Following the success of our interview with Shui Mahieu, Sustainable Procurement Manager at Air Liquide, we decided to bring you more profile interviews with CSR professionals from this year’s Sustain.
“My job as a CSR manager is a job of commitment”
A trained scientist, with a thorough knowledge of international standards and regulations, such as OSHAS, HAS, ISO 9001, ISO 26000, ISO 14001, ISO 22000, Mathilde Goussault has moved on from being a quality manager to CSR manager during the first nine years of her career.
Mathilde, what is your background?
I have a scientific and technical background: I have a degree in chemical and agri-food engineering from Nantes as well as a master’s degree in quality management (QSE) from Claude Bernard University in Lyon.
Before starting my professional career I traveled for a year in English-speaking Canada to open myself to other cultures, alternating between tourism, work in the hotel industry, catering and volunteering with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
I was already attracted to CSR and particularly sensitive to all the issues related to the environment, and I had worked for five years in quality before joining Bonduelle four years ago. I was initially recruited for a quality position but was soon directed toward CSR and a new position was created. I am now a CSR Manager and work in a team of three people, reporting to Anne-Sophie Fontaine, Director of Corporate Communication and CSR.
My responsibilities are very varied. I am in charge of CSR reporting and I lead the CSR steering committee, which deals with priority topics for us such as responsible purchasing, but also, for example, sustainable packaging. This is a role, in which your own principles really make a difference.
My job is to raise the awareness of internal teams on a daily basis. We need to convince our colleagues to engage their teams and move ever faster and amplify the impact.
Can you give us an example of one of your responsible purchasing projects at Bonduelle?
Just two years ago, we used an internal questionnaire to learn about CSR performance of some of our suppliers – this is something we now do with EcoVadis.
I basically act as a bridge between EcoVadis and the internal teams, in particular the buyers, to make sure responsible purchasing practices get properly implemented and we stay on top of things.
To ensure efficiency moving forward, the entire process has to change. Buyers themselves must change their habits and integrate CSR performance issues into their dialogue with their supplier partners. We started with Europe. Thanks to the risk mapping work carried out with EcoVadis, we know our priorities. With the assessment results we know exactly where our suppliers stand in terms of their sustainability performance.
My next task will be to convince and involve our subsidiaries in the Americas and Russia. The approach remains the same: Risk mapping followed by an initial assessment campaign.
What advice would you give to your peers who are looking to engage their buying teams?
When talking to the buying teams you need to remember, first and foremost, that you are talking to people. And these people hold particular positions in the company. If they are already aware of environmental and human rights issues, it is much easier. Some of our buyers are very principled when it comes to these issues and saw the introduction of EcoVadis assessments as a very positive aspect.
Ideally, you want to have some sort of pilot or data from a small area. I am now using the results from Europe to engage other subsidiaries around the world.
As well as our European teams, our “international sourcing” department also benefited from the assessment campaigns; the results were pretty good and relatively well aligned with our estimates. This has reassured us with regard to the methodology and, of course, has laid the path for future deployments.
Challenges that we come across most often come down to internal resources and the time investment from the buyers. But there is also the question of money and how suppliers will take to the prospect of a CSR assessment carried out by a third party, given that they have to pay for it. We too, at Bonduelle, have been getting ready for an assessment in order to see for ourselves what we are asking our suppliers to do as well as gaining an evaluation of our CSR performance.
And finally, can you say a few words about your experience with EcoVadis?
Something that strikes me and I would definitely like to mention is the new EcoVadis platform, which is very easy and very intuitive compared to others.
The Bonduelle Group is a French family company created in 1853. Its ambition now is to become the world’s reference in “well-living” through plant-based diets.
With a focus on innovation and long-term vision, the group is diversifying its businesses and geographical locations. Its vegetables, grown on 128,000 hectares, are marketed in 100 countries under different brands, in different distribution channels and in all technologies. For more information check out Bonduelle’s CSR Report.
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