Corporate Social Responsibility at the heart of the Group's strategy

Corporate & Social Responsability

A responsible Group

Economic development is no longer possible without environmental and social progress. It is the responsibility of major companies to suggest the next virtuous models, models that encourage positive transformations of the world.

Our Group has a leading role to play in helping build greener and more inclusive development models, and enabling the emergence of new drivers of sustainable growth. Social responsibility is at the heart of Societe Generale group’s corporate purpose: “Building together, with our clients, a better and sustainable future through responsible and innovative financial solutions.”

To help the Group put this into action across all its dimensions (Environmental, Social and Governance), Societe Generale conducted a survey with all stakeholders to identify concrete actions and make a positive impact in terms of sustainable development.

The ambition to become a leader in sustainable finance is rooted in our capacity to bring innovation and thought leadership to help build new standards. The breadth and speed of investment needed to adapt our economies have never been seen before, which is both challenging and very exciting. This requires all of us to rethink the way we serve our clients in order to bring the most relevant solutions and remain their partner of choice.

Hacina Py, Group Chief Sustainability Officer

We have identified the four key and interconnected areas of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) ambition. Two of the pillars form the framework of responsible banking: a culture of responsibility and being a responsible employer. The other two areas are the springboards for positive transformations driven by the Group’s actions as a responsible bank: supporting the environmental transition and having a positive local impact.

We believe that we have entered a new paradigm. The world of tomorrow is being created today.

  1. All changes should be accelerated and implemented as quickly as possible, leaving no one behind: environmental and decarbonisation issues are inextricably linked to issues of inclusion in all its forms. Transition will be holistic, not incremental.
  2. As a company, we need to change approach and mindset, to move from the traditional bank that finances and advises to an advisory role supporting our clients in a way that covers all of their issues - their market, their ecosystem, and all of the associated factors - in order to be upstream of their problems, as close as possible to their reality. We invent new business models. And do so across all activities and businesses.
  3. This requires that everyone be trained, that we help our staff and our clients to understand the issues at stake and so be able to innovate for the benefit of all our customers.
  4. The challenges can only be met collectively, through coalitions with our peers and in our clients' sectors, in order to take part in the construction of common and shared standards, while maintaining a permanent dialogue with stakeholders.

Supporting our clients in the energy transition

Societe Generale is committed to building a sustainable future.
We are contributing to the environmental transition and to a positive impact locally.

Recognising our long-standing expertise in the energy sector, our clients are relying on us to support their projects dedicated to the energy transition. Here are some of them...
• 67,000 solar-powered street lights supplied to Senegal by Fonroche Lighting.
• 212 housing units renovated in rural and semi-rural areas in Champagne-Ardenne, France with Espace Habitat.
• Expected in December 2023: a new source of clean and renewable energy in Japan by Pattern Energy Group & Green Power Investment Corporation.
• By 2024: energising the offshore windfarm capabilities in the UK with JDR Cable Systems, Saving 308,000 tons of CO2 in Morocco with Masen.
• By 2026: a trailblazing solution of low impact cargo airship in France and Quebec with Flying Whales, + 5 million efuels powered vehicles in the United States, Chile and Australia by HIF Global, 1GW of hydrogen production in the UK with Vertex Hydrogen.
• By 2032: 60% of electricity from renewable energy sources in Chile by the Republic of Chile.
• By 2035: supporting the UK towards decarbonisation trajectory with Net Zero Teeside Power & The Northern Endurance Partnership.

Building a more sustainable future, together with our clients.

Climate targets

  • Societe Generale is working to align progressively its portfolios with trajectories in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, in priority on the most carbon-intensive sectors:
    • Oil & Gas:
      • reduction of upstream Oil & Gas exposure, reaching -80% by 2030 vs. 2019, with an intermediary 2025 step of -50%;
      • target on absolute GHG emissions scopes 1, 2 and 3  of -70% by 2030 vs. 2019;
    • Power generation:
      • target on the carbon intensity of the electricity production sector at 125g of CO2 per kWh in 2030, i.e. -43% vs 2019;
    • Thermal Coal:
      • complete phase-out by 2030 for EU and OECD countries, by 2040 for the rest of the world;
    • Cement: 
      • target on the carbon intensity of the cement production sector at 535kg of CO2 equivalent per ton of cement by 2030, i.e. -20% vs 2022;
    • Automotive: 
      • target on the carbon intensity of the automotive sector of 90g of CO2 equivalent per km traveled per vehicle by 2030, i.e. -51% vs 2021;
    • Steel:
      • target to align the portfolio of crude steel producers with the IEA NZE scenario based on the methodology developed by the Sustainable Steel Principles (i.e., reach an alignment score of 0 by 2030);
    • Commercial Real Estate:
      • target on the carbon intensity of the commercial real estate sector of 18kg of CO2e/sq m by 2030 (based on Societe Generale current portfolio mix), i.e. a reduction of 63% compared to 2022;
    • Aluminium:
      • target on the carbon intensity of the aluminium production sector at 6t CO2 equivalent per ton of aluminium by 2030, i.e. -25% vs 2022;
    • Maritime transport:
      • target to align the portfolio of maritime transport (excluding cruise vessels) with the IMO’s “Striving For” scenario based on a Poseidon Principles alignment score of 15% in 2030, i.e. a reduction of intensity (AER) of 43% vs 2022.
    • Aviation:
      • target on the carbon intensity of the aviation sector of 775 g de CO2 equivalent per Revenue Ton Kilometer by 2030, i.e. - 18 % vs 2019.
    • Agriculture: 

