Any business is experiencing a crisis one day. How is it handled in this case?
Jacques Lecomte: These companies make ethical choices and not short-term profitability. The most prominent example is that of the American company Southwest Airlines. In 2001, following September 11, there were 25% of redundancies in air transport. In thirty years of existence, this company had never dismissed. All financial advisers recommended that part of the staff be separated. The new boss, who had just taken office, decided not to send anyone back, while the company was losing a million dollars a day. He remained true to one of the values of the company: " We take care ", "We take care of our staff". Winning bet: Southwest Airlines has managed to resist, and the position adopted has resulted in immense recognition and loyalty of employees. The crisis passed, she was able to recruit again.
Do you think there will be more and more humanist companies?
Jacques Lecomte: I am convinced of that. Generations Y and Z are for me the absolute hope. Social entrepreneurship attracts them a lot. These young people are inhabited by the spirit of sharing, especially through social networks. They are less interested in a career than their elders, they dream of more collaboration, less hierarchical relations and, above all, want work that is meaningful and useful.
Many companies are governed by the idea of "earn more at any price" ... You must often be treated as an ideologue, right?
Jacques Lecomte: Of course. After writing Human Goodness [Odile Jacob], I have often been called Bisounours! My point of view can be discussed, but I am convinced that the example of these entrepreneurs, who prove that we can combine moral convictions and efficiency, will be a source of inspiration. I like this phrase from Lao Tzu: "It's not enough to curse the darkness, turn on a light."
You say that these companies can even change the world. How?
Jacques Lecomte: Some, among them multinationals, pledge to reduce poverty, malnutrition, diseases in the world, or to preserve the environment. The pharmaceutical company Merck, for example, discovered and then decided to distribute a free, large-scale vaccine, Mectizan, against a common disease in Africa: river blindness. It is the biggest industrial sponsorship action to date. His CEO is committed to continuing until the disease is eradicated.It is a society in which people are proud and motivated to work: they know they are helping to improve the world.
Humanist enterprises, how they will change the world, Jacques Lecomte (The Arena).