To express its commitment to solidarity, Societe Generale is offering employees various opportunities to get involved in initiatives supported by the Foundation: mentoring young people and adults to help them find a job is one of these.
As a mentor, a Societe Generale employee supports a person in social difficulty or who has fallen out of the employment market, with their education, career advice or job search by sharing their experience and giving advice.
Here are some of the associations which 500 Societe Generale employees work with:
Nos quartiers ont des talents: employment guidance for young people educated to Bachelor’s degree/Master’s degree level
Capital Filles: mentoring of young women from underprivileged neighbourhoods from age 15;
Mozaïk RH: mentoring of young graduates, mainly from working class neighbourhoods);
Frateli: professional guidance and mentoring of brilliant students from modest backgrounds, throughout their university studies;
Proxité: support at school, looking for a job or internship;
Solidarités Nouvelles face au Chômage: support for the long-term unemployed when looking for a job.
Those working in the field state that there is a vast need for this mainly human-focused support. This is where the experience and skills of company employees come into play. For Cécile Jouenne-Lanne, Director of Citizenship for the Societe Generale Group, “Mentoring reflects our team spirit, a key value for our company”.
Discussion with an adult - who is not a parent - in an individual setting, based on trust and not judgement, can make a huge difference. Slowly the dialogue helps them deal with school work or familiarise themselves with the business world. The gap between these worlds is not just about physical distance. For example, for a local young person without any professional experience, visiting the Societe Generale Towers at La Défense for the first time helps them overcome an invisible boundary: greeting and giving ID to the receptionist, locating the offices, expressing and introducing themselves... it’s like visiting an unknown land.
There are various reasons why mentors get involved, and they have diverse profiles. But they all say that the positive effects are quickly apparent. And the exchange is beneficial for both sides: opening their eyes to realities which they would not have been aware of, or by forging closer ties with their local area.
Young graduates who are mentored effectively find a job more quickly; school support for a student can become a long-term collaboration which is essential for their development: mentoring has a significant social impact as it works over time (from 6 months to 3 years). The significant flexibility means that employees can manage their time well, particularly at head office, as it is relatively easily to set aside one or two hours per week at work. And the benefits of this commitment go beyond the duo in question: mentors say that their attitude towards colleagues changes and there is a greater focus on team spirit. Donating time in this way often leads to regaining a sense of meaning.
In order to understand Societe Generale employees’ commitment, we wanted to give the floor to three of our employees, who are mentors involved with several associations. Houda, Jaoueb and Hervé tell us about being a mentor.