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How We Manage Sustainability

At the core of our comprehensive governance and risk management approach is the trust that our stakeholders place in us to uphold the highest level of integrity and ethical conduct, guided by our Code of Ethical Conduct, which embodies our core values, and the Sanlam Business Philosophy, which sets out the most appropriate approach for implementing our strategy.

The Sanlam Way is an external expression of our values and behaviour in the market place:

  • We are determined and resolute
  • We are solid and sensible
  • We do it very, very well
  • We do it for good

Our business strategy sets out the elements that guide our long-term direction and thinking. It gives life to our purpose and provides clarity when we determine priorities and consider trade-offs. Our strategic intent is to create sustainable value for all stakeholders.

The Role of Our Social, Ethics and Sustainability (SES) Committee

Our SES committee monitors and advises on all SES matters and relevant issues that significantly impact our business and our stakeholders. The committee reports on the progress of our sustainability journey through quarterly feedback to the Board, and to stakeholders via this website. The Chairman of the SES committee attends our annual general meeting. Find out more in our governance report.

Our Comprehensive Management Approach

In addition to the oversight provided by our Social, Ethics and Sustainability committee, we have a number of systems and processes in place to ensure we manage sustainability responsibly – this includes managing the sustainability of our business and that of our stakeholders.

We have specific governance functions (such as oversight committees with specialist advisers) in place to oversee and monitor our contribution to financial resilience and prosperity for our clients, employees and society. Our engagement with our other relevant stakeholders is managed by the Sanlam Board and the executive management team as part of our broader stakeholder engagement strategy .

Our sustainability performance is tracked through material sustainability matters that each cluster has identified as critical. Combined, these material sustainability matters ensure we are focused on the right things in each area of our business to contribute to the long-term sustainability of our business and ensure future generations continue to benefit from our business. The executive management teams of each cluster, as well as by Sanlam Group and the Sanlam Foundation, take accountability for progress and action on each matter.

We are a pioneer in incorporating the client view into our governance structures. The Sanlam Customer Interest committee was initiated in 1998 as a Board committee and has since then broadened its mandate in terms of Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) Regulations. Its scope encompasses the entire Group as it provides guidance to the Board on strategic issues relating to clients. The committee reviews and monitors all strategic client-related decisions. These are closely aligned with the six fairness outcomes of TCF, as defined by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). Read more about our legacy of client centricity.

In addition to guidance provided by the Sanlam Customer Interest committee, we started a TCF implementation project in 2013. The outcome of this project was the TCF Product Governance Framework for relevant Sanlam Group businesses, which provides guidance, standards and objectives related to treating our clients fairly.

While TCF is not a regulatory requirement in the emerging markets we operate in, Sanlam Emerging Markets adopts a similar philosophy to matters related to client interests.

The interests of Sanlam’s shareholders are directly linked to the value created for our clients. This interdependency is at the core of our business model. The Sanlam Customer Interest committee plays an important role in ensuring that this interdependency is appropriately managed. We have a strong internal complaints management process. We further subscribe to the independent Ombudsman of Long-Term Insurance’s (OLTI) Long-Term Ombudsman Scheme. Our long-term insurance policyholders can lodge a complaint with the OLTI for resolution. The OLTI publishes industry complaints data for all subscribers in their annual report. This information is available on their website at

Our human resources (HR) function is located at Group and cluster levels. Our HR function is also represented on the Sanlam Board through the Human Resources and Remuneration committee.

Group HR aligns employee performance, behaviours and corporate culture with our long-term business strategy. It provides employee-focused strategic direction and guidance on HR governance. This includes compliance with relevant statutory and legislative requirements. Group HR further provides shared services to our business where necessary and appropriate. This includes, for example, training and development initiatives, as well as recruitment platforms. Group HR fosters collaboration and drives potential synergies between the clusters. It participates in special interest forums that enable it to leverage available expertise to forge mutually beneficial HR strategies. The various cluster HR functions manage HR strategies and operations in a decentralised manner. The clusters are accountable for identifying and addressing their specific commercial and strategic needs from a human capital perspective, while supporting Group HR priorities.

