November 28, 2021

How La Poste defined its mission, between heritage and ambition

Posted on Nov 17, 2021 9:11 AM

Muriel Barnéoud remembers it as if it were yesterday. In the fall of 2020, a few months after the publication of the implementing decree relating to mission companies, the director of societal commitment of La Poste learned that Philippe Wahl, the CEO, had decided to go there. “When he told me about his decision to make the group a mission-driven company, I wasn’t expecting it,” she says, nevertheless agreeing that warning signs made the public company an ideal candidate. to this new status.

“La Poste became, in 2010, a public limited company, including in its statutes its public service mission”, recalls Muriel Barnéoud. This first step triggered a reflection on companies with a public service mission, the object of a small academic corpus. “No study focused on companies with a public service mission. She then accepts Mines ParisTech’s proposal to devote a thesis to the identity of the public service company through the prism of the mission company.

Convince stakeholders

This work brings to light areas undergoing profound change, in which public service missions are no longer sufficient to meet all of society’s expectations. “For example, the distribution of the press, or mission to disseminate democratic thought and raise awareness, could seem outdated at a time when paper is no longer the only means of circulating information”, illustrates she does. Hence the group’s decision to choose for purpose support for societal transitions, this in the demographic, territorial, digital and ecological fields.

“The status of mission company appeared to be the ideal framework to define the commitments and missions that La Poste undertook to carry towards the company”, summarizes Muriel Barnéoud, also seeing in this provision of the Pacte law a vector for “Promote the actions of the group and become more open to the general interest”.

Once this objective was presented by Philippe Wahl to the executive committee and the general assembly, a strategic step began “consisting in convincing all the stakeholders, a very large panel of actors. Muriel Barnéoud lists the two shareholders (the State and the Caisse des Dépôts), customers (individuals and companies), local authorities or even consumer associations, not to mention the 249,000 employees, including 225,000 in France.

At the time, the group had just launched a massive consultation with a view to putting its strategic plan “La Poste 2030, engaged for you” on track. An approach that has made it possible to collect 135,000 contributions from employees, 5,000 from external actors, in other words “a formidable vehicle for questioning the ecosystem on the subject of the company with a mission and nurturing the development of the raison d’être” , notes Muriel Barnéoud.

Result: no gap appears between the feedback from this consultation and the four pillars (demographic, territorial, digital and ecological) identified by La Poste. Enough to make Muriel Barnéoud say that there was “an alignment of the planets”.

All the stakeholders of the company whose employees have been involved in defining the mission of the La Poste group.Fatima JELLAOUI

Creation of a mission committee

Benoît Huc is the sales and marketing director of Colissimo. It underlines the desire of some 70,000 client companies of this parcel delivery service to also embark on the path of a more sustainable future. “A group like La Poste is therefore expected to play a role, especially as we are linked in the business: the image we carry serves the image of our customers”, he explains. .

The fact remains that, “to be part of time, governance is the major element”, continues Muriel Barnéoud. Thus, a mission committee was set up. Composed of representatives of shareholders, employees, local authorities and consumer associations, this entity, independent of the board of directors, also includes personalities from civil society, businesses and research, including the geographer Jacques Lévy, economist Claudia Senik and co-president of La Redoute Nathalie Balla.

Or Marie Trellu-Kane, president of Unis-Cité, also member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Committee… “We bring our perspective to the objectives that La Poste sets itself to meet the social aspect of its raison d’être, and on the indicators chosen to monitor the achievement of these objectives: we bring our experience and our external perspective, and we ensure that the company advances in the direction of its social and environmental mission, ”explains Marie Trellu-Kane.

A long way

While four meetings of the mission committee have already taken place, Muriel Barnéoud specifies that “the one-to-one meetings are also numerous”. Conceding to navigate in “terra incognita”, she also insists on the fact that “the mission committee is not a strategic committee, but a body where the stake is to make free speech and reflection, with a prism which gives a good vision, while reinforcing the commitments in the business ”.

Thus, La Banque Postale has just announced that it is giving up financing fossil fuels, and the group is investing heavily in the field of artificial intelligence, with regard to an ethical charter on the use of this technology. So many changes that “arouse, on the part of customers, interest, curiosity and the desire for feedback,” says Benoît Huc, who spoke with groups such as Nestlé, Galeries Lafayette, Yves Rocher and even Maif, “with whom we inspire each other. “

In terms of management tools, performance indicators and impact indicators (CO emissions2, financing of local authorities, etc.) are scrutinized together, “always with a view to ensuring that we meet our societal commitments”, underlines Muriel Barnéoud. And the director of the societal commitment of La Poste to conclude that “it is a long road ahead”.