The global pandemic has swept across every aspect of people’s lives, surfacing and aggravating societal challenges around the globe. This spotlight has accelerated the emergence of the S in ESG and raised the awareness and consciousness of all stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors and policymakers on the need to drive positive change through collective actions.
The growing focus on making a beneficial and measurable social impact underscores the significance of contributions made by corporate citizens in response to crises to support communities in need. More importantly, it reveals the necessity of having in place a material and durable commitment that builds resilience through social responsibility and taking the essential steps to help shape a better and more sustainable future.
Insurance as the embodiment of social solidarity
The role of the insurance industry is to take the risk and uncertainty out of life. Allianz Asia Pacific sustainability lead Nour Bouzid-Raissi said, “Our business is impacted by a wide range of issues that are consequential to society and our planet. We know we must come together through collaboration and engagement to address the most pressing challenges of today, to build confidence for a better tomorrow.”
“This year, Allianz strengthened its focus on sustainability and the creation of a more resilient society of the future. We are dedicated to improving social wellbeing in a structured manner, based on a common strategy globally.”
UN SDGs – blueprint for a sustainable future for the next generation
The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all UN members states in 2015, were designed as a blueprint and call-to-action to achieve a better and more sustainable future for humanity. To be achieved by the year 2030, the SDGs recognise that accelerating action in the context of sustainable development is more than just expediting the pace of change but also to enable diverse communities to participate in a just, equitable, and inclusive process, one that enhances the social needs such as education, health, social protection, job opportunities and overall wellbeing of people.
“The Group Sustainability Board has identified decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), climate action (SDG 13), and partnerships for the goals (SDG17), as the three goals to streamline our sustainability activities as a responsible corporate citizen, and a way of giving back to the communities in which we operate,” said Ms Bouzid-Raissi.
SDG 8 seeks to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, whilst providing full and productive employment and decent work for all. It outlines specific targets to achieve full and productive employment, decent work for all women and men (including for young people and person with disabilities), equal pay for work of equal value, as well as substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.
She said, “At Allianz, we operate in 70 countries, including 16 in Asia Pacific. As a leading insurer with a global footprint, we are mindful of the opportunity to create a distinct and positive social impact by providing employment to people in various roles.”
“As a long-term investor and insurer responsible for assessing all types of risks, we monitor the health of the economy and have an indirect impact on the wider employment market. Through promoting job creation with extended access to insurance, banking, and other financial services, we aim to ensure that everybody can share the fruits of entrepreneurship and innovation”.
“Our mission to ‘Secure Your Future’ puts a strong focus on the next generation, including children and young people. Today, youth and children under the age of 24 make up 40% of the world’s population, and soon they will become the leaders, employees, customers, and investors of the future. Every decision we make today, including environmental and climate protection, education, human rights and many more, will undoubtedly shape their livelihoods in and have long-term consequences in creating a sustainable society and their day-to-day lives.”
Visionary and holistic corporate citizenship strategy to drive positive impact
Allianz’s approach to corporate citizenship combines a long-term vision with the ability to quickly mobilise local resources to create a lasting impact for global society and local communities. The strategy is aimed at reaching under-served, vulnerable, and low-income population, scaling positive impact through collaboration with partners, and supporting communities to increase their resilience to disaster and conflicts.
In addition to mainline healthcare products and services, Allianz is also committed to incentivising healthy lifestyles, encouraging preventive measures and services that promote physical and mental well-being for our customers. Other initiatives fundamental to the corporate citizenship strategy include developing initiatives that focus on improving the physical and mental wellbeing of wider communities to advance social cohesion, for example partnering with local foundations in Thailand to support their mission to improve food equity and reduce food waste. In Indonesia, similar initiatives include assistance for those affected by COVID-19, floods and campaigns to enhance financial literacy.
Allianz is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion, shaping and promoting an inclusive culture across all business practices and operating entities. The social impact fund is one of Allianz’s programmes that offer the strategic opportunity for all Allianz’s operating entities to lead their local corporate citizenship activities which go beyond charitable donations, focusing on intersectoral partnership, social belonging, and creating a measurable impact.
These projects contribute to SDG 8 – the training and education for youth and people with disabilities, with employee volunteering at the core to enhance wellbeing and sense of purpose as a better citizen, both in and outside of work.
In Asia Pacific, successful projects include skill training programmes for the underprivileged in India, creating community centres to rejuvenate areas affected by endemic poverty in Malaysia, educating children on marine waste and recycling and waste management in Taiwan, and operating foundations to help female and young farmers to establish their own agribusinesses in Indonesia. These activities are designed to provide the next generation with the confidence and skills they need to lead meaningful lives and to be valued members of society.
Ms Bouzid-Raissi said, “Allianz is committed to be an active and meaningful driver of systemic change in our community. Business can only thrive as part of an equitable society. We have the opportunity to use our scale and expertise as a global investor and insurer to enable the next generations to survive both the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, as well as other systematic social risks.”
Effective stakeholder engagement critical in responding to sustainability challenges and opportunities
“As a multinational business, the challenges we face are wide ranging and complex. We use materiality analysis, customer surveys and direct engagement with investors, customers, society, and employees to shape our strategy, activities, and reporting. Taking the extra step to understand stakeholders’ holistic needs has enabled Allianz to design products and services that contribute to tackling societal issues such as climate change and social inclusion,” she said.
“We engage with investors to communicate our sustainability strategy and performance, enabling them to make informed decisions about their investments and for our businesses to understand their expectations. Feedback from customers helps us improve our products, services and processes and offer easy and adaptable solutions. On the other hand, we continuously seek and respond to employees’ views, ideas and concerns. Given the pace and scale of global change, we must work together with individuals, local communities, businesses, governments, and institutions to identify sustainable solutions and drive positive change.” A