Steering AIA Philippines: Towards a purpose-driven sustainable future
Perhaps by now, you are familiar with my personal story that led to finding my purpose: of losing my father to cancer at a young age, and taking the lead in the family to become the head of the household. Many years later, here I am again taking the lead, now the captain of an even bigger ship.
We have changed our ship’s name recently to AIA Philippines, but we are still the same insurance company, the Philam Life many generations of Filipinos have trusted for over 70 years. While many things have changed in the course of its history, our mission to race against risk to protect Filipino families has not changed. But this time, we are expanding this mission, driven by our Purpose of helping our customers live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives.
One aspect of this ship that keeps a relatively low profile is our corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts under Philam Foundation, with specific focus on wellness, education and financial inclusion. For over 20 years, Philam Foundation has spearheaded our efforts to give back to the community, championing various programs that support initiatives to help the medical community deal with the cancer problem via ALPHA, address the low level of financial literacy via My Peso and I and Philam SAVES, and build school buildings to make education more accessible to students in far flung areas with Philam Paaralan.
Last year, we took a step back and reviewed our CSR efforts. What we were doing were impressive initiatives that allow us to give back to the community. But as one of the biggest life insurance companies in the Philippines, we felt that it’s not enough. There is a compulsion to take a more leadership role in addressing environmental and social issues to demonstrate good corporate citizenship. It’s no longer enough to give a portion of profits to do good, but the higher expectation now is to embed sustainability practices into our day to day business to ensure a lasting impact in addressing these issues.
With the guidance of our parent company, AIA Group, we patterned our own Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Strategy on these five pillars: Health and Wellness, Green Operations, Sustainable Investment, People and Culture, and Effective Governance. These pillars will influence all our future business decisions, guided by our Operating Philosophy of doing the right thing, and designed to help us stay true to our Purpose.
The Five Pillars to Building a Sustainable Future
Health and Wellness is rooted within our purpose and with a pandemic still looming, continues to be a relevant concern. Easily, we track our progress in this pillar by monitoring the number of lives we save through our protection products and the healthy outcomes of our customers engaged in AIA Vitality, our game changing wellness program that incentivizes members with rewards for knowing and improving their health.
Another concern that affects all of us is climate change and its impact on health. Big corporations like ours need to take a more proactive role in adjusting our operations to reduce our environmental impact. Through Green Operations, we have started taking action towards reducing our carbon footprint by adopting industry-recognized green building standards and environmental management best practices. The shift to digital has also contributed to this pillar, with a significant reduction in paper usage.
At AIA Philippines, the savings entrusted to us by our customers will go into Sustainable Investments. To ensure that these industries are aligned with our sustainability goals, we adhere to the ESG standards set by the AIA Group, excluding non-compliant sectors and monitoring the carbon footprint of investible companies. To date, we are in the process of divesting our investments in industries that do not meet these ESG standards.
As a company with a long-term view, we understand the need to cultivate and develop our People and Culture. We want our people to succeed and as such, we create a fair and supportive workplace that cultivates an empowered culture. We encourage diversity and inclusion, ensuring that our people’s growth is unhampered by their age or gender. We provide learning opportunities to ensure that they are equipped with the tools they need for success.
But at the end of the day, our responsibility to our customers means that we must be able to honor our commitment when the time comes that they need us. Espousing Effective Governance means that we must operate at the highest standards of responsible business practice while effectively managing risk, without sacrificing innovation and agility.
What’s In It For You
Transforming an organization to become sustainable is not easy. Our biggest challenge is evolving—our processes, internal policies, business model and our people. As a 74-year-old company, this is a huge undertaking, which is why we need to manage it carefully. To succeed, we first need to believe in these pillars and understand why we are doing it. We do not want to just deliver results but also focus on the process by which we deliver these results.
Our outlook is long-term. We are strengthening AIA Philippines so that a hundred years from now and beyond, our customers can count on us to continue delivering on our commitment.
We want to be with organizations and people who do things with meaningful purpose. We want to inspire other organizations to follow suit—how a dinosaur of a business is now making changes to keep up with the times, grounded on its responsibility to the communities it serves by embracing sustainability practices.
We are AIA Philippines and by driving our ESG agenda, we bring to life our Purpose of helping Filipinos live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives.
Follow AIA Philippines CEO Kelvin Ang on Instagram @keepingupwithkelvin.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.