La Cravate Solidaire: developing a joint initiative for professional integration associations

La Cravate Solidaire and the Societe Generale Foundation have developed a joint initiative to aid the beneficiaries of other associations supported by the foundation.

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Clothes don’t make the man... but they help”: with this new twist on an old expression, the association La Cravate Solidaire was created in 2012, offering business attire for upcoming interviews to those who couldn’t afford it.

While the original idea was sound, it didn’t go far enough to help the association’s beneficiaries. As such, this first step merely opened to door to numerous other complementary initiatives. Attire was important for making a good impression during an interview, but it also instilled job-seekers with self-confidence, an even more crucial factor for achieving their goals.

As such, the association quickly decided to provide them with more support, by offering personal image or HR coaching sessions to teach them all the unwritten rules they’d need to know.

Now active in 12 regions, the association supported 2,300 people with in-person services in 2020 and 500 people with distance services.

The next goal is to help 6,500 people each year starting in 2022.

Given the current environment, we need to respond to pressing social needs

Michaël Cienka, Head of Development at La Cravate Solidaire

A unique partnership with the foundation

The Societe Generale Foundation is a long-time supporter of La Cravate Solidaire, but their partnership has reached a new level these last few months.

We’re moving away from the conventional funding model,” says Michäel Cienka. “Usually what you do is launch the partnership by signing an agreement. Maybe you also do a progress report or a final evaluation, which may lead to a renewal request. But it’s completely different here.”

The idea is to involve the foundation as closely as possible in each stage, turning it from a simple sponsor into a bona fide partner.

The first steps were already taken a few years ago, when Societe Generale organised a donation drive in order to get its employees actively involved in the association. This type of initiative led La Cravate Solidaire to collect two tonnes of clothing from Societe Generale employees during the 2018 Citizen Commitment Time, a major aid event for the group. At the time, this was a record-level of donations for the association. Employees could also stop by afterward to help sort the clothing or offer personal image or HR coaching services for the day.

La Cravate Solidaire

This vision has reached yet another level with the 2021 partnership. This time, instead of supporting a project put forward by the association, the Societe Generale Foundation and La Cravate Solidaire developed a joint initiative that would support the beneficiaries of other partner associations.

The goal for us was to develop networking between partner associations with complementary missions”, explains Aurélie Robin, Head of Corporate Philanthropy at the Societe Generale Foundation.

As a result, some 200 beneficiaries of partner associations, including Les Apprentis d’Auteuil, Kodiko, Arès and Sport dans la Ville, will receive guidance and support from La Cravate Solidaire in Lille, Lyon, Paris, Bordeaux and Nantes.

This arrangement offers a number of advantages, says Michaël Cienka, Head of Development at La Cravate Solidaire:

“This has allowed us to work with associations that we’ve wanted to work with for a very long time. This includes Sport dans la Ville, for which we’re now regularly assisting applicants. Sometimes we do this when the occasion arises, but we’ve also discovered the power of creating special workshops for the beneficiaries of an association. These typically involve groups of four or five young people who know each other well, and who give each other words of encouragement during the workshops. You often hear things like ‘you look very classy’ when they see each other in their suits.”

These comments are obviously very gratifying for these young people, whose group dynamic helps to reinforce the support they receive.

With this initiative, the Societe Generale Foundation is experimenting with a new model, where funding for La Cravate Solidaire also supports other partner associations in the professional integration space.