Santam plays a leading role in the short-term insurance industry
in South Africa. We endeavour to deliver and perform beyond
stakeholder expectations, we invest in our people and we have a
strong cooperative approach when the company has to deal with
long-term issues where many stakeholders are involved. We have
entrenched these qualities in our business philosophy and culture
One of the things that struck me during my
first year as Chairman of the board is how the principles of
sustainability underlie the entire company's thinking, planning and
It has been an internal approach guiding our
investment decisions and risk profile and an outward approach. This
has been characterised by a willingness to engage, consult and
co-operate with a number of institutions, individuals and
The sustainability agenda of most South African
companies was dominated during 2011 by COP17 - the United Nations'
Climate Change Conference in Durban. At COP17 itself, Santam
partnered with the UNEP FI, ClimateWise and the National Business
Initiative in offering a side event on: Climate risk adaptation:
Necessary and Possible, where we were a participant and active
observer. We took the learnings and insights from this major global
event and we will incorporate these into Santam's sustainability
initiatives in future. And, we will continue actively exploring
ways we can make a positive difference to climate change through
This is yet another example of how Santam
initiates, engages in, assimilates and lives the principles of
sustainability in all its forms.
We continue to manage sustainability according
to the ten sustainability components which are material to the
company. These are managed according to clear policies and
well-defined strategies and targets. As a board, we rely on the
sustainability committee (which will in future be reconstituted as
the social, ethics and sustainability committee) for guidance and
reporting on these components. These ten components are discussed
in detail later in this report.
We would like to thank Namane Magau,
ex-chairperson, for her commitment and guidance. We welcome Dawn
Marole as the new chairperson of our social, ethics and
sustainability committee. We are confident that under her
leadership, the committee will continue to ensure the effective and
successful integration of sustainable business practices into
Santam - and thereby ensure the sustainability of the company and
make a difference in the environment in which we operate.
The mandate of the committee is to minimise the
risk associated with social, economic and environmental impacts,
including those of stakeholder activism and government regulation.
The committee adds value by monitoring and guiding management in
considering stakeholders, regulations and performance in the case
of each of the ten components.
As I mentioned in my Chairman's letter in our
2011 integrated report, we operate in a very complex environment
under considerable uncertainty. Under these conditions, and with a
short-term insurance perspective, we are often in a position to
identify trends at an early stage - a perspective that also offers
us the opportunity to take a leading role in addressing such a
One such instance is the concerning increase in
economic crime in South Africa. These crimes have a direct impact
on sustainability as they affect the financial viability of various
businesses within the company. They also affect society and
employee morale, business reputation and trustworthiness, and our
relationships with business partners and regulators.
Santam is serious about creating an ethical
culture, which we believe is fundamental to sustainability. We are
vigilant in establishing proactive fraud prevention and detection
initiatives. Where we find evidence of crime, we investigate and
apply a zero tolerance approach. However, this remains an issue
that demands an even higher level of stakeholder engagement,
involvement and commitment - to the extent that we have to address
this as a nation.
Other long-term commitments toward
sustainability include youth development, especially by improving
living conditions in the communities from which we draw our
business partners, employees and future clients.
For the people of Santam, sustain-ability means
"insurance, good and proper" - and it has become the only way that
we can and will do business. As Chairman, I recognise and
appreciate this approach for the way in which it fosters integrity
and a service orientation approach.
I want to encourage all our stake-holders to
partner with us in working towards a new year and a future that
will continue sustainably meeting the needs of business, society
and the environment. Working towards a better future are not simply
words - they are a social imperative for us all to aspire
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