Talent Awards Winners’ Stories, part 2: EcoTree

The Talent Awards is a unique ceremony that rewards the teams behind the best scaling stories of the French Tech ecosystem. Taking place at the France Digitale Day in Paris every September, the Talent Awards reward startups in various categories and highlights their stories to prove that tech can be impactful and sustainable all the while being a successful business, and thus supports positive change in and outside the ecosystem.

In 2021, altogether eight scale-ups were rewarded in categories such as Global, Diversity and Future of Work. In this article series we interview each of the winners and ask them to share their key to their success.

The Governance category of the Talent Awards celebrates the story of a team who have successfully designed an inclusive decision making process and a flat organization. It rewards in particular the HR and Finance teams and/or the Executive Committee.

The 2021 winner of the category was EcoTree. In the words of Bruno Cattan, the representative of the jury for this category from Institut Polytechnique de Paris:

“Ecotree fights climate change by enabling investment in trees through a responsible and innovative carbon methodology. We have selected them as the winner because they combine the agility of a small company with governance principles that are aligned on best practices in this field.

For example: They are B-Corp certified; they promote and implement transparency through external certification and an independent ethical committee; and they have set up a strong CSR policy. 

And finally they have replaced « boilerplate » corporate values by a clear mission statement, considering that this implicitly defines the values of those who join them.”

EcoTree is a forest management company involved in the planting and maintenance of forests in France, as well as the protection of forest biodiversity thanks to funding from individuals and companies. They own and nurture forest land, so anyone can buy & own the trees to contribute to the planet’s vital capture of CO2. When the tree has accomplished its growth, it is cut and sold for high-quality timber at minimal impact to the forest and all the revenue goes to the owner with a yearly rate of approx. 2%.

We asked the EcoTree team some questions about their win and their best practices.

Why do you think you deserved the Governance Award?

EcoTree places great importance on governance issues, in order to create a positive impact: we treat our social and environmental impact as a primary measure of success for our business.

To keep up with this mission, we have constituted and regularly call upon an independent ethical committee that ensures that our actions correspond to our will to have a positive impact on the planet and society.

In order to ensure the transparency of our activity, we publicly publish every year our annual management report, which gives an account of the actions carried out in our forests.

Some words about your win?

We consider that the award for our governance granted by France Digitale, before being an achievement, is above all a step on the way. 

We had thought a lot about how we could improve our governance during our B Corp labeling; we were attentive to the points on which our governance was shared and transparent. The B Corp label, in addition to rewarding our governance among other elements, also indicates the points on which we can progress so that our company is truly the most efficient possible in terms of governance.

What should our tech ecosystem replicate from your “scaling story”?

In our opinion, the success of EcoTree lies in the fact that it has succeeded in keeping the fundamental mission of the company in mind, which is the preservation and the ecological and economic valorisation of the forest and biodiversity. As we grow up, caught up in the daily rush of our missions, we can tend to lose sight of our initial objective, our primary mission. The fact that we have an independent ethics committee that ensures that we keep our mission in sight, and the fact that we have clients, individuals and companies, who expect us to report on the good sustainable management of forests, are indispensable means of remaining ourselves and of federating our teams as we grow.

How did you structure your team / process to create these best practices?

Since the beginning of EcoTree, governance has been shared. The fact that the co-founders are six in number has already made it possible to distribute the decision-making centers among several people. As EcoTree grew, it became necessary to structure the decision making process and extend it to the largest number of employees. Meetings of the executive committee, the management committee (with team managers), the board of directors and the ethics committee are set at regular intervals to discuss the company’s strategic orientations and human resources. To ensure that governance is open and inclusive, we establish feedback processes with the entire company, regardless of their contract. We are vigilant about transparency, with employees through regular and exhaustive consultation meetings on the company’s projects, and with clients by allowing them to follow, almost directly, all the actions we carry out in the forest.

Where are you now? What are your current challenges? And what profiles are you looking for?

EcoTree has great plans for the future, thanks to the growth of our forestry activities, made possible by our ever-increasing number of individual and corporate clients: more than 1,000 companies work with us, as well as 50,000 individual clients.

To support our numerous projects, we are currently recruiting! Business, tech and communication profiles. Do not hesitate to apply to us, there are great things to do in favor of forests and biodiversity!

Learn more about EcoTree:

The Governance category was sponsored by Institut Polytechnique de Paris, a public higher education and research institution comprising five prestigious French engineering Schools: École Polytechnique, ENSTA Paris, ENSAE Paris, Télécom Paris and Télécom SudParis. 

We asked them why they chose to sponsor the Governance category: “At Institut Polytechnique de Paris, we educate future scientists, engineers, and leaders for tomorrow. We do hope that some of them will become digital leaders and positively impact society too. Now, beyond science and technology, mission, transparency, CSR, and inclusive management, are fundamental pillars for technology companies to bring positive impact. This is why we have chosen to sponsor the « Governance » award.”