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SSE professions and career paths: Defending values through the company

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Today, we meet Maria, Director of Carrefour's Fundación Solidaridad in Spain, and Victor, a student at the Paris Dauphine University.

Originally an independent lawyer, Maria took over management of the Fundación Solidaridad at Carrefour Spain in 2006. Driven by a profound need to bring about social justice which was actually behind this change in career, Maria has no notion of time as she strives – day in, day out – to assert her social commitment through her job.

Victor is a student at the Paris Dauphine University. His commitment to volunteer work was a key factor in helping him decide what to study, so he can work later on in the solidarity sector.

 

Maria, Director of Carrefour's Fundación Solidaridad in Spain: “Investing the world of business with human values”

 

Maria has always been driven by the quest for social justice and trained as a lawyer. "It's my profession as well as being a vocation – I believe in everybody's right to equal opportunities". Having worked as an independent lawyer for several years, she joined Carrefour in 2003. As well as justice, Maria believes in "the principle of co-responsibility" and in the need to “invest the world of business with human values”. It was this vocation that led her "quite naturally" to take over as head of the Fundación Solidaridad Carrefour in 2006, a role of which she is "infinitely proud".

 

Created in 2001, this Foundation is based on the very same principle of co-responsibility that drives Maria. "In 15 years, it has earned itself a solid reputation in the country's general interest sector and is a reason for our 49,000 employees to feel proud". Maria works on providing support for children suffering from disabilities or threatened with social exclusion, as well as helping vulnerable people and providing assistance in emergencies. She also promotes employment for the disabled and gets Carrefour Spain employees actively involved. "Last year, we provided 90,000 people with support and gave them 8 million kg of donated products". 

 

Behind these figures, Maria and her teams engage in "fluid dialogue and ensure constant communication with numerous local and national organisations". But the Foundation's work is not exclusively focused outside the group. "We work hand-in-hand with our human resources department on helping to integrate employees with disabilities". For example, 77 hypermarkets in Spain can now be used by people who are hard-of-hearing and who use sign language. The Foundation is not limited by store boundaries and supports the "Coco Signa" learning application.

 

TESTIMONY
"Keeping our social commitment aligned with the needs of our society is one of my greatest obligations"

Maria does not look at the clock while she's busy with these tasks: "it's a major responsibility and an even bigger privilege, professionally speaking". Working with local departments and with the group's departments is key to her efficacy. "Keeping our social commitment aligned with the needs of our society is one of my greatest obligations". 

That's easy to say, but on a day-to-day basis, it involves Maria coordinating all of the programmes that the Fundación Solidaridad Carrefour runs. "Every day, we focus on stepping up our social commitment, both within the company and beyond it". Standing by this motto involves promoting a culture of inclusion across the whole company and "sharing our assets and resources with society as a whole in order to improve quality-of-life for vulnerable people". In 2016, Carrefour's Fundación Solidaridad helped more than 18,000 children.

 

Maria sees her job as an extension of her vocation and her thirst for social justice, "like a marvellous gift for which I never cease to be grateful". "It is because we make progress without leaving anybody behind the we can talk of a genuinely inclusive and fair society". Maria sees companies in general – and hers in particular – as being at the forefront of her quest for a better society. "Companies are major drivers of change: they can mobilise energy to help society's most vulnerable people". For her, socially responsible companies "are first and foremost companies which are socially intelligent".

 

Victor, student: seeing a profession as a "life choice".

 

The very basis of the university course that Victor enrolled on is a belief. A belief that “responsible jobs are not just a necessity, but a major opportunity from a social, economic and environmental point of view”. This belief was fed by the volunteer work that he did in the years after he left school and then when he began studying at the St-Quentin-en-Yvelines University. So, he set up an organisation to support students experiencing difficulties, an organisation run "by students and for students". After his first degree, Victor went on to study international economics and development projects. It was this desire to engage with the world around him that led him to undertake an initial internship in Nepal in the summer of 2016 and then prepared him to head to Rio de Janeiro in February 2018 to study issues of responsibilities and dynamics in developing countries.

 

Victor's desire to have a job in the solidarity sector means that he "feels similar to Maria. Even if she was a lawyer to start off with and I am an economist, we have the same views on mutual help, social justice and creating a better society". He sees this type of profession as a "life choice". "When you have a job like Maria's, you enjoy your work and you don't look at the clock. In my opinion, that's how it differs from a more "routine" job. And – keen to meet her – Victor praises "the importance of dialogue with stakeholders" in particular – an important area to focus on in bringing about social justice and solidarity.

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