Maud Avenel is a student engineer specialising in Environmental Engineering at UniLaSalle, Rennes campus. In September 2022, as part of her practical work-study training, she joined the Continuous Improvement team at Construction Specialties France. Her role within the company is that of QHSE Project Manager.
Maud is responsible for the production of various environmental product certifications, such as Environmental and Health Declaration Sheets (EHDS), Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) and Cradle To Cradle (C2C). She is a specialist in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and eco-design, and it is with this expertise that she contributes to the company’s CSR culture.
As part of the certification EcoVadis process, Maud shares her experience, her commitment and the challenges she faced along the way. She provides a valuable insight into what she has learned from the experience, offering useful advice to those seeking certification with EcoVadis.
The EcoVadis certification is an internationally recognised assessment for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainable business practices. It is a comprehensive assessment of a company’s environmental, social and ethical performance in the areas of social and human rights, environment, fair operating practices and sustainable procurement.
The certification process encourages businesses to adopt best practices for sustainability management in global supply chains whilst assuring customers that their products are ethically sourced.
During my engineering education, I learned some essential critical thinking and problem-solving techniques. We are taught to clearly identify the problem using methods such as DMAIC/PDCA (define the problem, the objective, the scope, the context, propose solutions, determine the actions to be implemented, analyse the results, and implement corrective actions). We also analyse the context in which the problem arises, taking into account the history and culture of the company, its organisation, strengths and weaknesses, environmental constraints, and existing processes.
Prioritising actions, proposing solutions (actions, tools, indicators), analysing results and continuous improvement are key elements of this methodical approach.
In addition, my various courses on corporate culture, CSR, and the building sector, as well as my various professional experiences, have allowed me to develop my capacity for understanding, adaptability and flexibility. These skills allow me to gain a global and transversal overview of the topics covered. In fact, CSR concerns all the company’s services and activities. It is therefore essential to gain an in-depth understanding of the context and the constraints in order to carry out an effective CSR strategy.
CSR is a field of study that I explored in great depth during the last three years of my engineering course. This concept covers many areas and plays a major role in improving the company’s performance. Having acquired this in-depth theoretical knowledge, I really wanted to put it into practice in a concrete and stimulating context, such as the construction industry.
In collaboration with my colleague Camille Lhuillier, I was given the task of implementing the CSR strategy within our company. For me, this project represents an exciting challenge and the opportunity to put my theoretical knowledge into practice. Indeed, I chose to devote my end-of-study dissertation to this subject, in order to validate my training and deepen my skills in the field of CSR.
CS France is currently taking its first steps in its CSR approach. We undertook the evaluation of our CSR performance using the EcoVadis questionnaire, in order to draw up an inventory of our company practices which are similar to CSR. This assessment allowed us to identify our strong and weak points, as well as the areas requiring improvement, whether in terms of our policies, our actions or our results.
By choosing EcoVadis as a tool and indicator, CS France made the decision to prioritise the actions to be implemented and to guide our approach, while allowing us to compare our CSR performance with that of other companies in the building sector.
It is interesting to note that CS France had already implemented some CSR practices and actions, without even being aware of it. The EcoVadis approach has enabled us to highlight these practices and our performance in relation to them.
We use EcoVadis as a valuable decision-making tool. It helps us define our priorities, implement the necessary actions, identify the areas where we need to act and determine our means of action. In short, it contributes to building our CSR approach in an effective and enlightened way.
To implement this type of plan, several key elements need to be taken into account. First of all, it’s essential that the company’s management is fully committed. This means that managers must not only support the strategy, but also actively promote it to all employees.
It is also essential that all employees understand and adopt the strategy. It is important to get everyone in the organisation on board, by adapting messages and actions to different positions and profiles. This ensures that everyone takes ownership of the strategy, which in turn promotes its success.
Another crucial aspect is the adaptation of the CSR strategy and the sustainable development objectives so that they are tailored specifically to the company. It is essential to take into account the specificities and challenges specific to each organisation in order to be able to prioritise the actions and initiatives that best correspond to that company’s identity and reality. This adaptation makes the approach more relevant and aligned with the company’s values and image.
It is also important to unite employees and stakeholders to work towards a common goal and a shared project. By creating a common vision and involving the company’s various stakeholders, it is possible to mobilise support for and strengthen commitment to the sustainable development strategy.
Finally, it is essential to establish a solid link between the practices put in place and the sustainable development objectives. It is not only a question of implementing isolated actions, but of placing them in the context of a global vision and aligning them with long-term sustainability objectives. This consistency between practices and objectives makes it possible to obtain concrete and measurable results in terms of a positive impact on the environment, society and the economy.
As soon as I arrived in September, I began the process of setting up EcoVadis certification for CS France. After taking the time to understand the company and its employees, as well as the EcoVadis assessment as a whole, I submitted the questionnaire in December.
It is important to note that I spent several weeks familiarising myself with the project, outside of my time at school. I wanted to make sure I had a clear picture of the company and its practices before fully embarking on collecting the data required for the questionnaire.
I must also add that the EcoVadis certification is just one of the many CSR certifications available. It was chosen based on the requests from our suppliers and customers. The ultimate aim of this certification is to certify the entire value chain, demonstrating our commitment to sustainable and responsible practices.
In short, I managed to complete this certification project in a total of eight weeks, ensuring I immersed myself in the company and the EcoVadis assessment before embarking on collecting the necessary data.