Sustainable Development: Dr Magalie Marais, MBS professor, speaks at the National Assembly
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is something she knows well! Constituent member of the MBS Values and Diversity Committee, Dr Magalie Marais is also part of the research group VOAR (Values, Organisations, Actors, and Responsibility), along with three other MBS lecturer-researchers who specialise in CSR, sustainable development, and diversity practices. That’s why on 19 October, the working group “Sustainable Development in the Administration and Operations of the National Assembly” had Dr Marais speak and share her expertise. A few days later, Dr Marais told us about this unique experience in the splendour of the Republic.
Why did the National Assembly invite you to speak on 19 October ?
The National Assembly wants to implement a sustainable development policy as part of a model investigation. At the international level, the fact that a parliament has decided to take up a sustainable development initiative is itself quite pioneering. I said yes, because I’ve been working for years on bringing sustainable development issues to businesses through CSR initiatives, and I found it very interesting that a public organisation like this would take up this kind of initiative. I’ve already worked in Aix-en-Provence and the Hérault on bringing CSR initiatives to territorial institutions, and I was interested in pursuing this work with an important body like the National Assembly.
How did the hearing before the working group go ?
The hearing itself lasted an hour and a half. I got to give a presentation and respond to questions that citizens had mailed in. But it was a really fascinating, exciting day. It was also impressive to be invited by a working group. There’s a lot of protocol, and not only that, the hearing was filmed. But what’s most significant is that we have a parliament committed to such initiatives, and I’m eager to see what will come of this hearing and the following ones, because they’ll of course hear other experts.
On that topic, what do you think can come of this global initiative ?
The National Assembly has particular strengths. For example, it’s an institution that’s central to the country’s democratic life, with significant stakes in exemplarity and civic action. So my main message was to defend the importance of having a real initiative. That is, if the National Assembly launches this initiative, it should start by addressing the issues that are central to its mission, and not try to do something cosmetic. In my view, this could be a democratic lever, because CSR can strengthen their civic calling and reaffirm their democratic mission. For example, it could translate into a parliament that’s closer to citizens with a new type of governance. Also, they’re taking into account ecological challenges with simple practices, such as reducing the amount of paper used for amendments. That may sound silly, but these are small sustainable development actions that contribute to the process as a whole. Another example: even if we often only see the deputies, the National Assembly is an institution with several professions, and the workplace well-being of all people should be taken into account as part of a sustainable development initiative.