What it takes for insurance companies to be a good corporate citizen
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“Our goal is to be able to donate £250 million (approx. CA$389 million) by 2025. We have already given away more than £150 million (approx. CA$233 million),” said David Huebel, president of Ecclesiastical Insurance.
The insurer supports an annual community impact grant in Canada, which benefits various local charities, including organizations for vulnerable youth and cultural heritage programs. As part of its corporate partnership program, Ecclesiastical also selects a national charity that it supports through funding and volunteer work.
According to Huebel, Ecclesiastical’s operations form a kind of virtuous circle, where the company insures entities that are enriching others’ lives, and available profits from those sales are funneled back into charitable groups.
“Everything we do always has a giving back element. It could be something simple, like building a new online platform and creating an internal contest to name it, where we award half the prize to the employee, but the other half goes to a charity of their choice. It doesn’t need to be much, but it makes a difference,” Huebel shared with Insurance Business.
While it’s not possible for every insurance company to adopt Ecclesiastical’s unique business model, they can develop robust CSR programs by embedding initiatives directly into their company culture, Huebel said.
“It’s about setting bold goals and targets and involving your teams in achieving them. It’s always coming up with new things, and then engaging all stakeholders: getting the employees involved, and talking to your brokers, partners, and customers,” he added.
Listening to their customers also helps Ecclesiastical hone into the needs of the community. Building those connections is key to steering their initiatives, Huebel explained: “In the retirement segment, for example, we may spend a bit of time at the retirement homes, playing cards with some of the elderly residents there, and getting to know them a bitmore.”
Ecclesiastical is also deliberate about who it does business with, according to Huebel. Aligning with others that share similar values is a win-win because it empowers organizations to meet environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) targets as well as overall business goals.
“It’s more than just the financial side: What are they doing? Is it a sustainable way of doing business? What steps are they taking to support various initiatives?” asked Huebel.
Beyond giving away its available profits, Ecclesiastical also donates a significant amount of its time. The company averages about 500 hours of volunteer time annually with its 80 employees, and it wants to do more.
“We want to increase [volunteer time] this year now that we’ve moved out of COVID restrictions. We’ve already done a couple of things such as cleaning up Toronto together, and meal prepping at the Yonge Street Mission,” Huebel said.
Impact is an important factor for companies to consider when formulating their CSR programs, but Huebel said smaller firms shouldn’t get too caught up with numbers.
“It’s not the amount you give, it’s the fact that you’re doing something to help people. It’s amazing how a small amount can make such a difference,” he stressed.
“If you look at a bigger company, you might say: ‘Wow, they’re giving so much. We’re not going to make a difference, because we can’t give as much.’ But part of it is just recognizing that small donations can make a big impact.”
Is your organization going above and beyond to nourish its communities, boost vulnerable sectors of society, or contribute to the well-being of the environment? The Insurance Business Canada Awards (IBCA) aims to celebrate excellent corporate social responsibility initiatives within the insurance industry.
Nominations for all categories for the 2022 edition of IBCA are open until July 15. Winners will be revealed live at an awards ceremony this November in front of peers, sponsors, friends, family, and the entire Insurance Business community.
See the full list of categories and criteria at ibawards.ca.