This article is a summary of the second edition of La French Touch (un)Conference San Francisco, which took place on January, 16 2018.
Built around the Positive Impact theme, this event was dedicated to discussing how actors of entrepreneurial ecosystems could positively impact their environments and society through innovation.
The panel discussed the idea of Tech for good, with a focus on how the tech industry contributes to shaping a better world.
The second panel featured six speakers:
- Matthieu Soule, L’Atelier BNP Paribas US
- Thibault Duchemin, Founder & CEO of Ava
- Jama Adams, Founder & Partner of SidePorch
- Magali Mathieu, co-founder & Chief Partnership Builder of Atlas
- Didier Rappaport, CEO of Happn
- Aude Anquetil, President of Development and Engagement US of Epic
The concept of “good” or “better” entails moral assumptions, therefore the discussion was an attempt to assess the positive impact of tech on society, the tools to measure it and the challenges to change established business practices.
To begin with, a majority of the panelists agreed on the necessity to move from a traditional business model to social business. The discussion dealt with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ethics in business, community-building and the role of politics.
The notion of experience was emphasized by panelists. Today, people are triggered by experiences. Making people interact with the product/service empowers them to contribute to solving the problem one company has targeted. By taping in their day-to-day habits, the audience eventually plays the roles of brand ambassador and customers. Therefore, it goes without saying that successful (social) businesses connect and engage with their audience.
Such statement leads us to the question of determining and measuring the positive impact of tech companies on society. A strategic plan of action should hold the entire company accountable throughout the year. Tracking actions and analyzing data are the most effective ways to assess the positive impact on communities. A few examples of actions were shared, such as monthly giving to charity, the creation of a diverse and open-minded work environment or refusing contracts from businesses that don’t share similar values. All in all, profits and integrity are valued as equal.
Politics also play an essential role in limiting profit-driving strategies and encouraging CSR initiatives. Tax carbon or gender & diversity quotas are legal enforcement that regulates the scope of businesses and incites them to transition towards a more social business model.
If the problem of “fake” social businesses – companies that use CSR labels to build a reputation- was addressed, the panel reminded that the coherence of the values and the actions of one company can assess its integrity.
Eventually, social business will simply be business.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, watch the video of the panel discussion here.