Group of people socialising at a collaboration event

How we're changing the industry: Contract Beyond the Contract

Jordan Torres

Last week we were delighted to host our second Friends of So Energy event, where we came together with over 70 of our third-party partners to talk about the future of the energy industry, where change is needed to create a fairer system that is greener whilst providing better security and affordability. We also unveiled our new Contract Beyond the Contract, a progressive multi-year initiative to diversify energy – from our call centres to our engineers, and all the way to our board rooms.

Our Chief Executive, Monica Collings, opened the event by acknowledging what So Energy has been doing for, and on behalf of, its customers while working towards more diversity, but also the continued need to innovate and challenge structural inequities.

“As the only female Chief Executive currently within the domestic retail energy sector, I am personally committed to driving better equity within the industry at large. I feel a great deal of responsibility to help pave the way for the next generation of diverse leaders within an industry that I care deeply about.”

- Monica Collings, Chief Executive Officer

Afterwards, Pat Fenlon, Executive Director of Customer Solutions at ESB, discussed how ESB and So Energy had been learning from each other and embodying our joint values through their partnership. Net Zero was also on the table, and how more must be done to reach our targets and realise a lower carbon future.

Rohan Churm, Director of Financial Resilience and Controls for Ofgem spoke positively about how the energy industry is rebuilding. With the worst of the gas crisis hopefully behind us, Rohan shared how Ofgem continues to believe in the value of competition in the market. But going forward, hard lessons needed to be learnt from previous supplier failures. It was also great to hear Rohan detail Ofgem’s progress with diversity, noting in particular that 14% of their senior leaders are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Afterwards, we heard from Energy UK Chief Executive, Emma Pinchbeck, who expressed how customers were key to a Net Zero transition, with suppliers being the guide in that transition. Intermediary. Educating people on the importance of sustainability and climate change means people better understand how initiatives like Net Zero are intrinsic to combating climate change. Emma rounded off her talk by detailing her path into the energy industry, and how more must be done to better represent the communities that suppliers serve.

What’s our Contract Beyond Contract?

Meg O’Neil, our Internal Communications Specialist, and Julie-Ann Wyatt, our Head of People, then introduced So Energy’s Contract Beyond the Contract. In 2023 we launched our first Diversity and Belonging Strategy at So Energy to meet the needs of our customers and workforce. As part of this initiative, we pledged to work in partnership with our energy community to create a gender-balanced, diverse, and inclusive UK energy sector. To do so, So Energy has committed to ensuring that our partners throughout our supply chain, whom we see as an extension of our business, are collaborating with us to make this a reality. This is a crucial, but often overlooked, part of the conversation for businesses. 

We’ve set various diversity targets, including 50% female representation across the junior, middle management and leadership levels by 2028, as well as a 30% ethnic minority representation target at leadership levels. We’re also baselining other diversity statistics this year to set further goals by 2024.

“Committing to this contract signifies that our partners are just as serious as we are about making energy a sector where everyone can thrive. It’s an ask for ALL OF US TO be honest about where they are and where they’re going, and it’s an offer to work together to get there.”

- Meg O’Neil, Internal Communications Specialist

It’s also important that we acknowledge a large structural change like this might be difficult and daunting for various businesses.

“For us, success isn’t about measuring against set standards, we’re still learning too. We want to be honest and transparent about progress, not perfection, and making sure we leave nobody behind.” 

-Julie-Anne Wyatt, Head of People

Our Contract Beyond the Contract marks a pivotal shift in how we’re driving meaningful and tangible change throughout our supply chain in an industry that needs to adapt and diversify. We’re looking forward to creating the future of energy, together.