Sonnedix is a global solar independent power producer (IPP) with more than a decade of developing, building, and operating solar PV plants across the world. In 2016, the company’s General Counsel, Marissa Corda, created their ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) team pushing the integration of responsible policies into the business to ensure a long-lasting impact on the environments and communities within their operations. Two years later, Dijana Vlaisavljevic joined the company, leading the ESG team and developing a strong strategy to ensure Sonnedix can properly measure and report progress, holding themselves accountable for their sustainability commitments.
Dijana Vlaisavljevic – Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Manager, UK
A FEMALE-LED ESG TEAM
Given my background in engineering, I’ve always moved within a male-dominated corporate world. When I first started in the energy sector, the landscape was not much different; I would be seeing more women present in teams, but very few at managerial levels. In addition to a strong commitment towards sustainable practices, Sonnedix’s determination to work on diversity and inclusion in the workplace is what also attracted me to pursue a career with them. Having a female manager who holds a senior executive role in the business and is incredibly passionate about sustainability herself, was very
refreshing for me. I was supported and empowered by her in my new role in much the same manner as I hope to inspire and develop women on the ESG team that I manage. I believe that, in traditionally male dominated business sectors, having female role models who thrive in senior management positions,
paves the way and is inspiring for other women to reach high in the industry. The full flexibility and trust that was extended to me and my team in Sonnedix to conceptualize and drive the ESG agenda, in my view, contributed to a very successful implementation of our ambitious ESG strategy and external recognition of our work. For example, a global sustainability benchmark GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) has recognized Sonnedix as ESG leader in the solar sector for four consecutive years. This success is a testament of the dedication and commitment to sustainability by the hole of Sonnedix’s team, and most prominently the ESG team that until very recently was comprised olely of women.
BEYOND GENDER: MULTICULTURAL RICHNESS
In addition to having the opportunity to work with and learn from other ambitious and talented women on the team, in my opinion, the key to the success of our ESG team also lies in the fact that we are of all ages and come from different cultural backgrounds. This holistic and demonstrable approach to diversity and inclusion is what makes the team, and Sonnedix, uniquely positioned to successfully drive our sustainability outcomes. Every member of my team brings different perspectives and experiences,
which allows us to ensure that our messages reach a wide range of audiences more effectively. From board members to employees, local community members, and even children, everyone can learn about solar and climate change through our educational programme.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR ESG
Whilst playing our role in addressing climate risk and achieving net zero remain at the forefront of our ESG effort, it is important to look at the ‘E’ (Environmental) beyond the context of climate risk solely. To make businesses truly regenerative, we must elevate our ambitions for nature and support preservation
of biodiversity and ecosystems, which is high on our ESG agenda. We also need to think long-term and address some sector specific challenges like the recycling of solar panels and efficient resource use on our projects, especially in areas with scarce resources. The spotlight is also slowly but steadily
turning towards the ‘S’ (Social) in the ESG global arena, which for many years has taken a back seat to the other elements. In our industry, renewables, we have a moral obligation to remain at the forefront and ensure that our approach to ESG tackles Social and Governance issues in the same way as it addresses
Environmental ones. In addition to our increased focus on employee wellbeing, health and safety, and addressing inequalities within the workplace, it is the communities that are at the heart of our sustainability commitments. Furthermore, addressing human rights challenges, and increasing transparency in the solar supply chain, will remain the strong focus of our social sustainability efforts. Finally, transparency and accountability, in particular in relation to accuracy, consistency and comparability of ESG data, remain key ESG challenges and something that we will be seeing an increased effort of more standardization in this area in the near future. At Sonnedix, we strive to
achieve this transparency and accountability through publication of our public annual sustainability reports.
SONNEDIX ESG FOCUS, TODAY
At the moment, we are focusing on delivering our commitment to reach 100,000 learners by the end of 2023, through the educational resources and initiatives that we provide as part of our Sonnedix Sustainability Academy. We are actively looking for partnerships with educational and science organizations, like schools and museums, to reach children and young adults around the world. Some of our educational initiatives specifically target girls, for example through encouraging girls’ participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in Europe, the UK and the US, or supporting
access to education for girls in South Africa. We also look at innovation as a way to widen our reach, spatially, culturally and socially by using digital technology to educate children and young adults about renewable energy and fighting climate change. In November 2021, we have launched a new VR (Virtual Reality) project, which will transport the audience virtually to one of our solar PV (Photovoltaics) plants in the Atacama Desert in Chile, and allow them to learn how solar works in a truly immersive and engaging
Our education and awareness raising effort goes beyond the problem-solvers of tomorrow. Rising awareness amongst our Sonnedix’s colleagues on sustainability topics and ensuring that our senior management remains vigilant around ESG, is and will continue to stay high on our ESG agenda.
Read more in Fujifilm’s Women4Women issue.