France wants more "good companies"

France's government is planning to enshrine corporate social and environmental responsibility in the law, following up on an idea that President Macron voiced some time ago. At the time Macron said he wanted to renew the whole concept of what constitutes a company. But can a new law achieve that?

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Libération (FR) /

Fight for more equality starts with words

For Laurent Joffrin, editor-in-chief of Libération, this would be an important first step:

“If the reform passes, of course none of the kings of the [French stock market index] CAC 40 are suddenly going to start distributing their money to the needy, nor will any magnate with a fat cigar start washing the feet of the poor, and none of the billionaires are going to wander the streets, transfigured, crying 'Down with money! Long live sharing!' Nevertheless the reform is important. ... Because this new, more humane, more civic definition of the company will serve as a reference for employees, unions, NGOs and politicians to demand that capital behave in a way that is less harmful to labour and less forgetful of society. Words, words, words? Certainly. But in the fight for more equality, everything starts with words.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Let companies take the initiative

Olivier de Guerre, an expert on economic solidarity, writes in Le Monde that it would be a mistake to force companies to adhere to a new social contract:

“All companies, no matter what kind they are, can contribute to the common good if they invest the necessary resources. And bearing in mind the current challenges, they must be supported in doing so. This can help to shed light on a debate which unfortunately focuses on arguments that have little to do with today's realities and that adopt ambiguous or even contradictory positions. Because nowadays it is indeed difficult for a private company to develop a social and environmental mission without running the risk of seeing some of its shareholders getting upset and challenging it at a shareholders' meeting, or even in court, in the belief that the company's only true 'mission' is to pay dividends to shareholders.”