Sustainability Report 2018
TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE - Sustainability Report 2018

Ardian's sustainability vision

Philippe Poletti, Head of Ardian Buyout and Member of the Executive Committee, Chairman of the Sustainability Committee, discusses Ardian’s sustainability vision and ambitions with Candice Brenet, Head of Sustainability
Sustainability is about empowering everyone to make a positive difference

Philippe Poletti: Right from the start in 2008, when Dominique Senequier decided we should share the value we created, we thought sustainability was a very important issue for all stakeholders. That’s why we were one of the first private investment companies to sign the UN PRI in 2009. However, we soon realized that the thinking on these issues wasn’t evolving quickly enough. We wanted to move faster so we decided that no matter what anyone else was doing, we would have to take the lead on some of these topics – like measuring the financial value companies create by improving their ESG per formance. If we’ve tended to develop our own tools and ways of approaching sustainability, it ’s not because we wanted to be dif ferent; just that we wanted enhance the pace of the transition.

Candice Brenet: I agree, and I think that’s what led to us develop the Ardian way of doing things. We always refer to the international framework s for Responsible Investment, but we tailor them to fit our investment strategies so they can help us to create value as efficiently as possible. That has usually meant that we’ve developed our own tools and processes to track sustainability performance across Ardian’s different areas of activity. A lot of our LPs are very concerned about sustainability and we have ongoing dialog with them about how our performance is evolving. We also have a ver y distinct way of working with our portfolio companies – we always take care to respect the culture of every company, to understand how they operate and to have a proper dialog with them in order to co-design an ESG roadmap that’s tailored to their needs and future development. It’s never a top-down approach where we say, ‘you have to do this and this’. We bring resources and help them and their people to do it for themselves. It’s all based on our sustainability vision, which is to empower individuals and companies to create sustainable value together.

PP: That’s the key to our engagement, we share a common vision to drive our actions going forward. In areas like environmental awareness and initiatives to address climate change, we have seen major progress in our portfolio companies as well as within Ardian itself, through employee-led initiatives like the Green Challenge. Our people are ver y focused on ef for ts to address climate change and they expect Ardian to be led by example.

CB: It’s the same with our Fund of Funds portfolio. We have the same ambition to empower our partners to operate more sustainably and we want the GPs in the por t folio to spread best practices through their companies. Our aim is always to promote this approach and we’re using our inf luence to fuel the dynamics for a maximum reach of our impact among other GPs and the industry.

PP: Now we want to go fur ther again. Lots of people are thinking about creating impact funds and we have created a dedicated team to look at this idea too. Impact is an important topic for Ardian and one that we are reflecting on a lot, but we decided early on that in our company, impact should not be a niche activity. We are a global player and we want to think about impact across everything we do, so we’ve decided to measure and improve the impact of our portfolio companies without accepting any trade-off in financial performance. We believe our companies should have a postive impact while delivering the same returns. We believe that this ambition will drive distinctive returns in the future.

CB: This year for the first time we plan to measure the impact of the companies in our Buyout port folio using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as the overarching framework for our own methodology. Again we are aiming to pioneer new approaches to sustainability in our industry.

PP: We’re absolutely determined to remain at the forefront and that’s why we’re also reinforcing the Ardian Foundation. Social mobility is an important topic and the Foundation has done an amazing job so far. Now we need a Foundation that ref lects what we are: a large, international player with a global impact.

CB: As Ardian gets bigger we have the oppor tunit y to make a bigger positive impact and we also have bigger responsibilities. I think this development is completely aligned with our culture. Our 10-year history in the sustainability field is one of experiment ing and taking new initiatives every year, and it’s been successful. We have great ambition in everything we do – without any compromise.

“We are a global player and we want to think about impact across everything that we do.”

Philippe Poletti