Corporate Social Responsibility at E&C

A LETTER FROM OUR CEO

BenedictDear reader,

For many years, I was walking around with ideas on what our company could do in terms of corporate social responsibility. And now, and to be honest with a push in the back after some requests of clients, we’ve finally made the time to define this in a policy. Because our company is out-growing the excuse that we’re small enough to practice good corporate citizenship without having it written down.

Also, it’s not a coincidence that this policy is written during the COVID-year. For E&C, as for every company, the pandemic was an exercise in corporate citizenship. How could you organize your activities and save your economic model without running too much risk for your employees, their families and society at large? For me personally, the decisions on remote work, continuity plans and guidance for employees that are confronted with positive tests were a sharp reminder of the responsibility we all have for the well-being of other living beings than ourselves. 

As a master in philosophy that wrote a master’s thesis on climate change, I’ve always been sensitive about the ethical dimensions of doing business. On a personal level, I am strongly motivated in life by a sense of duty to make the best out of my talents, and I believe that a company is an excellent instrument to give people the opportunity of achieving that life goal. In that sense, I believe that the first moral imperative of a company is to create added value. To make the best out of the talents of your team and seeing that best expressed in terms of turnover or profitability growth is nothing to be ashamed of.

But as the liberty of the individual ends where the liberty of the other individuals starts, the drive towards value-creation and profit-making cannot be unlimited. Capitalism’s miracle is that the selfishness of everyone results in progress for society. But it can’t go unfettered. Companies interact with people, the planet and that abstract called ‘society’. And this creates a whole range of supplementary moral imperatives. This CSR policy puts in place the principles and practices to balance E&C´s value-creation imperative with our responsibilities towards people, planet and society. In a talk I held with a young team member regarding how he felt about the job, this person, in the typical way that we all look for the meaning of our presence on this planet, told me: ‘what change do I make by helping companies to buy energy?’ Well, to start with, you create value and that in itself is good. If worldwide GDP grows by a few tens of a percentage less, it’s the poorest among us that suffer most. And however small we are, by doing a good job we contribute to the never-ending multiplication of wealth that is behind the growing GDP figures. Moreover, our work facilitates the energy transition, which has a huge impact on the important issue of climate change. And lastly, this CSR policy lays the seeds for becoming something more than just a company. This company received and receives a lot from the societies in which it is embedded. In this policy, we launch a range of initiatives to give something back to those societies and the world. In that sense, the execution of this policy will give E&C extra goals on top of the enrichment of its employees and shareholders.

I personally feel very much engaged towards the goal of donating to initiatives to eradicate energy poverty. Two summers ago, I travelled to Namibia with my family. We visited a Himba village. I was intrigued by the little solar panels on top of the huts. They were used to power mobile phones that were used by farmers to check prices in the different markets where they could sell their produce. Which means that they can select the best deals without having to travel the long distances to all these marketplaces. This convinced me more than ever that bringing renewable energy to the poorest people on this planet can bring a huge change to their lives.

I want to thank everyone that contributed to the creation of this CSR policy. And I want to offer it to everyone at E&C as a gift, a gift to give an extra dimension to your professional life.

Benedict De Meulemeester
CEO and chairman of the board of E&C 

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A picture taken of Himba village in Namibia by Benedict. If you zoom in extremely on the middle hut, you will see the miniscule solar panel used to power a mobile phone.

CSR Highlights

Company

Our company

  • We work by our core values: flexibility, independence, transparency, empowerment and caring
  • Our ethical charter is the cornerstone of our internal training
  • We have in place non-opportunistic practices to safeguard anti-corruption at E&C
  • We have a strict cyber-security policy and procedures
People

Our people

  • We care for our employees and want them to feel positive and are proactive in ensuring this
  • Our diversity is important to us. Part of nurturing this is to learn from each other and promote equality – initiatives are regularly launched
  • Wellbeing, especially stress management, is a focus and steps are taken to ensure the health and safety of our people
  • Personal development, performance and salary are actively fostered to ensure a sense of value for everyone at E&C 
Planet

Our planet

  • Our responsibility to the planet is two-fold:
    • we are in the crux of an energy transition where smarter energy for us needs to mean a better world. We assist our clients in getting there
    • internally, we look to improving practices including greening mobility, materials and waste, using initiatives on a local level 
Society

Our society

  • A big part of what we do at E&C is share knowledge. We use this drive to help our wider communities; by hiring interns, volunteering at universities, etc.
  • Working in the energy industry, and with such large volumes of energy usage, we feel strongly about energy poverty and want to do what we can to help eradicate it. Therefore, we have decided to help fund an NGO, Solar Sister, who activity works in areas of the world particularly affected by energy poverty.

