REDEFINING OUR CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY
TO AMPLIFY ITS IMPACT

 

Over the past few decades, corporate giving in France has surged. This philanthropy has gradually come to be conducted on a more formal, professional basis, and as a result is now more effective and acknowledged more widely both in the larger community and within the companies themselves. But it has not yet succeeded in bringing its full weight to bear on shaping and fostering social change.

 

The times call for action on a new scale. Given the crises facing France and many countries worldwide, at a time when governments have fewer resources than in the past, communities have higher expectations of business than ever before. The business world, in turn, has never been so acutely conscious of its role, as a member of the community, in finding effective, lasting solutions to the problems confronting our society.

 

But companies also know they cannot act alone. They are well aware — and this is especially true at Total, where innovation has always been vital to our business — that ingenuity arises from a combination of vision and know-how.

 

The urgency of the social and environmental challenges we face demands that we stop thinking of philanthropy as just a unilateral financial gift, and that we consider it instead a form of mutual enrichment, in which both benefactor and beneficiary have something to offer. And as a collaborative effort, in which we act with instead of for, because only then can we forge new models of solidarity that can make a real contribution to changing the world.

At Total, We Are Ready to Embrace This New Paradigm

 

We have taken the full measure of our corporate social responsibility by stating our ambition of becoming the responsible energy major, and by creating a Civil Society Engagement Division designed to expand the reach of our CSR initiatives through a proactive community commitment in each of our host regions.

 

At a time when borders are blurring, NGOs are concerned about their effectiveness and financial independence and engaged social entrepreneurship is flourishing, we are convinced that these wide-ranging initiatives need to be considered in harmony; that our business activities can be enriched by our community initiatives, and vice versa; and that we can pool our methods, our organizations, our know-how and our teams.

 

Total is a powerful company, operating in 130 countries worldwide. By expanding our action beyond simple monetary donations and by making wise use of our tangible and intangible resources and our regional presence, we will inevitably enhance our effectiveness through actions that are meaningful for both our operations and the local environment. Sometimes it doesn’t take much, just a single hand extended beyond our walls, to provide concrete solutions to the problems facing our stakeholders.

 

New Forms of Support, and New Forms of Collaboration As Well

 

In recent years, we have learned a great deal from the citizenship initiatives deployed in our host communities. Thanks to SRM+, our tool for monitoring stakeholder concerns, we can gain a better grasp of the community’s expectations so as to build constructive relationships based on dialogue.

 

On the strength of that experience, we have learned how to work more effectively with local leaders and collaborate in developing innovative programs. One example is the Refugeeks pilot project, created jointly with the social business Simplon.co, the NGO Singa France and the Accenture Foundation to train refugees to become web developers.

 

We know how to work hand in hand with governments. As proof, consider our investment in the Fonds d’Expérimentation pour la Jeunesse (FEJ) youth development fund and in La France s’engage [France Commits], a campaign by the French government that promotes innovative initiatives in multiple fields, including culture, education, community support and the environment.

 

Moreover, we actively join forces with other businesses to amplify our voice among our stakeholders and take our actions a step further. The Alliance pour l’Éducation [Alliance for Education], an unprecedented instance of collective philanthropy to prevent school dropouts, offers an excellent example of the powerful impact and innovation we can harness simply by pooling our strengths.

 

One innovative campaign illustrates these new forms of philanthropy: our commitment to the Social & Business Action Tank, which brings together businesses, government agencies, universities and NGOs to sponsor economically viable projects that yield concrete progress in reducing poverty and exclusion.

 

Now that we have launched this virtuous cycle of innovation in citizenship initiatives, the possibilities available to us have never been so vast. Our task is to continue this quest, as the energy pioneers we are.