In today’s world, corporate sustainability has transformed into a marketing tool, with companies often falling short of walking the talk. For Britam, the appreciation of the tangible substance supporting its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) claims comes from customers, investors, and regulators.
The corporation’s ESG framework plays a crucial role in shaping Britam’s reputation and financial wellbeing. It enables the identification, prioritisation, and analysis of emerging business risks, thereby bulletproofing the future of a diversified financial services firm listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and expanding across seven African countries.
In the third year of implementing its EPIC² Strategy, anchored on Employees, Partnerships, Innovation, Clients, and Conduct, Britam responds to a rapidly changing environment. Placing customers at the core of its business, the strategy leverages partnerships, digital innovations, and data analytics to inform decision-making, reflecting the company’s purpose of safeguarding dreams and aspirations.
Britam consistently evaluates its contributions to society, recognising the significant indirect value it adds to the economy, society, and environment. Standard bodies and regulatory agencies, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) of the European Union (EU), and the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) created under the auspices of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation Trustees, have enhanced the landscape of sustainable materiality.
Britam’s current material topics align with evolving priorities and stakeholder expectations, staying true to the original assessment, the contemporary business landscape, and GRI guidelines. These include safeguarding the environment, promoting healthier lives and wellbeing, creating a positive impact on people, fostering collaboration, innovation, and technology, and upholding governance and ethics.
Before delving into the intricacies of Britam’s impactful ESG practices, it is crucial to first underscore the company’s unwavering commitment to sustainability at its core. Britam’s proactive stance begins with the establishment of an ESG Champion program, engaging over 100 registered staff across various departments. Spearheaded by the Group Managing Director (MD), Tom Gitogo, this initiative reflects a dedication to fostering a culture of responsibility and sustainability within the organisation. Moreover, Britam’s alignment as a signatory to the Nairobi Declaration on Sustainable Insurance emphasises the company’s active involvement in addressing significant challenges, ranging from climate change to social inequality. Additionally, as a member of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, Britam wholeheartedly embraces its fundamental responsibilities in areas such as human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption, solidifying its position as a champion of impactful and ethical business practices.
Harnessing the ‘E’ of ESG, Britam actively engages in environment-focused events, exemplified by its participation in the inaugural 2023 Africa Climate Summit. This involvement served the dual purpose of gaining relevant insights as well as showcasing innovative climate products.
Britam is committed to minimising its carbon footprint through targeted initiatives to reduce environmental impact. This includes significant investments in energy-efficient technologies, collaborative efforts with suppliers to improve overall supply chain sustainability, programs to reduce single-use plastics and promote recyclable materials, and initiatives fostering sustainable behaviour among employees. Additionally, Britam leverages cutting-edge technology to enhance energy efficiency and decrease emissions, promoting alternative transportation options like bicycles, public transit, or carpools among its workforce.
In terms of green technology, the iconic Britam Towers, standing at over 200 metres and holding the distinction of being the tallest structure in the country, is an EDGE-certified Grade A building. This certification system operates globally, focusing on enhancing the resource efficiency of buildings. In comparison to conventional structures, it incorporates elements such as natural daylighting, cross ventilation, and reduced dependence on air conditioning.
In the ongoing efforts against climate change, Britam recently introduced the first parametric Flood Insurance product in East Africa. According to World Bank data, around 2.5 million Kenyans have experienced the adverse effects of riverine and flash floods, resulting in damages exceeding KES 18 billion. Britam’s groundbreaking product is specifically designed to mitigate and protect against these losses.
Shifting the focus to the ‘S’ in ESG, Britam, as a market leader, actively contributes to communities through meaningful engagement and volunteering in various corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. The Britam Foundation is the driving force behind the Group’s CSR initiatives, emphasising support for health, education, sports, and performing arts to enhance the wellbeing of individuals across the region sustainably. For instance, in 2023, Britam sponsored notable events like the Nyeri Mountain to Mountain Ultra Marathon and the Friends of Karura Anniversary Race. Moreover, the company consistently supports golf tournaments, exemplified by the nationwide Britam Golf Circuit 2023.
Valuing the uniqueness and diversity of its people, Britam maintains a team of slightly over 900 individuals from varied backgrounds committed to serving customers across the Group. The gender ratio of men to women among staff is 55 to 45 percent, the board composition stands at 67 to 33 percent, and at the executive and senior leadership levels, it is 57 to 43 percent.
Britam has implemented a comprehensive Human Resource (HR) development program that spans training, employee wellness, appreciation, competitive salaries, career promotion, talent attraction, retention, motivation, and innovation. In a commitment to market competitiveness, the corporation diligently benchmarks its compensation and benefit plans for employees. This not only reflects the company’s ethos of prioritising its valued team members but also signifies its ongoing dedication to fostering professional growth and wellbeing within its walls.
Britam is unwavering in its commitment to the highest standards of corporate governance and business ethics, recognising their pivotal role in business performance. This commitment is evident in various aspects, including the corporate structure, board composition, business ethics, and anti-corruption policies. The corporation diligently adheres to Corporate Governance Guidelines set by regulatory authorities, both for its operations as a listed entity and those of its subsidiaries.
The core values and ethics of Britam are embedded in strategic and business objectives, aimed at achieving sustainable and profitable growth. Britam acknowledges its responsibilities to all its stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, employees, business partners, and the communities where it operates. The insurance giant has implemented policies and practices promoting a culture of compliance, honesty, and ethical behaviour. Governance-strengthening policies encompass areas like procurement, insider trading, whistle-blowing, new directors’ appointments, stakeholder engagement, code of conduct, and data protection.
Financial statements align with regulatory requirements, with Britam being among the first Kenyan insurance companies to adopt IFRS 17 standards in 2023, enhancing transparency in financial disclosures. The company actively engages with its numerous stakeholders through platforms such as customer events, town halls, employee engagement programs, online interactions, and corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives.
In supplier relationships, Britam integrates sustainability into sourcing, procurement, and supplier management activities. This includes setting clear expectations and standards through the Supplier Code of Conduct, robust self-assessment, due diligence, and monitoring processes. Communication channels such as portals, emails, conference calls, and face-to-face meetings facilitate efficient engagement with suppliers and partners, fostering positive environmental, social, and ethical impact.
In summary, Britam exemplifies a holistic commitment to ESG practices, integrating sustainability into its core operations. Through innovation, governance, and community engagement, Britam stands as a beacon of responsible and impactful corporate leadership.