I still vividly remember growing up in the backwaters of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with no electricity or running water.
My after-school routine consisted of queuing at the only drinking water supply pipe in our village, where I nudged up against neighbors to collect water in containers for my family’s cooking and drinking needs.
I then strapped these to the back of my bicycle and peddled my way back home. And for washing and cleaning, I got water from the well.
Right before sunset, I continued my routine by lighting up a good old kerosene lamp to bring light to the house for my family, for dinner time and doing homework!
Five decades later, call it fate, I’ve gone from no access to electricity as a child to being the CMO of the world’s leading energy management company.
I guess you could argue it got pretty personal when it comes to fighting for equality – from access to energy, education, healthcare, and economic progress, and regardless of gender, nationality, or whether you come from emerging or developed markets.
According to the United Nations, COVID-19 is likely to reverse progress made in reducing income inequality since the financial crisis in 2008 and two billion people still do not have access to reliable energy.
Sharing a purpose is not just good for the soul
Fighting the good fight, especially for equality, is part of our shared purpose at Schneider Electric.
We empower all to make the most of our energy and resources because we believe access to energy and digital is a basic human right. That is what gets us going in the morning and motivates us to do our best work.
And that is exactly the philosophy behind the Schneider Electric Foundation – to support local communities and individuals but also inspire our employees to make a difference by passionately giving back their time, energy, and skills.
As of 2021, the Schneider Foundation has carried out 100 initiatives in almost 40 countries, collaborated with 85 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and helped train 300,000 people in energy management. We are on track to deliver on our commitment to ensure access to clean, safe and reliable energy to 50 million people by 2050.
And we know, putting sustainability at the heart of our business can increase employee productivity by up to 13% and reduce a company’s turnover rate by 50%.
Fostering a culture of caring and giving with a dose of encouragement
Our volunteering program supported by the Schneider Foundation aims to foster a culture of giving, encouragement, and support for causes that are close to our employees’ hearts.
Our year-round commitment to give back to communities and causes, saw 8,000 employees around the world in 52 countries get together last year on Giving Tuesday, a worldwide initiative that encourages giving in all its forms.
Our employees participated in volunteering activities of their choice, from collecting essentials for the homeless, helping to build sustainable housing, and training young people in underserved communities, while honoring the UN International Volunteer Day on December 5.
It was inspiring to see the grassroots impact these community-based projects can have. And when we consider the positive impact they make, the results are even more impressive. So far, our employees have volunteered over 15,000 days, with the ambition to reach 50,000 by 2025. All driven by a shared purpose.
We are proud of the many powerful examples from around the world – take Australia, where our teams volunteered and donated laptops to Thornlie CoderDojo, who is leading free, community-based programming clubs for young people.
Our teams in Vietnam collected winter clothing and toiletries for the Blue Dragon Foundation, offering practical solutions to the daily problems that children and families face in poverty.
Our Cameroon teams launched a four-month training program, providing learning sessions to young trainees on electrical topics.
There are many ways to support causes that are close to us – and you can always take a pragmatic, step-by-step approach.
Mid-through 2021, together with my team and the Schneider Foundation, we launched the Global Marketing Hearts initiative which enables our 1,500-strong marketing team to volunteer their expertise (from campaign development to digital marketing, web, PR and social media) to support NGOs.
The volunteers have signed up to help good causes in North America, Middle East and Africa, South-East Asia and Europe and are making a difference.
We often see sustainability through the lens of our daily lives – from reducing our air travel, investing in electric cars or ensuring that our home optimizes the energy used.
When each of us makes a sustainability commitment and brings it to life in all our personal and business decisions, it goes a long way to ensure progress and sustainability for future generations.
If you think about it, as the world becomes more digital and borderless, our one and only Planet Earth is just a bigger village. And it truly takes a village to achieve greater equality.
Are you ready to fight the good fight?