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Griet and Claire: constantly inventing new solutions for a future of solidarity

Griet joined Carrefour Belgium working in purchasing, but has been working on solidarity-related issues for five years now. Extremely active out in the field, she has seen real changes and shares her experience with us.

Claire is particularly interested in issues dealing with responsible economy and is involved in many charity projects. She wants to work in a stimulating environment. She would like sustainable development to be at the crux of her future job.


Griet, solidarity manager


Griet has always worked for Carrefour Belgium, but not always on solidarity issues. She actually began in the purchasing department, "but my manager at the time quickly realised that I could be more useful somewhere else". A year later, she started working for the communications department before tackling issues to do with sustainable development for eight years. She moved over to solidarity five years ago. "Now I am entirely focused on this issue and there aren't many people working on it on a full-time basis!"


The professional pathway that Griet has taken has afforded her an overview of the Group and its work. "A retailer's primary role is to provide access to food and our solidarity policy is built around this aim". In order to meet this goal, Griet and Carrefour are particularly involved in partnerships with associations that play key roles in this area. "This also meets a demand that our customers have formulated, so we set up partnerships that have meaning for them”, such as with the Food Banks or other organisations that are not food-related, such as the charity SOS Children's Villages.


Although Griet is THE person who has been appointed to deal with solidarity issues, the whole Group is behind this initiative. "I've seen real change in the five years that I've been doing this job. Now, people working in the field bring us projects". And beyond the ties that she has with national partners, Griet is in contact with representatives throughout the Group: employees working in support functions and in the stores, as well as suppliers. A product-sharing campaign implemented alongside the Group's suppliers, for example, raised more than €140,000.


Therefore, Griet always seeks to bring different stakeholders together and generate synergies among them, both locally and globally. "We strive for short distribution channels; as part of our drive to keep food waste to a minimum and give away unsold stock, we are able to help local charities". Griet is flourishing in this role of facilitator, reconciling needs and opportunities. But that's not all! She also educates other, "explaining how and why we take action", to further develop solidarity.

Griet is an educator and facilitator, but is first and foremost a woman who works out in the field. Not easy when you have to maintain contact with partners, manage feedback about various partnerships and coordinate with the group's various business units. “But it's worth it! When you consider that a number of franchised stores are willingly taking part in the same campaigns as the consolidated stores, that is very significant!” In particular, this was the case with the Clic Solidaire (“Give with a Click”) campaign which raised nearly €280,000 for 79 charities in 2017. Associations were able to use this money to acquire the equipment they needed to grow (refrigerated vehicles for the food banks, cooking equipment for social canteens, etc.).


" Solidarity and poverty are no longer peripheral concerns. Falling into poverty is not just something that happens to other people, so the work we do cannot simply be cosmetic. We have a duty to do it! "


The most visible change that she has seen in five years however, is the growing enthusiasm of the Group's employees and managers. They are increasingly involved and "have a more in-depth knowledge of the local context in which each store operates. They know their local associations, their needs, etc.”. By drawing on this factor, Griet aspires to turning Carrefour into an even more inspirational meeting place, to keep inventing new solutions. “Solidarity and poverty are no longer peripheral concerns. Falling into poverty is not just something that happens to other people, so the work we do cannot simply be cosmetic. We have a duty to do it."


Claire, second year of a Master's degree in Sustainable Development and Responsibility of Organisations at the Paris Dauphine University


Following a science-orientated baccalauréat, Claire completed a first degree in economics and management, and has always been involved in charity projects. In her last year at school, she worked for UNICEF, then undertook an internship at the European Youth Parliament, as well as getting involved in her university association’s radio station. There is as much volunteer experience on her CV as professional experience! But just like Griet Leynaert, she very quickly felt that "something was missing" and found in social entrepreneurship and tackling climate change "a second wind" for her career path. For this reason she enrolled in a Master's degree in Sustainable Development and Responsibility of Organisations. "The prospect of getting involved in a "charity" profession means that I can combine my personal beliefs with my professional ambitions", since according to her "everything – or almost everything – is still to be done".


Although she particularly identifies with the turn that Griet’s career path has taken, above all Claire is envious of the sheer variety of her responsibilities and the people with whom she deals. "You never get bored in sustainable development! "You deal with a great variety of stakeholders, people from different backgrounds – it's highly enriching and challenging!" As well as working in a stimulating environment, Claire is interested in the sheer range of possibilities. Sustainable Development is all about the future. So we can speculate about what future towns and cities and relationships will be like". Just as Griet promotes short distribution channels and aspires to turn Carrefour into a meeting place so as to keep inventing new solutions, Claire is passionate about circular economic models and looks towards the future.

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