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How We Govern Sustainability

We Have Specific Governance Functions in Place

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. Find more detail about our strategy in the Integrated Report.

The Role of the SES Committee

The Social, Ethics and Sustainability (SES) committee monitors and advises on all environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters and relevant issues that significantly impact our business and stakeholders. The SES committee reports on the progress of our sustainability journey through quarterly feedback to the Board, and to stakeholders via this website. The chair of the SES committee attends the annual general meeting. Find out more about the mandate of the committee in the 2019 Sanlam Governance Report.

In addition to the oversight provided by the SES committee, we have systems and processes in place to ensure we manage sustainability responsibly. 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 approach. Read more about our stakeholders.

We Track Sustainability Performance

We track our sustainability performance against leading national and international codes of best practice.

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

Following the 2018 reporting process, the sustainability team provided feedback to each cluster in terms of the following reporting quality indicators:

These assessments informed the 2019 sustainability reporting process:

Read about our performance in terms of the material focus areas in the Sanlam Group and Cluster 2019 Resilience Reports.

We Take Care of Our Clients

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 implementation of the TCF principles in the Sanlam Personal Finance 2019 Cluster Resilience Report.

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 in which we operate, 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

We Take Care of Our Employees

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.

The HR chief executive is a member of the Sanlam Group executive team.

In 2019, Group HR reviewed its strategy against the requirements and intent of the four-pillar strategy, the Group Business Philosophy and Sanlam’s core leadership competencies. From these we developed the Group HR mandate and responsibilities.

We provide leadership and guidance to the Group on human capital matters, including the development and implementation of policies, facilitating communication and collaboration while being accountable to the Group Executive committee. Group HR’s overarching responsibilities include:

  • Formulate and implement Group HR strategy
  • Establish and monitor HR governance
  • Identify opportunities for Group-wide leverage
  • Enhance visibility and impact of HR function
  • Assess readiness of HR function for key initiatives
  • Champion change within and across Sanlam
  • Ensure compliance with legal requirements and organisational mandates related to HR including B-BBEE and employment equity
  • Minimise HR or people-related risks
  • Act expediently and decisively on matters under our jurisdiction
  • Operational and strategic support to the Group Office HR function

Group HR Strategic Focus Areas

Read more about our initiatives to do more for Sanlam employees in the Sanlam Group 2019 Resilience Report.

We Contribute Towards a Sustainable Society

The Sanlam Foundation was established in 2011. It is our primary corporate responsibility vehicle and provides a co-ordinated 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, socioeconomic development, and enterprise and supplier development.

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 ensures 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.

Read more about the ways in which the Sanlam Foundation creates resilience in the Sanlam Group 2019 Resilience Report or on the website.

Assurance of sustainability indicators

We are committed to providing our stakeholders with information and data they can trust. This year we contracted with sustainability assurance agency, Verify CO2, to test and provide independent third-party verification of the Group’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory for 2019.

The Group’s key objectives for undergoing a third-party verification are to:

  • Confirm that the underlying data, methodologies and emission factors used to calculate the Group’s GHG emissions inventory are complete and accurate;
  • Add credibility to the Group’s GHG disclosures; and
  • Enhance the Group’s performance for the CDP 2020 Climate Change submission.

An in-depth, systematic audit has been done in accordance with the ISO 14064-3:2006 standard. The verification process included a high-level review of the Group and its business activities to ensure that boundaries are complete, followed by a risk assessment, GHG conversion checks and data scrutiny.

AQRate verified Sanlam Group’s B-BBEE status as a level 1 for the financial year ended 31 December 2019 according to the amended Financial Sector Generic Scorecard for long-term assurers.

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