As president of the board of management of BPI Group, Sabine Lochmann assists and advises businesses in their transformations, all while being deeply involved herself in the transformations of the group she heads up.
Leaders League. How do you reconcile the interests of shareholders and those of other stakeholders?
Sabine Lochmann. The regular increase in questions posed by shareholders about the non-financial commitments of businesses (including those to do with venture capital), is evidence of the growing interest of investors in projects which allow economic performance to be brought together with human performance. However, market capital and human capital have always seemed to belong to two different worlds and are perhaps even at odds with one another, when it comes to issues like results-based layoffs. This is especially owing to the impact of globalization, the financialization of the economy, the challenges of digitization, high-frequency trading, without forgetting the effects of the use of artificial intelligence in industrial activities or services.
Do investors take on board social and environmental aspects?
The financial markets are not schizophrenic and the CSR committees or HR specialists within or outside of publicly traded companies are not naive. Without going back to Jean Bodin, who dared to write in 1576 that, “there is no wealth, no strength, only men,” the legal dynamic is clearly in favour of an explicit and economic evaluation of the non-financial commitments of businesses. Since the 2001 NER (New Economic Regulations) law came into force, a duty to publish data, “on the ways in which they take on board the social and environmental consequences of their activity,” has been imposed on publicly traded companies. We must, therefore, not confuse investors with speculators. Long-term investors in large firms are sensitive to the values of human capital and to the benefits of its performance. For that matter, it is they who pay for non-financial audits.
What is the role of the manager in this new vision of business?
A good leader acts as a catalyst for the feeling of belonging to a team all while replacing the meaning of work at the heart of everyday life within a framework of trust. All of this contributes to collective performance. As with a conductor, they enable each person to develop their talents within a harmonious, productive collective. In other words, nurturing well-being in the workplace and provoking the curiosity of the individual is vital to economic performance. It’s also something that many businesses develop in a displayed manner just as well with their employees as they do in order to be credible in the face of clients and potential clients.
In your opinion, what is the position of the shareholders in this approach?
Shareholders are sensitive to the ability of the leader to expand the organization, to innovate, especially in terms of training and the implementation of new yet relevant technological solutions, so as to respond to the challenges of our times, of resources and of managing change.
Interview by Roxanne Croisier
(Translation: Eloise Lake)