      • Companies in this sector are diversified (around various commodities) and generally manufacture or sell a multitude of products. 

      • Each commodity has its own challenges, levers and the relevant strategies are very local-specific.

      • Methodologies and scenarios are still nascent (e.g., scenarios do not allow yet to take into account important decarbonization levers such as the diversification of players towards plant-based alternatives).

      • Data availability is still limited (there is no external data provider and few clients disclose emissions and activity data).

      • Despite these challenging factors outside of the bank’s control, the Group has decided to strengthen its action to support the transition of the sector around the following main pillars:

        • monitor client progress and carry out client engagement initiatives,

        • monitor the reduction of the carbon intensity of a specific sub-segment of the agricultural value chain with regular reporting of progress to the management,

        • strengthen the Group’s agriculture policy on deforestation and conversion, which will be updated in 2024.

      • The Group will keep on monitoring data availability and industry best practices regarding the setting of emission-based targets.

    • Residential real estate:

      • This diffuse sector concerns millions of households. The main lever to decarbonize being the renovation of the assets, the bank will offer and incentivize loans dedicated to renovation but is not willing to set exclusion criteria that would adversely impact the financial inclusion of millions of households. 

      • The decision to launch renovation work is also very dependent on the availability of construction workforce and on subsidies to encourage or even enable those investments for households;

      • The sector is highly dependent on regulation and public policies on which we advocate for clear and climate oriented incentives;

      • The loan duration is, on average, much higher than in other sectors causing important inertia of the portfolio.

      • Despite these challenging factors outside of the bank’s control, the Group has decided to develop an ambitious strategy to support the transition of the sector, based on the following main pillars: 

        • develop innovative financing solutions incentivizing energy renovation (e.g., BoursoBank’s eco-responsible loan) and team up with partners to develop new solutions;

        • establish partnerships with key players to foster energy renovation by providing integrated service offerings to homeowners (e.g., Hello Watt partnership);

        • work with public bodies to identify required changes in the regulatory and policy landscape to support the transition of the sector.

      • Banks are in a pivotal position to provide innovative financing solutions and to help alleviate barriers to energy renovation. We will continue to contribute to the decarbonation of our portfolio and progress will be monitored regularly and shared with management.

  • Societe Generale supports its clients in the transition, through dedicated solutions, and a commitment to contribute to sustainable finance with €300bn by 2025;
  • Societe Generale has launched a EUR 1bn transition investment fund, including an equity component of EUR 0.7bn, to support the emergence of new actors and new technologies. The initiative will focus on energy transition, nature-based solutions and impact-driven opportunities which support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Societe Generale is committed to decrease of its operations carbon emissions by -50% between 2019 and 2030.

Over 20 years of commitment to the environmental transition

  • 2022: Aviation Climate-Aligned Finance Working Group, Aluminium Climate-Aligned Finance Working Group, Sustainable STEEL Principles
  • 2021: UNEP-FI Net-Zero Banking Alliance & NZAO, Steel Climate Aligned Finance Working Group
  • 2020: PACTA for Banks, Hydrogen Council
  • 2019: United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking and Collective Commitment to Climate Action, Getting to Zero Coalition, Poseidon Principles 
  • 2018: Climate Bond Initiative, ICMA Green Bond Principles, Katowice Commitment
  • 2001-2017: Positive Impact Initiative, CDP, Equator Principles and Soft Commodities Compact

Organisation and governance

CSR commitments involve all levels of the Group’s governance, from entry level staff to the Management Committee, to operational staff to control functions to the Board of Directors. In 2019, pursuing this ambition even further, Societe Generale created the "Group Responsible Commitments Committee", whose mission is to arbitrate and examine complex cases presenting a high risk of reputational damage or non-alignment with the Group's standards regarding CSR, ethics or conduct. CSR has become a priority area of action for the General Management: the Deputy Chief Executive Officer supervises CSR policies and their implementation, the Sustainable Development department now reports to the General Management and CSR is integrated into the responsibilities of the heads of the Group’s business lines and support functions.

