Fighting for Inclusion: What social legacy can we expect from the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024?
What social legacy will the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 leave behind, both in tangible and emblematic terms? We put the question to Marie Barsacq, Director of Impact and Legacy at Paris 2024, and to Nicolas Pouchain, Director of Talent Acquisition, Diversity Equity & Inclusion at Sanofi France.
The ambitions for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 are very high. You aspire to be the most inclusive Games in history. How do you intend to achieve that?
Marie Barsacq: We want to be a force for good, so that there is no turning back. To this end, we are working in several areas to ensure that the Games are an inclusive and mutually supportive event.
Firstly, we have made strong commitments on disability. This is a priority for us, because France will be hosting the (Summer) Paralympic Games for the first time. (France previously hosted the Winter Paralympic Games in Albertville in 1992.) Our aim is threefold: to provide the best possible welcome for people with disabilities, to encourage their access to sport, and to advance their cause in France.
We are also extending our initiatives to other groups, particularly LGBTQ+. As such, in partnership with the Fier Foundation, we are pleased to announce the opening of a Pride House. This is a place where athletes will be able to celebrate, meet and share ideas.
Finally, we are keen to promote equality between men and women through sport and, to this end, have worked with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure that the Paris 2024 Games achieve full gender parity. There will be as many women as men participating, and this has been combined with considerable visibility for women's events. To raise the profile of sport in our society, and women's sport specifically, we need role models. And there are no better role models than athletes. Champions Estelle Mossely and Sarah Ourahmoune have encouraged generations of women to take up women's boxing. Their achievements in Rio have boosted the number of women boxers.
Nicolas Pouchain, Sanofi has signed up as a premium partner of Paris 2024. How do you see the notion of legacy at Sanofi?
Legacy is not something that can be imposed, or only considered in terms of the Paris 2024 Games.
Director of Talent Acquisition, Diversity Equity & Inclusion at Sanofi France
Nicolas Pouchain: I think it's important to remember that we've been working on diversity issues for several years now and have developed the concept in several major areas. Sanofi was one of the first big companies to launch a Disabilities Agreement in 2006, which has now reached its fifth phase. The latest Agreement contains measures such as job retention and the recruitment of people with disabilities.
Marie Barsacq: Within the Paris 2024 committee, we have made sure that we are as inclusive as possible. And we have urged our sponsors to be as inclusive as possible, too. In addition, we have set up an endowment fund to support projects with access targets. We know that 85% of public sports facilities are primarily used by men. To this end, we support organisations that offer sporting activities to women with no access to them and provide childcare, and coaches for work out areas. Since 2020, 38 million euros (of which 14 million committed and 24 million raised from co-funders) have supported more than 1,050 impact projects, with over 3 million direct beneficiaries.
Nicolas Pouchain: The next priority is including future generations. Since 2015, 17000 young people have joined our workforce on work training schemes and internships, thanks to our diversity and inclusion policy, which includes Place d'Avenir. The figures were highest in the army, the construction industry, and the health sector. In 2023, 2200 of them came to the meetings. This adds to the legacy that we aim to develop and expand, particularly in view of our partnership with Paris 2024.
We have set up mentoring sessions with coaches and athletes, including Alizée Agier (karate), Amandine Buchard (judo), Morgen Caillaud (table tennis), Dany Dann (breaking), Nantenin Keita (para-athletics) and Sarah M'Barek (football). Young people want to overcome the obstacles and find a job. And who better to help them than Olympic or Paralympic athletes?
How will you make sure that these initiatives continue after the Paris 2024 Games or after your commitments at Sanofi?
Nicolas Pouchain: We currently support around 1,600 work-apprentice students annually. As you can imagine, we can't take them all on. Our ambition is to work on the conversion rate. It's currently 24%, but that's not enough. For the past two years, we've been working with Paris 2024 on an “ecosystem” approach. We want to help the mature work-apprentice students get a job with the VSEs/SMEs partners we work with, but also with the other major partners of Paris 2024, such as Orange and Carrefour, among others.
Our aim is to support existing projects. There are solutions, but they lack the resources necessary to work on a larger scale and to benefit a wider public.
Director of Impact and Legacy at Paris 2024
Marie Barsacq: Famosport, which provides sporting activities with childcare for women, has only been able to offer three weekly sessions until now. With the support of the Paris 2024 Endowment Fund, it has now recruited a full-time member of staff to offer slots throughout the week.
We try to put organisations in touch with local authorities, which can be attractive sources of funding.
I would like to add that we monitor projects all over France supporting disability, gender equality and diversity. The places hosting the events are given additional financing, and if the local authorities provide funding, we match it.
Social legacy is often a by-word for the infrastructures left behind in the aftermath of the Games. What about Paris 2024?
Marie Barsacq: I mentioned earlier the importance of role models in encouraging women to take up sport. 70% of women do not meet the World Health Organisation's recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, compared with 40% of men. We are therefore working to set up infrastructures inside schools. For example, we have suggested that school playgrounds should be given an active design. It's a very simple layout, with markings on the ground and small apparatus that caters for all children. When you offer activities outside of football, it's easier for girls to take them up.
With the issue of social inclusion comes economic inclusion. We want the Games to benefit small businesses, SSEs (Social and Solidarity Entrepreneurship) and jobseekers. Which is why we are in the process of purchasing 2.7 billion euros worth of goods and services. Today, 75% of our contracts are granted to VSEs/SMEs. Of these, more than 180 are social economy companies, and over 130 suppliers are in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis.
These contracts are likely to have an inclusive aspect. Our scoring criteria for selecting the contract winners include an all-encompassing and supportive dimension. When a company or sponsor are due to provide a service, we give them a list of the companies they can partner with.
We are beginning to see the development of consortia between small and large companies. Right now, we are supporting the progress for a successful and lasting outcome. And local authorities are at the forefront to observe the actions taken, to make sure that progress persists beyond the Games.