Sidonie Mérieux is founder and President of HeR value, a corporate governance consulting firm, board member at Olympique Lyonnais and the OL Foundation.
I discovered the Societe Generale Foundation about fifteen years ago, when it sponsored Sport dans la Ville and I was the association’s Director of Partnerships. Societe Generale’s commitment to supporting young people with job placement and job readiness through sport was already there, and it continues to grow today within the framework of the new foundation, just as young people were the first to be impacted by the health crisis. I also find it innovative and appropriate that Societe Generale is combining education projects through sport and music in a single foundation, with the pursuit of excellence as the common denominator. This will make it possible to imagine new bridges between these two topics while raising the profile of the company’s solidarity projects.
Through the prism of my professional experience in the non-profit world and my personal commitments in conjunction with major companies and institutions and in my capacity as a board member of the Societe Generale Foundation, I was able to assess and appreciate the professionalism of its approach. When the corporate sponsor has dedicated teams and is fully aware of the projects it supports and knows how to be rigorous and involved in the process of identifying, selecting and monitoring these projects, it also encourages associations to be more professional. It is a virtuous circle that I have been able to observe closely, from both sides of the patronage relationship. Finally, it is reassuring to know that the money given has been used optimally, often with great successes ‒ I’m thinking, for example, of the Simplon network of digital and inclusive factories, which Societe Generale has been supported from the very start, and which is now widely deployed in France and even internationally.
Another very positive point in my opinion: at Societe Generale, patronage is a real group commitment, embraced not only by the top management and the teams in charge, but also by employees who get invested in solidarity projects. It’s a far cry from merely making a statement and sprinkling some financial resources on top. This kind of commitment is the hallmark of responsible companies. Today, companies are no longer just a place to work. They are also a place for social connection, interaction and sharing: to have the possibility, in this context, to give one’s time for the good common is a real chance for employees, a great gift to give and to be given.
I find it innovative and appropriate that Societe Generale is combining education projects through sport and music in a single foundation, with the pursuit of excellence as the common denominator. This will make it possible to imagine new bridges between these two topics.