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ESB: ElectricAid Initiative

ESB Logo              Electric Aid Logo

Business Type: Energy utility
Location: Head office, East Wall Road, Dublin 3. Locations nationwide
Mission Statement:
'Create a Brighter Future for the customers and communities we serve, by leading the transition to reliable, affordable, low-carbon energy.'
No. of Employees: 7,500

Overview of CSR Initiative

Project team:
ElectricAid: supporting thousands of projects, impacting millions of lives.

Resources required:
Financial support, project evaluation, financial reporting / accountancy skills.

ElectricAid must constantly seek support from new donors & volunteers to sustain the charity well into the future.

ElectricAid has supported thousands of practical projects worldwide since its establishment in 1987. ElectricAid builds a fantastic sense of common purpose for staff with regular fundraisers and coffee mornings taking place in offices all over the country and every June ElectricAid supporters turn out in force for the annual ElectricAid 5k run.

How was/is this initiative promoted?
Annual report, ElectricAid website, twitter, yammer, ESB and EirGrid websites.

Do you report on CSR in the Annual Report?
Yes. See Pages 76 - 80 our Annual Report and Financial Statements 2018

CSR Dimension
Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on CSR 2017-2020identifies 4 core dimensions of CSR – Environment, Community, Workplace and Marketplace.

• Environment - minimising negative environmental impacts
• Community - interaction with your local community partners and organisations
• Workplace - supporting and engaging with your employees
• Marketplace - interaction with your local community partners and organisations.

Please select the dimension(s) that you apply to your CSR Initiative and why?
ElectricAid was founded in 1987, the founding impulse came from the disastrous Ethiopian famine of that time and a desire from staff to make a difference.

However, ElectricAid’s primary goal has always been to focus on Development rather than Disaster, on prevention rather than relief, to work with partners on the ground to empower people and communities to lead their own sustainable projects to bring about real and lasting change for good. It was the belief of the founding committee that supporting communities through self-help would deliver more long term and positive change for communities in need and help prevent reliance on disaster relief.

That said, ElectricAid does respond to crises, most recently in responding to relief efforts following Cyclone Idai in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

ElectricAid, through its network of partners and associate membership of Dochas, keeps closely aligned to global development trends and best practice, ElectricAid currently aligns all projects against the UN SDGS, and indeed the MDGs beforehand.

ElectricAid funds environmentally sustainable programmes promoting renewable energy and directly working to address the following UN SDG’s:
SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy
SDG 13 Climate Action
SDG 14 Life below water
SDG 15 Life on Land

ElectricAid promotes community empowerment through initiatives that benefit entire communities such as W.A.S.H (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) projects in the developing world.

ESB encourages employee volunteering, particularly skills sharing. ElectricAid benefits from the skills and expertise provided by ESB & EirGrid Volunteers without whose time and talent ElectricAid simply wouldn't have the reach it currently has.

ElectricAid only works with trusted partners and co-funds projects worldwide that deliver against the UNSDGs, particularly education & access to clean water projects. All projects must be vetted to ensure they are ethically responsible and to be certain all funds reach their intended cause. We expect the highest standards of transparency from our partners before, during and after each funding.

Business Impact:
How has the CSR initiative benefitted your business and demonstrated a win:win in the short-term and/or long-term?
ESB has always had a strong sense of social purpose or corporate social responsibility and has always supported communities and programmes that enhance Irelands economic and social fabric, helping to bring light and energy to the people it serves, allowing individuals and communities to fulfil their potential in every walk of life and as such, we ensure there are numerous ways for staff to grow their own skillset and get involved with the charity such as:
• Every year a committee is appointed during the AGM with an open invite to staff and pensioners of ESB.
• ElectricAid also has two appointments for Graduates to get involved for a year.
• ElectricAid’s project evaluation meetings are open and guests are welcome to see the evaluation process in action.
• ESB staff carry out site visits. This is challenging for overseas projects but ESB International engineers have often answered the call visiting projects, returning site visit reports back to the ElectricAid committee.
• ElectricAid has over 2,500 regular donors, all serving or retired ESB or EirGrid staff. ElectricAid donors are the most generous, responsive supporters a charity can have. During the recession ElectricAid’s supporters kept up regular donations and time and time again they dig deep to support emergency appeals such as the Philippine Typhoon Appeal, Nepal Earthquake Appeal or the more recent Cyclone Idai Appeal.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
Please identify which SDG goal(s) apply to your CSR initiative.

ElectricAid’s evaluation committee assesses all projects on their ability to address the UN SDGs.

in 2018 ElectricAid supported 125 projects across 35 countries to a value of €1,073,179. Each project reached one or more of the 17 UNSDGs. The vast majority of ElectricAid’s projects fall under:

SDG 1: No Poverty: Via income generating schemes, vocational training or microfinance
SDG 2: Zero Hunger: Via humanitarian aid, irrigation and sustainable agriculture projects

See examples of ElectricAid funded programmes below:

Sowing the seeds of change in Ethiopia

Ghana makes history as the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate Trachoma

Image 4.2 re Electic Aid

Pictured Above: Concern staff with help from the Malawi Defense Forces assess the damage to communities along the river Shire in Southern Malawi. This village has been completely submerged. Photo: Gavin Douglas/ Concern Worldwide. Malawi, March 2019.

What did you learn from your experience of creating and implementing a CSR initiative?
The high esteem and willing support from all corners of the company towards ElectricAid is impressive. ElectricAid forms part of ESB’s cultural DNA and has been supported by the Company and staff alike since it’s foundation in 1987. The key learning from the company has been to work in partnership with our people, their skills and their compassion to respond in an effective way to emergency appeals and longer-term development work worldwide. This goodwill and partnership led approach has sustained ElectricAid for just over 30 years and plans to last well into the future.

What advice would you give a business starting on their CSR Journey?
ElectricAid has been the cornerstone of ESB’s CSR agenda, having been founded and in operation before ESB or EirGrid’s formal CSR programmes came into being. In this way, ElectricAid has shaped ESB’s CSR programme by acting as a template for ESB’s corporate fund – The ESB Energy for Generations Fund which support projects working to fight homelessness, prevent suicide and promote education access and support.

Both partners encourage employee volunteering, particularly skills sharing and ElectricAid benefits from the skills and expertise provided by ESB & EirGrid Volunteers without whose time and talent ElectricAid simply wouldn't have the reach it currently has.

CSR, regardless of the specific initiative, affords our people the opportunity to bring their whole-selves to the workplace increasing employee engagement and further affords ESB the opportunity to demonstrate, in real terms, it’s values and commitment to the communities where we live and where we work.

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Case Study provided by:
May 2019