Group CEO perspective
Group Chief Executive Officer
Change is happening beyond the insurance sector. Society itself is transforming.
Forces like globalization, the mobility of talent and funds, shifting geopolitics, reskilling for a digital workforce, demographics, climate change. Each of these poses immensely complex social issues that demand solutions from an increasingly stretched set of governmental and multi-lateral institutions.
We can no longer expect the responsibility to fall on our political leaders alone. As business leaders, we must step up and take actions – individually and collectively – to be agents of change and play a more impactful role in addressing these societal issues.
This is a key driver of customer trust in our transforming world. For today’s empowered customers, simply delivering improved products at higher efficiency levels is no longer enough - companies must also acknowledge and address societal challenges.
That requires further creative and bold thinking at Zurich.
It is why Zurich has reset its ambition level on sustainability issues. We want to be known as one of the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world. It is a longer-term ambition, but it is based on our understanding that the world is undergoing a transformation, and that Zurich can have a positive impact. From climate change and responsible investment to workforce protection and digital skills, we have the knowledge, capabilities and spirit to make a difference.
Some examples of our actions
We are already making a difference. For example, through our flood resilience program where we are continuing to work with our alliance partners to develop solutions to recurring flooding. Also, we are increasing our impact investments, supporting environmental projects ranging from renewable energy generation to sustainable real estate and energy efficiency improvements. In addition, we have adopted new environmental targets to ensure continuous improvement in our environmental performance.
But we know that we can do more and that is why we are raising our level of ambition.
Michel M. Liès
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Sustainability means doing business today in a way that safeguards the future of our company and our society. It is about the solutions we provide to our customers, the way in which we invest our assets, and how we proactively determine ways to address environmental, social and governance issues in our-day-to-day activities. It is all linked to the fundamental role that insurance plays in society.
The Executive Committee and the Board take an active role in Zurich’s approach to sustainability. In 2016, the Governance and Nominations Committee’s mandate was extended to include sustainability more broadly, reviewing and approving the Group’s sustainability strategy and objectives. It was renamed the Governance, Nominations and Sustainability Committee and is chaired by myself.
Our Sustainability Leaders Council, set up by the Executive Committee, ensures that Zurich achieves its sustainability objectives. The Council comprises of senior executives from across the business and is chaired by the Group Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability.
Transparency of information
Zurich’s position with respect to transparency on sustainability-related matters is not limited to compliance with regulatory requirements. We publish an annual sustainability highlights report, which includes our commitment to the UN Global Compact, the UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Zurich has also included certain non-financial KPIs related to its sustainability strategy in its annual reporting.
Playing our part in creating a sustainable future is more than an opportunity for insurers – it is our responsibility. In a world facing the massive changes we are seeing today, our role as risk experts has never been more important to addressing society’s challenges. We must demonstrate this value powerfully and consistently through our words and actions.
And Zurich is committed to doing just that.