Sustainability and solidarity come together in company volunteering

Sustainability and solidarity come together in company volunteering

December 20, 2005. The United Nations General Assembly institutes International Human Solidarity Day, identifying it as one of the fundamental and universal values that should be the Foundation of relationships between peoples.

This is a key concept for us, as we strongly believe in volunteerism, particularly in the version which aims to involve all our people by valuing the actions of each of us.


The resumption of activities in service to others

Our volunteering program resumed in the second half of 2022. “I’m particularly proud of the journey we’ve embarked on and that we continue with company volunteering,” emphasizes Nicola Lanzetta, Head of Country Italy. “Our role is to facilitate this journey, to match the wholesome urge to help that exists in all of us with organizations that strive every day to make the lives of the less fortunate easier, better and more enjoyable.”

“What’s more,” continues Lanzetta, “it’s important for us, but also for the growth of Italy. Enel has a recognized role: we are a company with an important industrial mission, but we have an equally important social mission. The message that we want to send is that we have to be good, very good people. I believe that we’re doing that, and that we can do even more. And that’s why we think that in this area, our volunteering program can make a significant contribution.”


The value of company volunteering

The response of colleagues to the company volunteer program has been one of enthusiasm and engagement. “This is a fundamental lever for sustainability because it contributes to creating shared value with the communities where we work, supporting people’s growth and improving their wellbeing,” explains Francesca Valente, Head of People and Organization Italy. “And it’s a path in line with the goals and principles of the UN 2030 Agenda. All of this has a positive effect because it means that our employees work better and feel more included, their sense of belonging increases, and productivity and results improve. Our project has seen an extremely high rate of participation: between 2019 and 2020, a total of 710 people took part in 35 volunteering projects, for a total of more than 6000 hours, and in 2022, up to now, more than 100 people have gotten involved. Moreover, our dedicated company platform has registered 15,500 visits. That means that more than half of our people felt motivated to look at this page and, as a result, a huge number of applications have been received.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, in-person activities were put on hold, while remote experiences were prioritized. “During the pandemic, we never stopped volunteering. We continued to do what we could, obviously in digital form, focusing mainly on supporting training,” explains Filippo Nicolò Rodriguez, Head of Sustainability Italy and Managing Director of Enel Cuore Onlus. “Several of our employees helped out with the Powercoders program, teaching coding to migrants and to young people identified as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). We also continued to develop the School4Life project, created in partnership with the training organization ELIS, through which our employees, as experts in their professions, described their day-to-day work to young people at risk of dropping out of school and showed them possibilities for the future. Now we’re celebrating the recommencement of in-person activities: in 2022 there was a follow up to this new commitment with four new projects spread across Rome, Milan and Palermo, led by Caritas of Rome, Fondazione L’Albero della Vita, Fondazione Arché and Associazione Quartieri Tranquilli.”


The synergy with Enel Cuore

“One of the new developments in 2023 is the synergy between Enel colleagues and Enel Cuore, our non-profit charitable Foundation,” continues Rodriguez. “There’s a connection between our charitable activities and the company’s participation through our employees. This fits perfectly into the Group’s sustainability strategy, which sees active citizenship and contributing to the wellbeing of the community as one of our founding values. So for us, helping the most vulnerable is the best response.”

Enel Cuore, founded in 2003, is our Group’s non-profit charitable Foundation that works to help those in need, acting in a way that complements our sustainability strategy. “In recent years, we’ve worked in particular to counter school dropout rates and educational exclusion, old and new forms of poverty and gender violence,” says Rodriguez. “But we are also focused on what we call pathways to independence, which consist of helping - through vocational training, for example - people who have physical or cognitive disabilities or who perhaps have experienced challenging situations, such as people who’ve spent time in prison. We help them to reintegrate into society, into the world of work and into active participation.”

What is new this year is that Enel Cuore will focus much more on poverty. In its most recent report, Caritas highlighted a particularly alarming statistic: in Italy, five and a half million people are living in poverty and one and a half million of those are children.

