Talent Awards Winners’ Stories, part 1: EcoVadis

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 Global category of the Talent Awards celebrates a success story of the international reach and/or expansion of a French scale-up. It rewards in particular the Business and Operations teams of the companies.

The 2021 winner of the category was EcoVadis. In the words of Peter Zemsky, the representative of the jury for this category: “We were impressed to see how this category gets more and more competitive each year as France goes from strength to strength as the birthplace of international scaleups. EcoVadis was a standout in a strong field this year. As the world’s most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings, they are a global leader in their category. They employ over 50 nationalities across 13 country offices and well exemplifies France’s emerging leadership in new ventures with purpose.” 

EcoVadis provides business sustainability ratings, intelligence and collaborative performance improvement tools for global supply chains. Backed by a powerful technology platform and a global team of domain experts, EcoVadis’ actionable sustainability scorecards provide detailed insight into environmental, social and ethical risks across 200 purchasing categories and 160 countries. They have a “beyond compliance” model that empowers companies to transform sustainability into a performance approach, to protect their brands, foster transparency and innovation, accelerate growth and drive positive impact at scale.

Since their founding in 2007, they have grown to impressive numbers. The team of EcoVadians is now over 900 strong, with English as their common denominator. They have offices offices in France, USA, Canada, Poland, Germany, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Mauritius, Spain, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. They have reached gender parity, and have 51% women in the company. In 2013, they made their commitment public by signing and becoming a member of the French Diversity Charter (Charte de la Diversité).

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

Why do you think you deserved the Global Award?

Sustainability challenges cross all international borders, they span all industries, and touch people of every dimension of diversity. In order to deploy our strategy of using “procurement spend” as a force for good in supply chains – which typically span 160+ countries and hundreds of industry categories, we must act globally.  It was an absolute necessity to have a global vision from the start, and at every stage of growth, we have strived to match the geographic scope and business of our customers with an equally diverse team.

Some words about your win?

We are honored to be recognized among such a strong field of candidates within France Digitale. This community has such an incredible group of diverse success stories of scale-ups, we are inspired by those we are following and learning from, and as well hope we can provide some inspiration and best practices for the new and emerging startups and entrepreneurs — both within France, and elsewhere.

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

Have a global vision, and a stair-step approach to achieve it.

  • We use English as the universal common language for the company and recruit and hire accordingly. Having a common language is also great for inclusion.
  • We actively cultivate our company culture, with training and regular communication on our core values.
  • We recruit for cultural fit, adaptability, and diversity.
  • We communicate regularly on our vision, company progress and initiatives through quarterly all-hands meetings. In our company “compass” and measures of success, we balance four pillars – shareholders, employees, customers, and planet and society (the impact we are creating).
  • We created a structured onboarding training program, with the inaugural session featuring Co-CEOs giving the company overview and business model to welcome new recruits.
  • We have invested ‘ahead’ of our market entry, getting people on the ground in-country — or experts in place in the case of new product areas — to listen to the market, customers, and prospects. This accelerates the feedback / iteration loop to adapt the product/service, offering, and approach to the opportunity.

For example when entering the US market, both Co-CEOs moved to New York for over two years.  Lastly, we developed within the team the discipline of growing organically for the first nine years.

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

We are structured in functional departments (Finance, HR, Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, IT/Engineering, Evaluation/Analysis), with an executive committee and governance structure with Think Tanks focused on market and technical strategy, and various commissions for quality control, risk, etc. More recently, we pivoted our “Frontline” customer-facing teams to a regional approach, with regional leadership and teams taking ownership of their targets, actions, resources and reporting.

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

We continue to fuel the growth of our company by recruiting new talent globally, with 350 recruitments for 2022. We are mainly looking for tech profiles as we scale our investments in technology and AI, as well as sustainability analysts and customer success managers to increase our presence in key geographies. All our open positions are available on our website: https://ecovadis.com/careers/

We offer an exciting, truly international opportunity to build a career while positively impacting the environmental and social practices of companies around the world. We promote flexibility and agility at EcoVadis, therefore remote working is possible.

Learn more about the scale-up that is helping other companies become more sustainable and responsible on a global scale:

The Global category was sponsored by INSEAD, the leading international business school. They are once again proud to sponsor the Global category. Global scaling is not easy and they especially like that this award recognizes the skill and capabilities of the business and operation talent driving the strategy and execution. Given the importance of scale for tech ventures, developing and celebrating talent adept at international reach and expansion is critical for the French ecosystem to realize its considerable potential.