By Sabiene Heindl, Director of the Energy Charter
Two years ago, I was asked by my then CEO, Rosemary Sinclair of Energy Consumers Australia to collaborate with the energy industry on a project about customer orientation. The Energy Charter, as it was dubbed, was undefined. Nobody knew the “what”, but we all knew intensely that the “why” was due to plummeting public trust levels, and that the “how” demanded consumer and industry co-design.
Fast forward to today. As Director of the Energy Charter, I work with 18 companies across the energy industry on achieving a vision of “together, deliver energy for a better Australia”. This necessarily involves putting customers at the centre of everything we do. Through voluntary disclosures on commitments to five core principles which are assessed by an Independent Accountability Panel, the signatories to the Energy Charter are bringing a strong dose of sunlight to their culture and conduct.
Yet, the Energy Charter is much more than simply disclosures. Rather, it’s a vehicle for conversations and collaboration aimed at better customer outcomes with a collective of changemakers that is growing stronger every day. The term changemaker was coined by the social entrepreneurship organisation, Ashoka. It means one who desires change in the world and, by gathering knowledge and resources, makes that change happen. That collective is expanding to involve industry, consumer representatives, regulators and government.
At our last face-to-face gathering in EnergyAustralia’s offices in Melbourne, the Industry Working Group reflected on the change that energy businesses, both individually and collectively have contributed to through the vehicle of the Energy Charter. It’s early days in the journey, however we shared candidly on the high and low lights of pulling together 30-page disclosures on how customer orientated our businesses were, through a lens of authenticity. We looked at the signatory disclosures and derived inspiration on the cultural change that was underway in the energy sector and how we could leverage that rich information and insights to propel us towards better customer outcomes. And last, but not least, we heard from external guests Ciara Sterling, CEO of Thriving Communities Partnership and Cris Parker, Director of The Ethics Alliance about the enablers that will help us as changemakers.
Throughout this work, we importantly sought to embody the values of the Energy Charter:
- Be invested, make a difference.
- Listen, learn, improve.
- Think big, be bold.
This is the spirit and intent that we bring to the work of the Energy Charter.
As Ciara Sterling highlighted, there are many enablers of change, but perhaps the most important is the individual decision that we as humans make to be responsible for creating and enacting positive change in world. The Energy Charter is a vehicle for inspiring individuals to choose to contribute to better customer outcomes. And through the values of the Energy Charter, we can connect with others that are doing the same thing. Everyday our collective of changemakers is growing and expanding. As 2020 approaches, we are building momentum for this movement and welcoming positive change in the energy system for the benefit of all Australians.