 “We want to take action on this and especially on an aspect that effects Italy, the so-called ‘sticky floor’: the impossibility of breaking free from poverty in fewer than five generations, a pattern in which we rank among the worst in Europe. These are the main areas we are focusing on, to which we can add health, especially the health of the youngest and oldest members of society,” concludes Rodriguez.

The associations involved

We have always listened to the needs of the territory to find effective solutions that are able to bring concrete and tangible benefits to people and communities. Because of this, the cornerstone of our volunteer program is the exchange and collaboration with foundations, non-profits and associations. Thanks to these entities, to their expertise and dedication, from Milan to Palermo we can support numerous projects and initiatives devoted to combating social marginalization and achieving a more supportive, equitable and inclusive society.


Together with the Fondazione L’Albero della Vita

Since the beginning of the recovery in November 2022, our colleagues have participated in various activities, among these is the program run by the non-profit Fondazione L’Albero della VitaVarcare la Soglia”, already supported by Enel Cuore.  “Our Foundation has existed for 25 years and was created to primarily support children in situations of great vulnerability,” says Chiara Paratico, the Foundation’s Corporate Partnerships Manager. “The Enel volunteers who worked with us told us that this experience was very moving for them and provided a concrete opportunity for cooperation, on the one hand working as a team with their colleagues but especially when coming into contact with our children and teens. Just the fact that someone who had never been to the ZEN 2 neighborhood in Palermo was here because of them really meant a lot to these children who feel excluded from the city.”

This experience was also replicated in Milan, Genoa, Perugia and Naples with the project "ImpariAMO Insieme" and in Catanzaro with “Di-battiamoci”. The first is an initiative aimed at combating school exclusion and educational poverty in difficult situations. The second is an initiative aimed at promoting debate as a pro-active approach toward social life. These objectives are articulated in various pathways of orientation and remediation, training and support that, on the one hand tries to make learning new digital and technological skills easier and on the other hand guides students in the discovery of STEM subjects. A broad approach that even involves children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old through educational and play workshops designed to stimulate imagination and creativity as well as to provide healthy opportunities for discussion and cooperation.

Together with the Associazione Quartieri Tranquilli for the Fondazione Arché Onlus

Together with the Associazione Quartieri Tranquilli, our volunteers took part in the “Illuminiamo le tavole” project for the preparation and delivery of bags filled with groceries to families living in poverty or precarious situations, supported by the Fondazione Arché Onlus, an activity already supported by Enel Cuore

This initiative provided the delivery of 3 tons of food, from December 2022 to May 2023, delivered to residences in electric cars from our corporate fleet, in line with a mission that aims to combine combating poverty and fighting food waste with social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

Also in Milan, our people were involved in the “Humus” project, another charitable activity of the Fondazione Arché Onlus, created to support families in need through the distribution of food, social housing and work inclusion initiatives. “It was great to see Enel employees, paintbrushes in hand, wielding brooms and dustpans, intent on preparing an amazing structure destined to become a food hub in Milan in Quarto Oggiaro, a complex neighborhood that is undergoing a transformation, and where, at the height of the pandemic, many people lost their jobs,” explains Father Giuseppe Bettoni, President of the Foundation. “I ask those on my team not only to be professionals but also people that think and feel. And that is what has made so many projects possible over the years. The task of the volunteer, of the citizen, is to bring light where the darkness often seems to prevail, but we must remember that it is at night that we can see the stars. So, thank you, because Enel is helping us to make this light, and these stars, shine. And we hope to continue doing so for a long time to come,” concludes Father Bettoni.


Together with Legambiente

Each of us can contribute to making the city and communal spaces more sustainable through small gestures: this is the message we wanted to transmit by participating in Legambiente’s Park Litter and Beach Litter projects. These projects offer an opportunity for civic engagement and cooperation, during which many of our colleagues gathered in different cities across Italy to clean up trash from parks and beaches, promoting a culture of respect for public places and a commitment to protecting the environment.