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Case study: How DEWA promotes employee development

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is a Dubai government owned utility and the sole provider of electricity and water in the Emirate of Dubai. Committed to investing in its workforce, DEWA provides various training programmes  Tweet This!, including technical training and leadership development programmes, that focus on competencies, management and supervisory skills, interpersonal and behavioural skills.

This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Report by DEWA published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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To further develop and preserve its world-class workforce, DEWA provides all possible support opportunities in terms of career building to its employees, to achieve a high level of ability and strengthen their social cohesion. In order to promote employee development DEWA took action to:

  • establish the Assessment and Development Centre
  • implement an integrated Knowledge Management system
  • launch the Forward Sprint Programme

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report DEWA identified a range of material issues, such as water availability and effluents, system efficiency, access to electricity, occupational health & safety, innovation. Among these, promoting employee development stands out as a key material issue for DEWA.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards             

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups DEWA engages with:

Stakeholder Group
Providers of capital/ investors
Society and future generation

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics DEWA used an online platform to run a materiality engagement workshop with its stakeholders. The platform allowed participants to raise their concerns, vote on material topics, and interact in real-time and anonymously.

What actions were taken by DEWA to promote employee development?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report DEWA reports that it took the following actions for promoting employee development:

  • Establishing the Assessment and Development Centre
  • DEWA established its Assessment and Development Centre (A&DC) in 2015, to improve the abilities of its employees and make sure that it recruits the right people. A&DC uses a variety of assessment methods and trained observers and assessors to evaluate against a pre-determined set of criteria linked to behavioural competencies. Activities include standardised psychometric tests and business simulations. These identify potential strengths and development needs which can then form a basis for establishing a development plan, as opposed to a pass or fail event. The British Psychological Society (BPS) certified all of the A&DC’s experts in the use of psychometric and assessment tools. The final output of the Development assessment is an individual bespoke development plan for 24 months, that includes various development activities including but not limited to on-the-job training, training courses, reading etc. Since its establishment, the A&DC has contributed to essential projects such as graduate recruitment, critical positions recruitment, employee development and coaching, succession planning, scholarship and DGEP (Dubai Government Excellence Programme) candidates’ selection and development. The Centre has evaluated over 2,300 candidates for various vacancies, more than 1,400 students applying for scholarships, and 1,439 employees of different positions, for development.
  • Implementing an integrated Knowledge Management system
  • DEWA implements an integrated Knowledge Management (ΚΜ) system that includes a KM Policy, Strategy, Framework, Quality Procedures and a specialised Knowledge & Intellectual Capital (K&IC) Department to manage, execute and monitor knowledge related initiatives and projects. In August 2019, DEWA was the first utility in the world to be certified against International Standard ISO 30401: 2018 – Knowledge Management Systems. DEWA supports the development of employee knowledge skills, competences and practices through the resources, tools and activities of the K&IC Department, which include: ­
    • Digital access to high quality, reliable curated external knowledge resources through the DEWA SMART Library, SMART Office Application and DEWA Online Catalogue for all DEWA employees. ­
    • Access to physical collections and creative spaces through the 7 DEWA Knowledge Centres, 6 Knowledge Chairs and 3 Reading Trees for all DEWA s ­
    • Activities that encourage the transfer of knowledge between individuals and groups such as Knowledge Days, KM Training, Share an Hour, Annual ShareK Recognition award, Communities of Practice, Marifa Collaboration Platform, Expert Knowledge Sessions, LinkedIn Learning and the iAsk Reference & Research Service.
  • Launching the Forward Sprint Programme
  • In 2019, DEWA launched the Forward Sprint Programme. The programme developed six digital new disruptive businesses and services to leverage DEWA’s assets to support the Dubai Agenda 2021, developing the local economy and nurturing local talent. DEWA worked with BCG Digital Ventures (BCG DV), a world-class Company-Builder firm with proven successful experience and large companies in Dubai such as ENOC, in innovating, incubating and launching disruptive ‘digital’ businesses. Six high performing DEWA staff were seconded full time to the programme for the first 100 days. These employees worked on a daily basis side by side with the BCG DV team to build innovative concepts and bring innovation capability back to DEWA and, more specifically, to:
    • Discover customer insights ­
    • Develop innovative ideas ­
    • Build bankable business concepts ­
    • Pitch ideas to the board

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs

Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs corresponds to:


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1) This case study is based on published information by DEWA, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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