There are few sectors of the economy in which long-term thinking plays as intrinsic a part as in the insurance industry. UNIQA and its predecessor companies have striven for around 200 years to offer a high degree of security to people in all sorts of circumstances of life – in many cases, for their entire lives. In providing that service, it helps to pay just as much attention to social metatrends as to short-lived fads. Those who merely seek quick success in this industry are sure to fail sooner or later.
As far as we are concerned, sustainability and the notion of creating economic value are two sides of the same coin. Consequently, we consider value-based company management to be about more than just satisfying the interests of stakeholders and investors. We go a step further and give consideration to environmental and socio-cultural values, and make these an integral part of many of our processes.
In 2011, for example, we began to optimise 34 defined processes in this respect.
Four-phase model of sustainability
To UNIQA, sustainability means employing a clear, transparent system of governance to take responsibility in three areas: economic, social and environmental. In our view, the path towards ingraining sustainability comprehensively in UNIQA’s strategy and business model involves four phases:
Phase 1: the purely commercial approach
The focus lies on purely business-related goals. Environmental and social aspects are not considered.
Phase 2: compliance fulfilment
The company fulfils the minimum requirements for compliance. It also supports individual projects, but remains unstructured in its approach. Sustainability is still viewed primarily as a PR tool.
Phase 3: risk and values management
Sustainability is linked to strategy and integrated in processes and systems. There is management of responsibility and values. Compliance rules not only meet legislative targets, but are a major element of corporate culture. The issue of sustainability is addressed actively and in a structured manner.
Phase 4: strategic differentiation
Sustainability is integrated in the company strategy. Incentive schemes and product innovations are consistently geared towards sustainability. New market segments are opened up.
Until recently, UNIQA – like most companies in our industry – was in phase 2. We have since made progress and are working systematically towards reaching phase 3.