The POMA Foundation emerged from the experience and long-term vision of a company deeply rooted in the cable transportation industry. After 87 years of innovation and development, it was the early 2000s commitment to the city of Medellín, Colombia, that opened the company’s eyes to the societal impact of its projects. This awareness materialized through the initiative of dedicated employees who, even before the equipment’s launch, worked to gain acceptance from local communities. These actions strengthened POMA’s conviction in the importance of its work, emphasizing the need for a social and human approach.
Looking back at the genesis of the creation of the POMA Foundation
Faced with a growing demand to support various causes, the POMA group decided to structure its philanthropic efforts. A young student from Grenoble Ecole de Management revealed, after several months of study, the extent of the company’s actions, which could not be contained in a simple report. This was the starting point to give meaning and structure to these initiatives.
Jean SOUCHAL, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of POMA, reflects on the beginnings of the Foundation: “POMA, a company deeply rooted in France and strongly focused on exports, has always worked to strengthen the ties between its employees, spread between the headquarters and its four specialized French subsidiaries. This dynamic led to the creation of a Foundation that embodies the soul and shared values of the company.
Turning towards skills-based philanthropy, the POMA Foundation has engaged in projects that involve employees from different entities, encouraging them to reflect on the company’s overall mission beyond its commercial purpose.
After consulting its employees, the Foundation decided to concentrate its efforts on four major areas: the environment, sports, disability, and solidarity. Each POMA employee is offered an annual working day dedicated to these projects, ensuring that the initiatives are driven by the employees themselves.”
Four years after its creation, the POMA Foundation has already achieved numerous successes, not only in terms of specific projects but also by uniting employees from different branches of the company around a common goal, thus creating collective and shared value within the POMA group.
The implementation of projects in Colombia has particularly highlighted the need for an inclusive approach, which, while delicate to present, is crucial for the success and relevance of initiatives. In responding to tenders, POMA commits to involve local labor, ensuring the creation of value within the communities where it operates.
“Beyond that, the Foundation is involved in various projects, working with associations to support local development. A striking example is the initiative launched in Chambéry, where the POMA Foundation supports the ‘Ma Chance Moi Aussi’ Association, which accompanies children from the age of 5 to adolescence, addressing the lack of educational and family support. These children benefit from continuous educational attention, whether during weekly evenings, Wednesdays, or holidays.
In this context, the POMA Foundation also extends to broader actions, such as organizing cable car visits to the Bastille for young people who do not have the opportunity to leave their homes, or exploring industrial processes at the Albertville factory. These experiences contribute to the education and cultural openness of the young participants,” explains Jean SOUCHAL.
POMA Foundation: a primarily “collaborative” approach
When discussing the key success factors of these actions carried out with associations, Jean SOUCHAL emphasizes that the POMA Foundation stands out for its collaborative approach to social projects. “Far from top-down management, the Foundation values initiatives driven by the interests and passions of employees. The project selection process is led by a dedicated committee, which evaluates proposals submitted by employees eager to bring an idea to life. These projects are then selected by the Foundation’s board of directors, which is structured into three colleges—Employees, Governance, and External Personalities—to ensure alignment with the four fundamental axes established at the foundation’s creation.”
This participatory approach ensures that the projects selected resonate with the Foundation’s values and meet the aspirations of employees.” Recognizing that priorities and projects change over time, Jean SOUCHAL admits that although the Foundation does not yet have decades of experience, it adapts and supports the constant evolution of initiatives, Thus affirming the dynamics and sustainability of the POMA Foundation’s commitment to social innovation.
A day of solidarity action for each employee
One of the special features of the POMA Foundation is the establishment of a Day of Solidarity Action per employee. Jean SOUCHAL explains in detail what it represents and how it manifests itself concretely within the POMA Foundation:
“The Day of Solidarity Action is a key concept in the social commitment of the POMA Foundation. This initiative focuses on three fundamental elements: a dedicated day, the action itself and the spirit of solidarity. Solidarity in this context echoes an awareness of the social environment and the positive contribution that can be made to significant projects, propelled by the axes defined by the Foundation. The “day” aspect means that the effort is concentrated around a specific day, thus facilitating targeted engagement.
For example, in the world of adapted skiing, the Foundation supports the Ligue Auvergne Rhône Alpes and the departmental committees of Adapted Sport, which take care of athletes with mental or mental disabilities. These athletes are invited to share their experiences, while collaborators of the Foundation sponsor them during this day, promoting an exchange between different universes and a better mutual knowledge. The Foundation has supported these Adapted Sport projects since its inception, with the passionate and sincere participation of its employees, particularly during the Ski Championships, reflecting the flexibility and constant evolution of the associations supported.”
A Foundation to «give meaning»
Regarding the POMA Foundation and its long-term vision, we are interested in the unique perspective as a witness and contributor, of Jean SOUCHAL, in the evolution of the group and its Foundation. It continues to evolve according to the projects that emerge. What is the general direction or the main directions taken by the Foundation?
“The answer to this question is complex. I personally do not consider the Foundation to be my own. It was created as an opportunity to give meaning to our actions. In my opinion, the future of the Foundation is in the hands of the current actors of the company and not of its own governance. I am convinced that the future will be great, because we feel it clearly. When we look at the different companies, we notice that the POMA Foundation has aroused a very strong interest and active participation, which clearly demonstrates an enthusiasm to give meaning to our actions. So I think the future is bright and right in front of us,” concludes Jean Souchal.