Pro bono : feedback on the General Inspection pilot

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As part of the solidarity actions it offers to employees, the Societe Generale Foundation has been focusing on skills sponsorship for several years. Each employee of the Group can devote three days a year to an activity of general interest during his working hours. The General Inspection, inspired by the actions put in place by the consultancy firms, asked the Foundation to test a longer pro bono format. A pilot mission was conducted between June and July 2019.

A commitment to working together

The Societe Generale Foundation offers a number of activities for employees to get involved in philanthropy initiatives, from mentoring to spending a day within an organization or part-time contracts for employees close to retirement. However, General Inspection employees wanted to try out a format meeting their specific requirements: allowing inspectors to join other organizations, getting them to work on new problems and developing new skills during assignments lasting several weeks.

“We sometimes need to create meaning and substance in our job”, explains Camille Boespflug, an employee working on this project. “We usually work with Societe Generale group employees, so learning to create ties with external individuals was very important for us.”

Societe Generale employee with the Food de Rue director in their foodstore La Panaméenne

Discovering more about the social and solidarity-based economy

The Societe Generale Foundation and its partner Pro Bono Lab came up with a tailor-made initiative, and the pro bono assignment started at Food de Rue in June 2019. The employment-based integration association was set up five years ago and promotes sustainable food via a store in the 14th arrondissement of Paris whose products are mainly sourced directly from the producers. The association runs an integration workshop solely for women, and supports 12 women struggling to find work, helping them access food-related jobs (restaurants, local shops) and entrepreneurship.

The assignment led by Societe Generale employees had 3 objectives: carrying out a financial and economic analysis of the association, completing a feasibility study on scaling up the initiative, and then working out the best development scenario.

For a month and a half, three inspectors - Camille, Yann and Jérémy - visited the site once a week to gather the information needed for their assignment, but also to write progress reports with Gauthier Hauchart, the association’s director. “Food de Rue has always been a guide because employment-based integration is a very particular sector which has a significant effect on the economic playing field”, he explains. “The association is quite a fast-paced environment, particularly because Gauthier has lots of ideas”, explains Camille Boespflug.

Renewed interest and impact

The assignment is now complete: the deliverables have been handed over and there are just a few discussions left between employees and the association to ensure they have got to grips with the tools provided during the assignment. Each party seems delighted with their experience.

We have a deeper understanding of our organization. We have learned to take a more general view, to discuss and observe others.

Gauthier Hauchart, director, is now more confident about his development projects

For Camille Boespflug and her colleagues, this assignment allowed them to reconsider a volunteering role. “We all had volunteering experience as students, but with work and travel, it was difficult to get back into it”, she admits. “But now, we have all agreed that we could help the association one evening a week, because we can see that an external viewpoint or even just a discussion could help.”