Mario Ruiz-Tagle: Equality in all fields as a stimulus for business growth

    social commitment

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By Mario Ruiz-Tagle*

The pandemic brought us many lessons, accelerating processes of change and innovation, both in technologies and in relation to society. We need to reinforce the understanding that companies must have a social commitment beyond their core business. From initiatives in favor of society, such as the generation of quality jobs, robust investments, economic and sustainable development, promotion of diversity and social responsibility, besides several other relevant actions for the country and the world, we can position ourselves as protagonists of social transformation. This is what we cultivate, for example, at Neoenergia, where we have more than 38 thousand direct employees, including our own and outsourced, and more than 100 thousand indirect employees all over the country. The commitment to our more than 15 million customers, society, and shareholders is translated not only into our business, but also through social actions and good practices cultivated throughout our trajectory.

We have a bold investment plan for the coming years. In 2021 alone we will invest approximately R$10 billion in the expansion of our networks, in the quality of service, in new transmission lines, and in the construction of wind farms and photovoltaic plants. In this context, diversity is one of the most important paths, and consequently inclusion, democratization, equality, and equity are our priorities when we talk about opportunities. The incentives to these themes and to respect differences are based on our daily actions, such as the Diversity Program we conduct, aiming at a more inclusive, diverse, empowering, and prejudice-fighting work environment.

Moreover, to reinforce our commitment to the UN's Agenda 2030, especially the Sustainable Development Goals, among them SDG 5, which deals with Gender Equality, we have just announced an unprecedented support program for women's sports, exclusive to the Brazilian Women's Soccer Team. We are the first company to exclusively support the women's national team and the Brazilian Championship for these athletes, which is now called "Neoenergia Women's Brasileirão".

We know a lot about electrical grids and power transmission, and now we are drawing another invisible but equally strong network to unite all those who contribute to the advancement of equality in an area as impactful as sport. We share with these players the same values such as effort, overcoming, professionalism, and teamwork. We believe in equality in all fields. It is a basic right and one of the essential foundations for building a fairer and more prosperous world for all.

The initiative reflects the support and promotion of transformations to move towards the ideal of society we seek, encouraging empowerment and autonomy to all groups. These are principles that guide the company, and gender equity is an essential part of our path. Diversity is encouraged and promoted among Neoenergia's employees. Today, 43% of our corporate teams are composed of women, and in the Executive Office, they represent 44%.

In an industry still predominantly represented by men, our ESG practices represent what drives us to be better every day, as a company and as change agents. Through the Neoenergia Institute, we conduct projects such as the Women's Impactô - which trains NGO leaders throughout Brazil, enabling the continuity of impact projects and businesses, and the Inspirar (Inspire) Award - recognition focused on cultural and artistic initiatives led by women in communities in Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco. In the states where our distributors are located, we created the Electricians' School, a stimulus for female participation with classes exclusively for training female electricians, and with the challenge of reducing the male predominance in the profession. The project was recognized by WeEmpower, a program of UN Women together with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the European Union to stimulate good practices in companies. We know that training and financial independence are one of the main forms of empowerment and, therefore, promoting equal conditions in the access to the labor market is essential.

It is important to emphasize that these actions are not only aimed at creating momentary opportunities, but rather at consolidating a principle of the company that seeks to be increasingly diverse, inclusive, and capable of attracting and retaining the best talent. We believe in more inclusive selection processes, in the development of leaders who are aware of diversity, in actions for empowerment, and in fighting prejudice.

Neoenergia's Equal Opportunity and Conciliation Policy does not allow for discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, gender, marital status, ideology, political opinions, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or any other personal, physical or social condition among professionals. To build this culture, it is fundamental that the company explores and discusses the topic freely and appropriately among employees. The internal audience is our main thermometer in this process. It is up to the organizations to inform, clarify, raise awareness, and allow them to feel comfortable to be who they are, with freedom and welcome.

We have a duty to embrace differences, to understand that they contribute to our evolution, and that promoting an inclusive and diverse environment benefits the entire corporate ecosystem. Generating opportunities in an inclusive way is, without a doubt, what we want for our country. At Neoenergia, I can say that this is one of our priorities, as well as the expressive investments for energy transition and clean energy growth. Together we are able to transform our environment and inspire other agents to contribute even more to achieve what the world longs for.

*Article written by Mario Ruiz-Tagle, CEO of Neoenergia

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