Our strategy

From our origins safeguarding communities after the Great Fire of London, to modern day road and water safety, we have been helping our customers look after things that matter most to them for over 300 years.

We want to be a responsible business that makes all our stakeholders proud. We cannot do this alone. Which is why our Corporate Responsibility strategy is called Making Things Better Together.

Making things better together

See some of the ways RSA is making things better together for people, communities and the wider world

Our Making Things Better Together vision

Today’s social and environmental challenges are complex – from greater demand for fewer natural resources to limited employment prospects for young people.

As society’s risk managers, we know that individual choices can create a more secure future for all. So as we protect customers on their journeys, we also work to make the roads safer. As we protect homes, families and businesses, we help communities to thrive. And as we support people in managing uncertainty, we try to tackle our greatest environmental threats.

Addressing tomorrow’s risks requires action today. Our vision for a responsible business that helps meet society’s challenges means we are Making Things Better Together in practical ways.

Our strategy themes

Our strategy focuses on four distinct themes, all of which have a direct impact on our company. For more information on why we chose these themes, see our issues below.

  • Safe, Secure World means keeping people safe in their daily lives – on the road, in the water and in their homes and businesses.
  • Thriving Communities shows how we are educating and inspiring future talent, supporting social entrepreneurs and dedicating time to causes our people are passionate about.
  • Sustainable Future details our commitment to accelerating the transition to a low carbon future.
  • And in Responsible Business, we demonstrate that our company can operate in a way that makes our stakeholders proud.

"We are now a stronger, more focused, forward-looking international insurer that aims to be best in class in our markets, for our customers, shareholders and communities."

Stephen Hester, RSA Group chief executive

A message from our CEO

For many people around the world, 2016 was a year of uncertainty. Political change, global security and pressing environmental issues, including the wildfires in Canada, the country’s costliest natural disaster, all reminded us of life’s inherent unpredictability. Safeguarding customers against everyday risk is at the heart of our business at RSA. As the events of 2016 proved, our work to mitigate and prevent the unexpected is more important to people’s lives than ever before.

Having completed the financial turnaround of the business we are now a stronger, more focused, forward-looking international insurer that aims to be best in class in our markets, for our customers, shareholders and communities.

Our work is already paying off. Amid volatile financial trading in 2016, we outperformed the market’s expectations, returning record-breaking underwriting profits of £380m, up 73% from 2015 and an operating profit of £655m, 25% up from 2015.

Our Corporate Responsibility strategy is part of that success story. Making Things Better Together is our response to the most important material challenges that our business, society and the world faces today. In 2016, we reviewed those challenges to ensure we continue to prioritise what matters most to our stakeholders and business.

While our review confirmed that our strategic priorities are still aligned to the most pressing issues, there is a greater need for organisations like ours to address risk avoidance, not simply risk transfer. This means actively helping customers avoid risk, accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy and improving resilience to extreme weather. It also means an additional focus to ensure we keep performing in a world of rapid digital innovation and increased instability.

2016 saw us continue to help customers lead safer, more secure lives. We promoted road safety, especially for younger drivers, and kept people safe in the water, too. We helped 28,500 children in Sweden learn to swim and urged more than two million adults to be realistic about their own swimming ability.

We supported thriving communities by continuing our partnership with the School of Social Entrepreneurs in the UK and Canada, helping even more social businesses prosper. We help to develop the UK’s future talent through our excellent Ready, Set, Achieve employability workshops. I was fortunate to be part of one workshop at Barking Food Bank in June, where I met ex-offenders and learned about the barriers they face in attempting to return to work.

We demonstrated our global leadership in renewable energy by insuring cutting-edge technology projects, like floating offshore wind farms which have a real potential to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. We reduced our own carbon emissions too, meeting our group-wide carbon reduction target two years ahead of time, cutting our emissions by 15% per person from our 2015 baseline. We achieved this through property rationalisation, encouraging sustainable working practices and opting for sustainable alternatives where possible.

We also proved that we are there for our customers in their time of need, with an exceptional response to the wildfires in Alberta, Canada. Our dedicated colleagues worked together around the clock to keep those affected safe and provide the help they needed. Looking after our customers in this way is at the core of our business. We can be proud of the remarkable support our people gave to our customers during this crisis.

All our achievements are made possible thanks to the commitment of our people across the globe, who last year volunteered an impressive 6,081 hours for causes important in our local communities. In a rapidly evolving world, our people continue to live our values and make our purpose real: Making Things Better Together.

