Best Practices in Stakeholders Engagement: How Orange Dialogues With Sustainability Bloggers
Last week, I have been invited to a private diner and workshop with the CSR team of Orange, along with tens of other French Sustainability bloggers. It was an incredible opportunity for me to assist to a Stakeholder Engagement event from the inside, discover Orange’s sustainability strategy, and meet fellow bloggers that I mostly exchange with on Twitter. Let me guide you through my first “Stakeholder Engagement” workshop!
About 30-40 CSR bloggers, including myself and some others that you may know such as Julien Goy, Christophe Clouzeau or Florence Rollin, were invited for a private workshop in a bar in Paris, not far from the Moulin Rouge. Most of us knew each other as the parisian Sustainability circle is not that wide, but we took the first few minutes to network with the couple of people we had not met yet.
The CSR Manager of Orange, Brigitte Dumont, took the floor to lay down the workshop session’s agenda: 5 roundtables had been set up based on 5 key material aspects of Orange, and we were to select 3 of them in which we would participate. The 5 roundtables would cover the following aspects:
- Table 1: Freedom of Speech & Respect of Privacy
- Table 2: Digital Technologies & Environment: Impacts and Solutions
- Table 3: Mobiles Recycling: An Example of Circular Economy
- Table 4: CSR, an Obligation or Innovation Opportunity for Big Companies?
- Table 5: Social Entrepreneurship & Digital Inclusion
We would spend 30 minutes per roundtable, discussing with other Sustainability bloggers about the 3 key material aspects of our choice. In each roundtable, a Sustainability team-member of Orange would be moderating the debate, along with another expert of the topic (partner, academic etc…). We would be allowed to ask any question we wanted to Orange… including the ones that don’t get asked so often.
I therefore chose the roundtables 2, 3 and 5 and spent 1 hour and a half discussing with the Orange experts about their CSR strategy, and asking insidious questions about the waves of mobile phones and their impacts on public health, the difficulties when trying to recycle one’s mobile phone, and why I never succeed in having customer relations on line (no, just kidding!).
I cannot summarize a whole night debate in just a blog post, but here are the 4 main projects I learned about during the evening, and that I had no idea of:
- Most of the data centers of Orange have been optimized to reduce energy consumption, and 2500 of these are 100% powered by renewable energy.
- Orange is the only mobile retailer in France to have implemented an environmental labelling in their stores. Unfortunately, they told us very few customers were really taking environmental impacts in consideration when buying a new phone.
- Orange has been collecting old mobile phones since 2006, and implemented a partnership with the recycling association “Ateliers du Bocage“. They now have 2000 different collecting spots. They also launched a small recycling network in Africa which currently hires 30 people.
- Orange has a partnership with Simplon.co, a great association which teaches struggling young people from disadvantaged areas how to code. I saw one of their founders in the last TEDxParis and it was truly amazing. You can watch the video here.
So what was the main conclusion for me? First of all, that this Stakeholder Engagement workshop was SMART for the following reasons:
- Honest Feedback: By presenting their CSR projects to a group of people and letting them ask any questions they want, Orange received plenty of feedback from Sustainability experts (who are also citizens and consumers). Some of us raised concerns about several issues that Orange had not identified as that important for their stakeholders, and we gave them innovative ideas about how to face those issues. The fact that all the attendees were “green” people was a benefit, as we had a better knowledge of Sustainability issues than the average consumer, and we asked very precise and relevant questions (at least I hope so!). Of course, this won’t prevent Orange from getting other feedback from global consumers.
– Receptive Audience: Again, as most of us were Sustainability professionals, we knew CSR from the inside and were aware of the difficulties of implementing certain projects into corporate culture. We knew that changing a company that big for the better is not an overnight job and therefore I tend to believe we were more receptive to their work than the average audience.
– Challenges Brainstorming: Of course, one of the objectives of Orange was to present their CSR results and sing their own praise, but it was also to present their challenges in full transparency. When Denis Guibard – Sustainability Director of Orange Products & Services – told me they’d love going further in environmental labelling, but that they hardly sold any mobile phones based on their environmental footprints only since “consumers don’t care”, I saw there a great challenge to solve! One that I have heard from several Sustainability Managers of different companies and industries. How we can translate “Consumers don’t care” to “Consumers do care” is a challenge we brainstormed about and which definitely needed inputs from the outside.
– Press Relations: Finally, one of the smarter arguments for me in this type of event, is that it features not only Sustainability professionals, but also Sustainability bloggers. Guess what bloggers do? They write! Wouldn’t it be awesome if key Sustainability bloggers in Paris were writing about all the great work that Orange has been doing in the green business? And I guess it worked as I’m writing about it to you today Some of my fellow attendees already published articles on the workshop also, such as Florence Rollin & Julien Goy.
And you, what question would you have asked Orange if you had been in my shoes?
PS: If you’re looking to organizing Stakeholder Engagement Workshops like this one for your own brand, you should definitely get in touch with Pierre-Yves Sanchis, from Comeen. He’s doing such a great job at advising companies about Stakeholder Engagement & Digital CSR Communications that I couldn’t finish this article without mentioning his name. Thanks again Pierre-Yves!