Corporate Social Responsibility is a concept that emerged in the 1960s, but since the 2000s, it has become an increasingly important issue for companies worldwide. CSR integrates social, environmental and economic issues into business strategy to create value for all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders and the business’s community. In short, CSR is a win-win approach for companies and society. It allows companies to contribute to sustainable development while strengthening their reputation and competitiveness. Many people have changed their careers to take the path of tomorrow. Global and societal challenges open up opportunities to innovate by building the jobs of tomorrow. This is the case of Bénédicte Ouvrard, IT buyer at ARTO Group.
The ARTO group specialises in the responsible recycling of computer equipment. It operates in electronic waste management and offers electronic waste recovery, recycling and treatment services for businesses and individuals. ARTO aims to reduce the environmental impact of end-of-life computer hardware by responsibly recovering and recycling components. The company uses environmentally friendly e-waste processing methods to minimize the impact on natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions. By recycling e-waste components such as computers, cell phones, printers and batteries, ARTO helps reduce the amount of e-waste in landfills and incinerators. The company also protects customers’ data by erasing the data before recycling the devices.
Bénédicte Ouvrard is a stimulating professional who knows how to change paths to take the direction of the world of tomorrow. She lent herself to our exclusive interview game, which allows us to learn more about her career and the challenges of her profession today.
LuxuryActivist (LA): Dear Bénédicte, you have decided to change careers after a successful experience in the airline industry. What were your motivations for such a change?
Bénédicte Ouvrard (BO): I don’t know if we can discuss motivation. It was most evident. After having learned so much within Air France, there comes a day when a personal event turns everything upside down. I no longer felt in my place. It had become visceral. I don’t just want something else; I need to get involved elsewhere. But how do you know where to go after more than twenty years with the same company? I decided to be accompanied by APEC (Association Pour l’Emploi des Cadres) as part of a mid-term review to help me understand my desires and take stock of my skills. It will be a precious help, which we do not necessarily think of. I meet a very attentive adviser who will accompany me and tell me that retraining at my age sometimes takes place in a universe that we do not think about in its social sphere.
LA: What were the first difficulties but also the motivating points for such a decision?
BO: The first difficulties are the others; Anyone who discourages you from wanting to quit some job security. But it is also my diploma level because I only have a baccalaureate and my age. I had the opportunity to do a VAE (validation of acquired experience) in June 2020. I prepared a license in management of organizations which I obtained in December of the same year. Supported by those around me, I decided to take the voluntary departure plan launched by the company and prepared to look for a new job under better conditions. Changing my age is impossible, but I see it as a strength; at 45, we know each other well, and I am ready to invest myself in a new career with all the will and energy I can show.
LA: After the difficult period of the pandemic, many people ask themselves about life changes. What advice would you give to these people, and where to start?
BO: First of all, you have to listen to yourself; sometimes, you refuse to hear a little voice telling you to stop; other times, it is the body that speaks. Please pay attention to the signs telling you it’s time to go live with a new experience. And then you have to believe in yourself and your abilities; we are often our first brake for fear of the unknown and lack of self-confidence. Starting with a skills assessment is the right way to know where we are. Understanding what drives us daily will help you find the sector of activity that suits you best, and then you have to know how to open your eyes to recognize opportunities when they arise. For me, everything was decided around an aperitif in a zoom video. Etienne talks about his recruitment difficulties, I was on partial unemployment then, and I can’t take this inactivity any longer.
The appointment is made the following week to discuss with the associate director. What was supposed to last a few months turned into a permanent contract proposal and a real professional opportunity. It would be lying to say that everything was easy, the first year was rather complicated with mixed results, but with the support of a benevolent manager and my relatives, I landed my first big project at the end of 2021. You must know how to digest failures, learn from your mistakes and never give up! Arto is, above all, a great human and friendly adventure. We were 5 in 2020, and today almost 35 people!
“WHAT IS CSR TODAY? IN MY EYES IT IS IMPORTANT TO CALL ON A FRENCH COMPANY THAT CREATES JOBS IN FRANCE AND SUSTAINS THEM“Bénédicte Ouvrard, IT Buyer at the ARTO Group
LA: Following your professional change, you are now a computer equipment buyer for the ARTO Group, with the objective of responsible reconditioning. What does it consist of? Why is this important?