Our Issues

We launched Making Things Better Together – our ambitious, five-year Corporate Responsibility strategy – back in 2014. Formulated through extensive consultation with customers, colleagues, investors, regulators and industry associations, it identified the most relevant environmental, social and ethical issues for a leading insurance company such as ours.

The resulting strategy targets four key areas, all deeply connected to our business, where we can exert the greatest impact: Safe, Secure World, Thriving Communities, Sustainable Future and Responsible Business.

In 2016, to mark the halfway point of our strategy and in recognition of the rapidly shifting political, social, economic and environmental landscape, we conducted a formal review to ensure we continue addressing today’s principal issues for our stakeholders.

Using the latest industry reports, we prioritised the most important current topics. We then engaged external sustainability experts, our industry and our senior leaders to verify and refine that list.

Our review highlighted 15 issues of significant, material value to our business and stakeholders. Some of these were new, some came with new emphasis, but overall the findings largely confirmed and mapped to our existing approach. The top five issues – ensuring high quality management and governance, delivering excellent customer service, making insurance more accessible to everyone, safeguarding customers’ data and helping customers avoid risk – are all specifically addressed through our current Corporate Responsibility strategy.

Our review showed that our plan remains on track and our strategy themes remain unchanged. However, we updated some elements of focus within our four key strategy areas:

Safe, Secure World
Reframed our most material issue, ‘helping customers avoid risks’, to emphasise not just risk transfer but active risk avoidance. For example, as in our road safety campaigns encouraging customers to drive safely and be aware of other road users.

Thriving Communities
Identified a new issue reflecting our desire to help reduce unemployment within our local communities. This is particularly demonstrated through our work to increase employability skills for young people and support the growth of innovative social enterprises.

Sustainable Future
Clearly stating our intention to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy and improve resilience to extreme weather. Also adding a new material issue, ‘investing responsibly’, echoing growing investor concern for environmental, social and governance factors when choosing investments.

Responsible Business
Established a number of new issues related to the current operational environment. These reflect, in particular, the breakneck pace of digital innovation and the perception of an increasingly unstable world. Therefore, we have clarified our commitment to our own resilience and ensured we have the right people, products and processes in place to compete in times of change.

By undertaking this review and sharpening the focus on our key issues, we have made certain that our Corporate Responsibility strategy is structured around the most important concerns for our stakeholders. In turn, this helps ensure our work drives tangible results and delivers meaningful value to everyone and everything our business operations impact. We are Making Things Better Together.

Our Targets

Each of our four strategy themes has specific targets which we report against annually. The table below sets out these targets and the associated Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for measuring our progress. Detailed performance against these targets is reported in the relevant theme’s dedicated webpages.

CR Theme Targets Key Perfomance Indicators (KPIs)
Safe, Secure World Run at least one safety campaign every year in each of our core regions by 2018 KPI 1: Number of safety campaigns run each year in each core region
KPI 2: Number of people reached by each campaign
Thriving Communities Run a community programme in each core region that engages and develops our people, supports our local communities and makes a difference for our customers KPI 1: Amount of community investment, including:
• Charitable spend
• Value of volunteering hours (and number of volunteering opportunities/hours)
• Amount of employee funds raised for charity
KPI 2: % of volunteering opportunities supporting employability skills or social enterprise
Sustainable Future Reduce our group carbon footprint by 12% per employee to 1.9tCO2e from a 2015 baseline by 2018 KPI 1: Tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent presented as both actual (tCO2e) and per employee (tCO2e/FTE)
Sustainable Future Deliver at least one awareness/support campaign per year in each of our core regions to support our customers in adapting to climate change and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions KPI 2: Number of awareness/support campaigns

Our governance approach

Our Corporate Responsibility (CR) strategy is managed by our Group CR function with oversight and challenge from our Director of Corporate Communications. From September 2016, Charlotte Heiss, Group Chief Legal Officer and Company Secretary, and William McDonnell, Group Chief Risk Officer, became our Executive co-sponsors for CR, reporting to the Group Executive Committee and Group Board annually on activities and progress against targets. Within each region, country-level senior management have oversight of the strategy. The implementation and delivery of activities to meet targets is managed by local CR representatives.

We are strengthening sustainability across the Group by working with functional departments such as Human Resources, Risk Management, Corporate Real Estate and Procurement to continue to integrate sustainability into our core business processes. Through collaboration, we initiate projects and drive employee engagement to encourage each and every one of us to Make Things Better Together.

Our strategy is underpinned by corporate CR polices outlining our approach to human rights, the environment and community and charities. Applicable to all operating countries and subsidiaries, these policies help manage our operational, regulatory and reputational risks while putting CR at the heart of our business.