The Board of AEEI oversees and drives a strategic approach to sustainability that responds to the interests of all key stakeholders while protecting and creating value.
AEEI is aware of and appreciates the evolution of governance and that the Group’s core purpose, business model, performance, risks, opportunities and sustainable development are inseparable elements of the value-creation process. The Board is aware that its responsibility and accountability, in addition to producing solid financial results, include managing the Company’s environmental and social impact, as well as addressing the expectations of stakeholders, including regulators, investors, clients and employees.
SUSTAINABILITY GOVERNANCE FRAMEWORK
AEEI’s business is built on a strong foundation, including its business model, core values and principles. Our products and services are the tangible outputs of our business activities and our social and ethical responsibilities guide our day-to-day activities. All forms of sustainability are extremely important in our strategy and operational activities. AEEI’s goal has always been to provide management with innovative solutions to every subsidiary and client while remaining committed to social responsibility.
Details of our business model and definitions of our values and principles are set out in our abridged integrated report, which can be found online at www.aeei.co.za.
The ultimate responsibility of sustainability rests with the Board and the Board has tasked the social, ethics and transformation committee to manage and monitor sustainability.
In addition to the careful stewardship of natural resources, the Group continually works towards sustainable development by contributing to the eradication of poverty and income inequalities, with the goals being employment, accessing quality and affordable basic services, and fostering a stable and just society.
The Board remains firmly committed to the development of the intellectual and human capitals. The performance assessment of senior managers includes an assessment of how they have developed the human capital of the Group, especially the development of historically disadvantaged individuals. The Board has affirmed its practice regarding procurement from black economic empowerment companies, enterprise and supplier development as well as socio-economic development.
The Group has policies in place to ensure that the subsidiaries act in an environmentally-friendly manner that considers the existence of the communities in which the subsidiaries’ operations are located. AEEI and its various business units are not considered to make a particularly heavy demand on the natural environment.
However, businesses in the Group are committed to being industry leaders and adding value to the services they provide by implementing sustainable business practices that minimise the impact that our operations have on the environment. Environmental commitments are an integral part of our day-to-day activities.
AEEI’s carbon emissions are low and we have a very low direct impact on the environment, but we are affected by the environment in which we operate and the impact of how climate change affects our business. We commit our businesses to a journey of responsible environmental stewardship. We acknowledge that a stable economy and a sustainable business require a sustainable environment. Our fishing and brands division works closely with the relevant authorities to safeguard various fish species and pays careful attention to the environmental impact of its operations.
The Group’s material matters, the stakeholders affected and how we manage them can be found on pages 43 to 49. ( – Principles 3, 4, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16)
For AEEI, social sustainability and corporate citizenship go beyond legislative compliance. Social sustainability recognises the rights and responsibilities of businesses within a broader societal context and reinforces AEEI’s mission of being a dynamic and innovative Company that creates superior stakeholder value.
The Group is aware of the critical role that a business should play in the upliftment and development of the previously disadvantaged majority. The Group is committed to investing in the upliftment of society and in playing a pivotal role in improving the quality of life among the disadvantaged communities through its corporate citizenship initiatives. We continue to subscribe to a sustainable approach in conducting our business.
AEEI’s strategic focus on being an exemplary custodian assists us to manage our impact on the communities around us and to actively contribute to their socioeconomic development through various initiatives.
Many of the subsidiaries in the Group support their own initiatives in line with the Group’s policy and their areas of operation.
It is for this reason that we need to give back to the communities in which we operate by:
- driving the corporate social investment strategy across the Group by investing in social services in our communities and creating value through social investment;
- supporting local business and promoting social and economic development;
- providing employment opportunities and skills development;
- providing training and development through our internship programme;
- investing in the future of our youth by facilitating access to higher education;
- paying our taxes and royalties to government;
- driving the B-BBEE targets in the Group;
- further driving transformation throughout the Group;
- adhering to ethical standards and preventing corruption;
- ensuring effective risk management and compliance;
- promoting social and economic development;
- promoting partnerships with business peers, sector organisations and research bodies;
- having open channels of communications; and
- ensuring that the Group is and is seen to be a responsible corporate citizen.
CORPORATE SOCIAL INVESTMENT (CSI)
The Group invests directly in some of its CSI programmes while others are managed through the Sekunjalo Development Foundation (SDF). The aim is to create a sustained social impact through focused activities. AEEI and the SDF have selected focus areas that have an impact on individual and societal development and play a significant role in nurturing young people who represent the future.
AEEI and the SDF’s approach is to:
- encourage employee participation and volunteering in its CSI programmes;
- prioritise CSI across the Group, focusing on set initiatives that support societal challenges; and
- ensure the integration of community needs.
AEEI and the SDF continue to move away from ad hoc requests towards focused areas, which are shaped by an increasing need to ensure effective stakeholder relations and the socio-economic needs of the communities in which the Group conducts its business.
For the year ahead, AEEI and the SDF will continue with its CSI programmes in the focused areas with more emphasis in the areas of social and enterprise development.