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Solar Sister is an NGO dedicated to the eradication of energy poverty in remote communities in Nigeria and Tanzania. Solar Sister tackles energy poverty in two ways:

  1. They provide products best suited for improving the lives of individuals and families by using the energy most available to them: solar. These products include lamps, solar home systems and water pumps – things that make a difference to education, safety, health, and independence.
  2. They provide a network of women-centered entrepreneurs, women who live in the communities they are looking to aid. Solar sister provides training, mentorship and support to these women and thus help to create economic stability and empowerment within these communities. 

We are proud to be partnering with Solar Sister in our aim to tackle energy poverty - together we not only help our clients in procuring smarter energy for a better world, but we also ensure we leave no one behind. To find out more about this organization, visit our news page: Solar Sister partnership


Request a full copy of our CSR policy document here

Diversity awareness

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On the back of an internal survey on how our employees feel about diversity and inclusion at work, we took some time out together to discuss the outcomes and to bring ideas to the table on how to tackle discrimination and stereotyping.

An eco switch

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We have reduced our every day plastic consumption by replacing our water bottles with reusable water bottles from Flaske for every employee. 

Collecting for those in need

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As part of our fundraising drive on the run-up to the holidays, we are collecting for food banks in Spain, and for flood relief in Germany.

Caps collection

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Our Madrid office has signed up to collet bottle caps for the Seur Foundation, who recycle the caps to raise money for children with serious health problems.

Movie night for awareness

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During our pandemic lockdown, we got together virtually for a movie night. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind raises awareness of energy poverty and kicked off a discussion about this topic.

Beach clean-up

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This was our first team ‘Weekend Strolls and Litter Patrol’ with the Valencian office. We collected a scary amount of plastic pieces, bottle caps and cigarette butts.

Warmste week Auction

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Our Belgian office got into the seasonal spirit for Warmste week with the topic this year of ´being able to be who you are´. Auction items included nail treatments, handmade toys and clothes, a photoshoot, homemade food... we raised an amazing €1000 for this charity.

 

Electric cars for the future

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As part of our mobility policy, we are switching our corporate petrol cars for electric ones. So far, Belgium is the first, with The Netherlands soon to follow. 

E&C advent calendar

Advent

Our advent calendar has been an amazing success this year, promoting CSR topics such as wellness (team building and fitness), donations (both blood and money for charity), and diversity (this season is so much more than Christmas, with 25 days being celebrated across 16 countries at E&C). 

Fundraising success

Steptember

Our Melbourne office took part in Australia's STEPtember challenge to raise money to support people living with cerebral palsy.  By the end of the month, the team walked over 900k steps. With individual donations being matched by E&C, they raised a total of AU$1042!

 

6.5km marathon

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Our Madrid team took part in ´Carrera de las empresas´ this year, a race that raises money for cancer research.

Corporate e-bikes

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Improving our mobility options gets easier every year. We now have several e-bikes in our offices – contributing both to a greener world and happier, healthier employees.

 

First Audit

We completed our first audit this summer, which gave us a valuable benchmark on which to build. The type of areas we covered were:

Our company

  • Sustainable profitability - salary benchmarks
  • Sustainable profitability - competitive procurement
  • Corporate values

Our people

  • Personal development – training
  • Diversity
  • Ergonomics
  • Stress management
  • Workplace safety

Our planet

  • Energy transition
  • Mobility
  • Energy efficiency of offices
  • Green procurement
  • Waste management

Our societies

  • Internships
  • Guest lecturing
  • Volunteering
  • NGO on eradication of energy poverty
  • 86% experience diversity at E&C as ‘POSITIVE’
  • 14% experience it as ‘NEUTRAL
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Waste management
Which of the following waste factions are collected separately and submitted for reuse or recycling?
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% of internships done by students from developing countries, recently arrived migrants, students that pay for their studies themselves, students with a disability

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We will upload our first CSR report here as soon as it is available.

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