Group HR has identified four key strategic focus areas that support its HR strategy. This strategy was implemented in 2014 and was revised for the period 2017 to 2019 in 2016. The four core focus areas are:

  • Talent for the future: Group HR strives to ensure that we attract, develop and retain the best talent available. This is achieved through the Sanlam Brand and Employee Value Proposition (EVP), and cross-cluster processes designed to nurture and position high-potential talent for growth, career development and progression.
  • Shape the culture: Group HR drives initiatives that shape and strengthen Sanlam’s corporate identity and culture. These include supporting our shared business philosophy to create a ‘One Firm’ firm. The focus area further supports a culture of transformation, diversity and inclusivity across our business.
  • Transformation: This is a not only a strategic priority but also a business imperative – with the transformation of our human capital being a key leg of our transformation agenda. Transformation infuses into all aspects of human capital management at Sanlam, and we acknowledge that our continued success and future sustainable growth in local and international contexts depends on a diverse employee base that is reflective and representative of our increasingly diverse client base. By virtue of the various legislative requirements, and as a South African corporate citizen, Sanlam embraces the obligation and the responsibility transformation bears.
  • Governance and operational excellence: A governance and compliance focus underpins Sanlam’s HR offerings and capabilities. This includes full compliance with all reporting and governance requirements of relevant regulations. This ensures appropriate internal equity regarding employee benefits, policies and remuneration across Sanlam, and providing payroll information and talent management systems that support HR excellence.

These four strategic focus areas support our contribution to creating resilient and prosperous employees through a focus on training and development, business diversity and inclusion, and effective governance that supports a fair and equitable workplace.

The Sanlam Foundation was established in 2011. It is our primary corporate responsibility vehicle and provides a coordinated approach to community investment. The Sanlam Foundation’s strategy is aligned with our core business strategy, providing focused contributions where we can make a real difference. The focus areas of the Sanlam Foundation are: consumer financial education, socio-economic development, and enterprise and supplier development.

The Sanlam Foundation allocates resources to selected, high-impact projects that represent the Sanlam purpose and align with the Sanlam Foundation’s guiding principles:

  • Socio-economic development
  • Corporate citizenship
  • Partnership and collaboration
  • Core business alignment
  • Value-and-brand fit
  • Holistic, systemic approach
  • Accountability
  • Sustainability
  • Employee involvement

The Sanlam Foundation can direct funding in South Africa only due to its mandate. However, the Sanlam Foundation and Sanlam Emerging Markets work with in-country partners to replicate the Sanlam Foundation’s core focus areas across the Rest of Africa, India and Malaysia. This will ensure that Sanlam Emerging Markets and our in-country partners have a similar focus, thereby broadening the impact of our business activities and contributing to financial resilience and prosperity across our markets. Find out more about these initiatives.

Our sustainability management framework is based on the core concepts of resilience, sustainable development, sustainable finance and stakeholder inclusiveness and aims to:

  • Provide strategic direction and inform decision-making, particularly where stakeholder trade-offs are evident;
  • Clarify governance and management structures to ensure sound oversight of material sustainability matters;
  • Structure the reporting focus areas per cluster and define the ways to measure progress;
  • Facilitate the flow of information to enable effective monitoring and reporting; and
  • Guide the allocation of resources.

The sustainability framework aligns with our strategic framework and ensures we follow our intent. Continuous transformation underpins all strategic pillars. Our approach to sustainability is also shaped by regulatory and voluntary frameworks, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and ratings criteria used by selected sustainability indices. These include:

  • The Companies Act 71 of 2008( as amended), which regulates how companies must operate and the legal limits within which companies must conduct their business.
  • The King IV Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2016, which is respected as one of the leading and most mature codes of corporate governance in the world.
  • The International Integrated Reporting Council’s Framework, which provides principles-based guidance for companies and other organisations preparing an integrated report.
  • Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which provides a benchmark for investors who recognise that sustainable business practices are critical to generating long-term value and who wish to reflect this belief in their investment portfolios.
  • FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index, which advances corporate sustainability practices and offers an objective way of assessing how corporates integrate environment, social and governance-related considerations into strategy.

We further adhere to the requirements and membership conditions for the following bodies:

  • We are an investor member of the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project)
  • We are a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investments
  • We are a signatory of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance
  • We are a member of ClimateWise
  • We are in partnership with the WWF-SA

We are Working on Strengthening Our Commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The goals provide a framework to end global poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. The SDGs call for collaboration between all sectors: private, public, grass roots and government.

As a diversified financial services group that operates across the African continent, India, Malaysia, Lebanon and selected developed markets, we have a significant opportunity to contribute to systemic and long-term sustainability. We have integrated the SDGs into our sustainability management framework and identified several goals we feel we can contribute toward through our business activities. Going forward, we plan to undertake an assessment of these goals to align them with our cluster initiatives and material sustainability matters as well as identify targets to enable our stakeholders to evaluate our contribution to the SDGs.

Celebrating 100 Years of Sanlam

On 8 June 2018, we celebrated Sanlam’s centenary – the day the company was registered 100 years ago. On that day we celebrated the talent, commitment and perseverance of the people who worked for Sanlam through ten decades. We reflected on the value delivered by a solid strategy and the ability to implement it, a strong brand, capital position and reputation.

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