We’re a responsible company. But that’s no longer enough. We need to do more to address the complexity and scale of challenges facing our modern world because the changes facing our world, and our industry, are evident everywhere. Why is being sustainable important? People are working longer, and conventional job models are giving way to the ‘gig’ economy. Digital technology is reshaping how we interact and do business, and the impacts of a changing climate could affect every person.
At Zurich, we are fortunate to have been helping customers adapt to, and thrive in a changing environment for nearly 150 years. Building on this proud legacy, we want to do more. Our goal is to be recognized as one of the world’s leading sustainable companies. To achieve this, we will increasingly focus our expertise and energy on the big challenges shaping our world. Here are three key areas we are focusing on being more sustainable:
We already do a lot to support workers and people embarking on careers. Zurich helps young people to get a foot on the insurance career ladder through apprenticeship programs. We support youth empowerment. Zurich helps young people to learn computer coding skills. We sponser programs to prepare young people to join the workforce, and give our own employees opportunities. These to increase their knowledge and skills, and these are just some examples
However, we want to – and must – do even more. The way we work has changed dramatically. People are not only working longer, but the traditional career path is becoming less linear. While mobile technology and the internet have led to new ways of working, challenging employer-based benefits models. We are helping to support these trends while protecting individuals, and will increase our focus on ways to help people work and live better in the future.
The digital transformation is well advanced, and it is affecting people worldwide. Today, there are more mobile phone licenses on the planet than there are people. Devices are connected and ‘smart’, so we have established the Zurich Insurance Mobile Solutions company to ensure we make best use of all the opportunities. And we are working to contribute to improving cyber-security. Using ‘cognitive computing’ we have cut the time needed to process certain claims from nearly an hour down to just seconds. And we are helping to make our service offerings more personalized with geo-location technology that can ‘see’ and warn travelers if they are in situations where they may be at risk.
These trends offer enormous possibilities but also pose new risks. We need to be responsible in the way we work with and handle data. We are also exploring sophisticated new technologies that can help us make a significant difference to our customers by reducing risks, including fraud, by using complex technologies like blockchain. And we are also seeking ways to complement and support digital trends with a new generation of products and services.
As an insurer we help others to lessen risk, including through our award-winning, collaborative approach to increasing flood resilience. We educate businesses, policymakers, communities and individuals about the implications of climate extremes. And we support positive change, for example, by applying a risk lens to controversial issues like thermal coal. Zurich has made strides to minimize its own impact on the environment. We achieved carbon neutrality in 2014, use renewable electricity and our new offices in Switzerland and the U.S. that set the standard for environmental performance.
Looking ahead, we are striving to be more sustainable, including in our investments. For example, we are aiming to double our impact investment portfolio to USD 5 billion. This is to avoid 5 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions and improve 5 million people’s lives on an annual basis. Climate change is a real concern, both to us and our customers, and we need to do everything in our power to understand its impacts and, where possible, help people, business and communities mitigate and adapt to such changes.
At its core, insurance has always focused on helping others overcome hardships, conquer new challenges or protect what’s important to them. For Zurich, that core purpose has been evident throughout our history. Today, we continue to fulfill our promises to customers by paying claims and helping millions of people to avoid or mitigate risks.
We at Zurich are keenly aware of the latest trends shaping individuals and society. Zurich actively seeks to be early adaptors, making best use of new technologies. We have the expertise, capability and spirit to contribute even more. We will do more because using our role as society’s risk experts to help society to adapt to the forces changing our world.
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