Chief Impact Officer, Head of Impact… What is this job?

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En mars 2021, le prince Harry a rejoint Better Up, une start-up américaine dans la santé mentale, comme Chief Impact Officer.

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Posted Jan 17, 2022, 11:21 AMUpdated on Jan 17, 2022 at 12:01

In 2021, two spotlights brought the Chief Impact Officer into the spotlight in a rather spectacular way. In March, Prince Harry was recruited with this cap by Better Up, a Californian start-up. In December, it was Kat Borlongan, the former boss of English Tech, who announced that she was taking a similar position at Contentsquare, a English unicorn.

Could Chief Impact Officer (also called Head of Impact, Chief of Impact, etc.) simply be the new name for the CSR (corporate social responsibility) manager in the start-up nation version? “The big difference with traditional CSR professions is that they are now being asked to integrate the impact into the business and the company's strategy”underlines Caroline Renoux, director of Birdeo, a recruitment firm specializing in jobs with a positive impact.

Their mission? First measure the positive and negative impact of the company (respect for biodiversity, limitation of the carbon footprint, gender equality, good governance, etc.) by integrating both internal stakeholders (employees, managers, shareholders, staff representatives) and external (customers, suppliers, institutions, etc.)

Then, propose action levers to move towards a more virtuous business model for the planet and society as a whole, including employees. This is why it is also called impact or engagement director, depending on the company.

At the Comex

At Openclassrooms, an online training site with 460 employees, the reduction of the company's carbon footprint is correlated with the managers' bonus. And it is Audrey Yvert, freshly recruited, who drives everything. “My role is to carry out all the company's carbon assessments since its inception, but also to set up a reporting system or to define objectives for reducing our emissions”she lists.

CSR is thus essential in the decision-making bodies of companies. According to a barometer from Friday, a start-up that offers a “citizen engagement” platform for companies and their employees, CSR is now attached to the Comex in 65% of cases.

In recent years, the pressure has escalated: investors are looking for committed companies, consumers are increasingly focused on “responsible” products and services, young graduates are looking for meaning and, with their new demands are shaking HR and managers, who are also faced with a growing shortage of talent. Without forgetting the employees, more and more quick to shake up their company from the inside.

“In-house copies”

At Friday, for example, we rather did things ” In the opposite way “smiles Martin Silvestre, head of impact of the young shoot. “The core of our business is already positive impact. It was after that we asked ourselves, we the employees with the founders: ‘how to be exemplary ourselves internally?' » he completes. In short, “do as I say, AND as I do”.

He coordinates the company's “impact division” and co-steers the CSR policy internally, with the help of several employees, who, in addition to their position, act on various levers: gender balance, diversity, disability, environment, etc. This work resulted in a few surprises: “We have a low carbon footprint, around one tonne per employee per year. But on the gender equality index, we clearly have areas for improvement”he points out.

During her career, Audrey Yvert from Openclassrooms has made topics of inclusion and diversity her specialty. On environmental issues and in particular carbon, she had to train. The breakthrough of labels like B-Corp is pushing companies to tackle the subject head-on. “The objective is to be in the top of the B-Corps, to be a bit first in the class”notes the professional, who will pilot the new Openclassrooms certification, rated 101/200 in 2021.

Dynamic since 2016

Caroline Renoux, the recruiter, observes a “real dynamic” around these professions in recent years. The London Agreements on the climate at the end of 2016 and the Pacte law in 2021, which requires that the social purpose of companies integrate the consideration of social and environmental issues, have moved the lines.

It is above all the large companies that have set the tone and are investing the most resources with dedicated teams. Some have legal obligations: listed companies, those with more than 500 employees, and those generating more than 100 million Pounds in turnover must provide annual “extra-financial reporting”. According to Friday's barometer, 80% of large groups and more than half of ETIs are “active” or “very active” on all CSR topics, compared to a third of SMEs and VSEs.

In small structures, on the other hand, it is not uncommon for an impact manager to wear several hats. At Chemins d'avenirs, a structure dedicated to supporting young people from rural areas, Claire Barberis-Giletti is responsible for impact and development. In other words, it is also responsible for raising funds for the association and creating financial partnerships.

The positive impact measure aimed at the young people supported is also a strong argument for the development of the association. “Since the creation of the association, we have implemented an impact measurement with our beneficiaries in order to assess the transformative effect of our programs. Concretely, I create impact questionnaires that I analyze and that we evolve over time to best meet their needs »she explains.

Analysis, network, courage

A fashionable profession… which is struggling to recruit. Schools are gradually integrating social and environmental subjects into their programs, but somewhat senior profiles are missing, notes the recruiter. The profiles sought must, in addition to a detailed knowledge of the subject, have a strong ability to convince, to bring people together and to create a network. “Courage too, because sometimes there are difficult messages to convey to management and which can conflict with the productivity logic of a company”she continues.

You also need an analytical mind, who knows how to count numbers and process statistics. Without forgetting the personal conviction. “It's hard to convince others when you feel like you're not aligned”believes Audrey Yvert. So many skills that justify a remuneration of between 80,000 and 110,000 Pounds gross annually, according to the recruiter.

All fashion also calls for its share of “washing”, warns Caroline Renoux. And advise: “Before applying, remember to check that the company does not greenwash – there are more and more of them – otherwise you risk finding yourself in a position without the possibility of acting. »

Conclusion

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