BO: Today, companies are faced with new societal and environmental challenges, but not only. They must manage their “devices” end of life, recondition when possible, and recycle their waste while working their budget with often reduced staff. I support them in the process by offering them a collaboration based on trust, and I manage their project from A to Z by respecting the RGPD and by processing their equipment in France; we have no subcontractors abroad. I save time for my suppliers, and that is valuable.
What is CSR today? In my view, it is essential to call on a French company that creates jobs in France and sustains them. French companies have a role to play in choosing their partner, and they must be vigilant about the fate of their waste, the treatment of their equipment or the sales channels for reconditioned products. Contribute to including people with RQTH status rather than soliciting a company that gives Agefiph points, not just ticking the boxes but acting at its level, so things change.
LA: We might think that large companies already have their reconditioning and recycling channels for their computer equipment. Why is this not always the case?
BO: It isn’t effortless to set up a structure and procedures for an event that happens every five years for computers on average and three years for smartphones. Sometimes companies choose to give the equipment to employees or associations; in this case, the end-of-life management and the controls inherent in recycling change hands. Each company decides when and which partner will manage this subject; they then have the choice of making a long-term commitment with the chosen company or selecting, via a call for tenders, a partner who will accompany them during a one-off recycling.
LA: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is crucial for any manager. Customers are increasingly more sensitive to the efforts their favourite companies put in place, and in 2023, it is almost something expected. How do you view this?
BO: When I started in 2020, the CSR manager was non-existent in my exchanges with my interlocutors; he is present half the time today. Since doing this job, I have learned that many French companies have created associations and redistributed all the funds generated by selling their devices at the end of the cycle. I consider that companies work in silence, and we propose donating the sums obtained to foundations to allow our partners to support the causes close to their hearts. Taking a few moments to read the CSR reports of major French companies is very instructive. The subject is treated and sometimes for a long time, even before it becomes a priority for some. The most blatant example is this French company which gives its employees up to 15 days a year to go and work voluntarily in associations and allows its employees to participate in a cause actively.
LA: You seem already to have a good network of clients with outstanding contracts. How do you see your relationship with your client companies? What is your secret to success?
BO: I have no secrets, but to do this job, you must be tenacious! Sometimes a project succeeds after long months of discussions, so you must be patient. However, this is not my top quality! I also believe that since I have been doing this job, I feel alive and fulfilled, which shows in the way I present my activity and ARTO. I am attentive to the needs of my partners, and I adapt according to the conditions that are not lacking on specific projects. I meet incredible personalities daily, committed people who move the lines at their level, and I strive to give them a caring relationship, as I learned at Air France. No matter what, I stay honest with my partners, and I think they appreciate it.
LA: You are at the heart of the vast subject of reconditioning and recycling. Corporate responsibility is notorious. How do you see the situation in France currently on this subject? Are there any significant trends to draw from it? Should companies be required to have a reconditioning partner by law?
BO: As explained previously, we all have a role to play, French companies too. I feel we are going in the right direction, even if we will never do enough for some. Behind the companies, there are the employees, and what are they doing at their level? For my part, I consume locally, and I sort and sometimes pick up the waste that I find on my country roads during my morning walks. The trend is inevitable: we are all responsible, and our consciences are changing. Today we give, sometimes barter before buying new, and think differently before throwing away. Companies also sometimes choose refurbished. Some local authorities are subject to the AGEC law, which imposes 20% refurbishment.
Imposing a partner seems a bit difficult to me; on the other hand, setting a French partner would perhaps be a good thing so that specific French departments that go through auctions do not choose attractive offers from foreign companies.
LA: Tell us something about yourself that few people know that is worth mentioning here.
BO: At the start of the covid, I volunteered in an Ehpad for three months. This experience profoundly affected me to the point that I considered working with the elderly.
LA: What can we wish for the future?
BO: Beautiful human encounters that give birth to new collaborations.
In conclusion, it is crucial to take into account the environmental impact of our actions, including when it comes to our electronic devices. By responsibly recycling our smartphones and laptops, we can contribute to protecting the environment while avoiding throwing our devices in a landfill. The ARTO Group is a crucial player in the French market, and Bénédicte Ouvrard is trustworthy. As we often say, “There is no planet B, ” so we must all do our part to minimize our environmental footprint. By choosing to recycle our electronics, we can all become CSR heroes. Bénédicte Ouvrard is an everyday hero.
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