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SSE professions and career paths : Working in order to feel useful to society

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Flavia joined Carrefour more than 30 years ago. For 17 years, she has been a quality manager. As a food engineering specialist and so supposedly a long way from solidarity issues, she is involved in monitoring products and focusing on issues to do with the environment on a day-to-day basis. "Initially, my work involved packaging issues and tackling food wastage. Then four years ago, in addition to these responsibilities, I was appointed head of CSR for Carrefour Italy". Agathe, currently studying for a master's degree in sustainable development at Paris Dauphine University, is looking for meaning in her course and in the various activities in which she engages outside university. She wants a profession that gives more meaning to her work.

 

Flavia, head of CSR at Carrefour Italy: "supporting local project leaders"

Flavia has initiated numerous solidarity projects to do with food and integration. As far as her food-related projects are concerned, a nationwide partnership with the Food Banks has existed for 10 years. "However, being able to coordinate this work is highly dependent on the work that each store does at local level – on collecting and redistributing products with short expiry dates in particular". One example of this coordination out in the field is the Clic Solidaire (Click to Give) campaign during which store employees encourage customers to vote for a local charity that they have selected. In 2016, this campaign raised €200,000, which was shared among 20 charities. Flavia also works with “charity gardens” which use fruit and vegetable farming as a means to help people reintegrate, for example.

Although no one person is employed to work exclusively on solidarity issues at Carrefour Italy, both the company and Flavia are fully committed to it. "Most importantly, we undertake wide-ranging work to put charities in contact with stores at local level". In addition to coordinating this local solidarity network, Carrefour Italy organises nationwide events. One example is the major foodstuff collection campaign which is held on the second weekend of November in all Carrefour Milan stores, as well as its head office. "Sometimes, when employees have just finished their work for the day, I see them taking off their Carrefour jackets and putting on food bank vests, so they can go and help collect products".

 

 

In addition to her pivotal role, Flavia is also the driving force behind a number of other projects. The most recent initiative gave children the opportunity to become fully-fledged "charity superheroes" by getting people to vote for a charity after a visit to a store. At the end of the campaign, Carrefour Italy will give €500,000 to the charities on a pro rata basis, based on the votes they had received. "By asking the public to suggest beneficiary charities, we can unearth smaller-scale partners who, since they are not always identified, do not always have access to financing from large companies". Furthermore, this desire to support local project managers (voters can also suggest local charities themselves) helps ensure a more diverse selection of donation recipients.

TESTIMONY
"Sometimes, when employees have just finished their work for the day, I see them taking off their Carrefour jackets and putting on food bank vests, so they can go and help collect products"

This approach which is open to all types of charity organisation is a means of spreading the company's initiatives beyond the company itself. In Turin, for example, a Carrefour Italy employee has launched a campaign to collect money for a local hospital. Currently, seven of the city's stores are involved. "I don't know of many companies in Italy which provide their employees with opportunities to create such strong ties", concludes Flavia.

 

Agathe, enrolled on a master's degree in sustainable development at Paris Dauphine University: “a job in the solidarity sector”

After a baccalaureate in France’s Savoie region, Agathe started a degree in Management and Applied Economics at Paris Dauphine University. "Signing up for a master’s degree in sustainable development was a relatively obvious choice". Having spent my childhood in the mountains with a family committed to sustainable development, I quickly realised I wanted a job that would "give meaning" to my work." Evidence of her search for meaning and commitment can also be seen in the activities in which Agathe gets involved outside of university. She is a member of the Dauphine sustainable association, as well as the Ethical student committee, and campaigns for environmental issues to be more effectively factored in across the University. "All of this is what moulded my desire to work in sustainable development and naturally guided me to this master's degree, eventually leading to a job in the solidarity sector".

 

The path that Agathe has taken has a great deal in common with Flavia’s, particularly as regards her interest in stakeholders on the periphery of the company. "During one of my internships, I was working for an online clothes-swapping platform for children, and many of the clothes we got could not be sold. They had insignificant defects but were in otherwise good condition. So, I contacted a charity involved in combating social exclusion and together we organised regular donations”. Working in order to feel useful to society therefore functions as a real driver, the aim being to: “open up companies to their environments, get employees involved so that they also give more meaning to their work".

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