This past April, the Deauville Green Awards became the first ever international festival for corporate films on ecology and sustainable development. The event attracted 150 video entries in nine categories and brought together audiovisual and communications professionals, business representatives and environmental organizations from around the world. The objective: to foster dialogue while recognizing the best and most innovative use of video in promoting corporate social responsibility. Event organizers turned to ESSEC’s Anne Jeny-Cazavan to add academically founded expertise to the debate.
“I was first approached because of my expertise in media industry specialization and intangible assets including corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which fit well with the objectives of the event,” explains Anne Jeny-Cazavan. “Beyond this, ESSEC was an ideal resource for the organizers given our faculty’s proven CSR expertise; an expertise that isn’t embodied by one department or individual, but championed by many of professors each with his or her own approach.”
As one of ESSEC’s core values, CSR is something that all departments hold dear and explore from their particular point of view. Trans-disciplinary analysis and dialogue is then supported in particular by the Leadership and Diversity, Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship Research Chairs, and through initiative like ESSEC’s International Workshop on the Role of Business in Society and the Pursuit of the Common Good and the ESSEC Research Centre for Capitalism, Globalization and Governance. In this perspective, the Deauville Green Awards offered another venue through which to share ideas and create inter-disciplinary dialogue on these issues which are so important to ESSEC as an institution.
“I immediately felt that it was important for ESSEC to be a part of this event first and foremost because of its clear link with ESSEC’s core values. [...] We are very proud of our commitment to social responsibility, sustainability and diversity and this event offered a perfect way to bring this forward,” explains Prof. Jeny-Cazavan. “I also felt strongly that ESSEC should be a part of this event from the beginning, in keeping with ESSEC’s commitment to innovation and breaking new ground. ESSEC is a pioneer in so many ways, as is this event which is the first of its kind.”
The event took a global approach to CSR, focusing not only on the ecological but also looking into the societal responsibilities of businesses and organizations. “I really liked the fact that this event challenged companies to become active participants of sustainable development,” adds Prof. Jeny-Cazavan. “In this perspective, my role was to gather ESSEC’s varied expertise in CSR so as to provide attendees with relevant and constructive information.”
Prof. Jeny-Cazavan called on fellow ESSEC professors Viviane de Beaufort and Charles Cho to lend their academic insight to a roundtable discussion entitled Governance, CSR, diversity: what are the challenges facing corporations?
“Viviane de Beaufort offered her unique insight on questions of governance, diversity and the role of women in corporate structures - areas of research and innovation where ESSEC has excelled,” explains Prof. Jeny-Cazavan. Indeed, Prof. de Beaufort has set herself apart as a champion of corporate diversity, launching in 2010 for example the ESSEC Executive Education programWomen be European Board Ready. “To Viviane’s internal approach, Charles Cho’s expertise offered an interesting juxtaposition,” she adds, “as his research explores social and environmental accounting and reporting toward external audiences and stakeholders.”
To add a corporate perspective to the roundtable, Prof. Jeny-Cazavan also invited Genevieve Ferone, Director of sustainable development for Veolia Entertainment, to participate in the discussion. “Genevieve’s background in CSR rating - she funded the first French rating agency on CSR - also helped create an all-in-all coherent roundtable.”
The launch of the Deauville Green Awards is timely in that most business and organizations today are reflecting on their societal impact, many are launching CSR initiatives and are therefore faced with the challenge of communicating and making these initiatives known. As Prof. Jeny-Cazavan explains, “although intangible, CSR initiatives can have concrete value for businesses, like the value of brand and image. Herein lies the challenge for corporate communications teams: to create the real financial value that will ultimately appear on account statements by generating awareness.”
As a member of the Intangible Observatory and participant in the working group “From CSR to Liquid Assets, Financial Reporting and Integrated Reports,” Anne Jeny-Cazavan has honed a pointed expertise in this area. “Creating value from intangible assets is particularly interesting when talking about media,” she adds. “This is a sector where the only value is intangible. We’re talking about copyrights, broadcast rights and communication. There is a lot for us to take away from the discussions generated at the Deauville Green Awards.”