aimed at fighting inequality. July 1909 saw the birth within the Company of “La Solidarité”, a friendly, philanthropic and fraternal association whose aim was to contribute to “the flourishing of humanity’s causes”. Indeed, its motto was unambiguous: “One for all, all for one”.
This charitable action rapidly refocused on childhood, education and professional insertion. In 1911, Societe Generale began granting scholarships to children from underprivileged backgrounds. In conjunction with other financial institutions, it provided support to the “Orphelins de la banque et de la bourse” (bank and stock market orphans), a registered public service organisation whose premises were located in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil. Between the two World Wars, it launched donation and subscription campaigns to help widows, orphans and victims of natural disasters and accidents. With the same strength of conviction, it provided assistance to hospices and public healthcare facilities, notably the Paris Saint-Joseph hospital, to help people with disabilities.
As well as its charitable and civic work, Societe Generale set an example within its own teams by promoting the principle of equal opportunities. In 1934, it created a school for porters to provide these young assistants – often from families from poor neighbourhoods having received only basic education – with the means to develop their skills, facilitate their mobility and more easily move up the corporate ladder.
In recent decades, keeping pace with social and technological improvements, the Bank has intensified its commitment to serving young people. An important step was taken in 1987 with the creation of the “Association Mécénat Musical Société Générale”, an independent body intended to support the development of classical music in France. From its inception, the association has built partnerships with the National Conservatories in Paris and Lyon to help young musicians through a scholarship program to facilitate their professional integration.
In more than thirty years of existence, many projects have completed this commitment resolutely turned towards the young generation, such as the provision of an instrumental park or support for many projects: the French Youth Orchestra, Pro Quartet, Equilibrium, etc. The Association's other mission - to open up classical music to young people - has intensified since 2010. The Association has become an essential patron in France by supporting educational and artistic projects such as DEMOS, the “Orchestre à l’école” or even the “Maîtrise populaire”.
In 2006, Societe Generale amplified its commitment and created the Foundation for Solidarity. Building on its expertise, its reputation and its networks on the ground, it has helped young people enter the job market by supporting partner charity associations that are fighting illiteracy, exclusion and academic failure. More than ever, it has relied on the direct involvement of its members of staff, notably through the sponsorship of skills or strong moments of solidarity such as the challenge “Move For Youth”, deployed in some fifty countries in September 2021, notably in Africa.
So many initiatives now supported by the Societe Generale Foundation It is you the future which, through its dual expertise “Music” and “Solidarity”, strengthens its action to help young people to reveal their potential and build their future.
Farid AMEUR, Societe Generale Historian