ESCP student and activist Grégoire Cazcarra shares his choice to become a leader in his community and explains what this generation of activists means for the future of work.
Over the past few years, civic and community activism have played an increasingly important role in my life. In June 2017, at the age of 17, I founded Les Engagés, a citizen movement based in Bordeaux, to bring young people back into the discussion of ideas and public life.
For almost four years now, we have been organising debates and meetings with entrepreneurs, community leaders, academics and elected officials across France. Our goal is to motivate more young people to speak out, defend their beliefs and engage in activism.
Writing to tell the story of our generation
As an extension of these commitments, writing gradually emerged as a necessity: not only to tell the story of our path to activism, but more importantly, to motivate other young people to engage in activism too. Along with Léna Van Nieuwenhuyse, my co-author and founder of the Pass’Politique outreach media, at the age of 21, we became the youngest authors to be published by Editions VA.
Through our essay, Génération Engagée – prefaced by Sarah El Haïry, French Minister for Youth, and includes an afterword written by lawyer Bertrand Périer – we sought to share the key moments that have forged the collective identity of our generation, from terrorist attacks to the fire at Notre-Dame, to give voice to 18 inspiring activists and, last but not least, to advance concrete proposals for building a truly “activist society”.
Writing gradually emerged as a necessity: not only to tell the story of our path to activism, but more importantly, to motivate other young people to engage in activism too.
Companies of tomorrow will be socially and environmentally conscious or will cease to exist
Among the points raised in the publication, the involvement of the private sector is very important to me. Companies, from small-to-medium businesses to multinational corporations, all have a key role to play.
Those that do not include social, community and environmental issues in their purpose and core values are doomed to disappear sooner or later. Being an entrepreneur today means having the opportunity to take part in politics indirectly – which amounts to nothing short of making a tangible impact on society.
That is why I personally chose to attend a management school after my initial training in the humanities and social sciences, in spite of my literary background. Because I profoundly believe in the power of the private sector and the business world to help advance society and lead practical initiatives to serve the common good.
A generation in search of meaning
All the surveys show that the “search for meaning” in the corporate world is an increasingly important priority for young people. The young generation has reversed its order of priorities: even before salary or career prospects, their primary concern is now well-being at work and whether a company’s values aligns with their own.
The young generation is particularly committed to environmental consciousness, as evidenced by the success of the “Manifesto for an Ecological Awakening” shared by thousands of students on LinkedIn a few months ago, in which they asked companies to “play their role in this major transformation” and “lead the change we need to finally move toward a sustainable society.”
The development of companies referred to as “purpose-driven” authorised in France by the PACTE law enacted in 2019, is another sign of these changing attitudes.
If today’s companies want to attract top talent, it is no longer enough to simply offer a high salary or prestigious opportunities for career development. They must also “embody” progress, demonstrate their utility for society and the sincerity of their commitment.
Being an entrepreneur today means having the opportunity to take part in politics indirectly – which amounts to nothing short of making a tangible impact on society.
Taking part in activism
Activism is, more than ever, at the heart of our personal and professional lives. Whether it’s the community organisation just down the street, an international NGO or a social or environmental start-up: no one form of activism is loftier than another.
All that matters is giving each young person the opportunity to find the form of activism that most closely matches their hopes and aspirations.
This is the message I’ve been defending for four years as the head of the Les Engagés movement and that Lina and I wanted to convey in this book: taking part in activism is not just adding a line to your resume or on LinkedIn, it is first and foremost getting out of your comfort zone, gaining experience and maturity, meeting people you’ll never forget and sharing your drive for activism with others!