Some of the Group's initiatives

Our Group's CSR commitments are proven: €300 billion has been allocated in support of sustainable finance between 2022 and 2025, and withdrawal from the coal sector is scheduled by 2030 in the European Union and OECD countries, and 2040 in the rest of the world.

Societe Generale was one of the founding signatories of the UNEP-FI Principles for Responsible Banking launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019 with the aim of promoting active coalitions and common international standards. The Group also took the occasion to join the Collective Climate Commitment.

In this context, Societe Generale is also a founding signatory of the Net Zero Banking Alliance and is working to align its most carbon-intensive credit portfolios with the objective of trajectories compatible with a planetary global warming limit of 1.5°C. Among our commitments to working collectively with our peers, Societe Generale is a founding member of the Aviation Climate-Aligned Finance (CAF) Working Group and the Aluminium Climate-Aligned Finance Working Group. In close collaboration with the principal actors of these sectors, the aim is to define methodologies and common objectives to help decarbonise the financial portfolios and support the transition of these sectors.

Societe Generale joined the Steel Climate-Aligned Finance Working Group as co-leader, joining five other leading lenders of the steel industry - Citi, Crédit Agricole CIB, ING, Standard Chartered, and UniCredit -  to set the standards paving the way for the decarbonisation of the sector. The Working Group has published Sustainable STEEL Principles (SSP), the first Climate-Aligned Finance (CAF) agreement for lenders to the steel industry. The SSP are the turn-key solution for measuring and disclosing the 1.5°C alignment of steel lending portfolios. Designed to support the practical achievement of net-zero emissions in the steel industry, they also provide the tools necessary for client engagement and advocacy.

The Group has also joined the Hydrogen Council, which brings together 81 international companies contributing to the roll-out of hydrogen as part of the the energy transition. The Bank is committed to providing its expertise in innovative financing and energy advisory to help develop the “low carbon” hydrogen solutions of tomorrow.

Aware of new expectations and requirements, Societe Generale group was involved in writing the Sustainable IT Charter. It aims to limit the environmental impacts of digital technology, share responsible, ethical and inclusive solutions and encourage the emergence of new values.

As a founding signatory of the Poseidon Principles, alongside ten other banks, the Group supports players in the global shipping sector in their energy transition. In particular, by focusing its funding on more environmentally-friendly ships, it contributes to the objective of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2050.

At the COP24 environmental summit of 2018, Societe Generale joined forces with BBVA, BNP Paribas, ING and Standard Chartered to develop methodologies to guide their credit portfolios in line with the objective of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

Societe Generale signed a partnership with The Ocean Cleanup, joining forces with the largest cleanup in history. As a key ‘Mission Partner’, Societe Generale will financially contribute to the international non-profit in developing technologies to clean up plastic pollution in our oceans and stemming the inflow from rivers.

Ensuring the quality of working life, diversity and professional development of our teams is an essential factor in encouraging the commitment of our staff within the bank and in improving performance. Societe Generale is committed to five priority Human Resources areas: 

  1. Corporate culture and ethics principles
  2. Professions and skills
  3. Diversity and inclusion
  4. Performance and compensation
  5. Occupational health and safety


On the road to sustainable mobility

In the mobility sector, the Group is seizing the new opportunities offered by changes in the automotive industry. Ayvens (formerly ALD Automotive I LeasePlan), the Group’s subsidiary and the global sustainable mobility player, is resolutely committed to shaping the future of mobility and lead the way to net zero. This is being achieved by developing a fleet with a growing number of Electric Vehicles (Battery Electric Vehicles – BEV, Plug in Hybrids and Fuel Cell – PHEV), and by acting as a responsible advisor, encouraging clients to reduce the environmental footprint of their fleets.

  • #1 largest multi-brand EV fleet worldwide
  • Aims to significantly reduce the CO2 emissions of its running fleet to less than 90g/km on average by 2026 vs. 112g in 2022
  • Target of 50% of new car deliveries to be electric vehicles in 2026, i.e. 40% will be BEV and 10% will be PHEV, representing a strong increase from 28% in 2022 

Starting from a solid foundation, building on the decades-long legacies of two automotive leasing leaders ALD Automotive and LeasePlan, Ayvens’ ambition is to become the global leader in sustainable mobility, actively supporting economies and clients in the energy transition.