Our role in the global sustainable development agenda
We strongly support the aims and objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seek to address the world’s most urgent economic, environmental and social challenges and form part of a wider 2050 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As a universal agreement to work towards a better and more sustainable future, the SDGs closely align with our new purpose – enabling a more resilient future. Our sustainability focus areas continue to align to and support the advancement of the SDGs.
Integrating the SDGs across our business
We acknowledge that all of the SDGs are relevant to our business in some way. However, we can contribute to the achievement of some SDGs more directly than to others. In 2022, we continued to address our five priority SDGs (outlined below), which reflect the areas that most closely align to our purpose and strategic business priorities. This is where we can have the greatest impact given our role as an international insurer and reinsurer.
Alongside our five priority SDG, Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals continues to underpin our stakeholder engagement, assisting us to work towards achievement of the wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2020, we joined the United Nations Global Compact, the global corporate sustainability initiative, and committed to the Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. We are also signatories to the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (NZAOA) and a supporter of the Climate Change Roadmap Towards a Net-Zero and Resilient Future (Roadmap) of the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) in our home market.
We will continue to leverage our partnerships to collaborate on key sustainability topics, and seek to collaborate with industry, government, community partners and other stakeholders to help advance, and one day achieve, the SDGs.
2020 SDG analysis
In 2020, we refreshed our deep dive SDG prioritisation analysis to ensure continued relevance to our business and stakeholders. The analysis was updated for all 17 SDGs to reconfirm those most closely aligned to our purpose, strategic business priorities, Sustainability Framework, products and services and initiatives across our global business.
We used two lenses for this analysis:
- Direct and indirect impacts of the SDGs on our business and stakeholders, including our people, customers and community.
- Opportunities to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs through our products and services, advice, thought leadership and community initiatives.
Our analysis by division (Australia Pacific, North America and International) considered strategic priorities, business activities and product lines. We then engaged with senior members of our divisions to review and agree key insights. This process helped identify nuances enabling us to prioritise our efforts at both a local and global level.
Our Five Priority SDGs
End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Building the financial and risk resilience of our customers is core to our purpose. We protect people, businesses and communities against risks - contributing to their long-term financial wellbeing. An accident, illness or disaster can quickly plunge customers into financial distress. Providing insurance protection for customers and communities helps aid recovery, preventing them from failing into, or deeper into, poverty. On the United Nations’ International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction in October 2022, we relaunched our global Disaster Relief and Resilience Partnership with Red Cross and Save the Children committing to a further three years of working together and increased funding. Over the next three years, we’ll grow our focus on climate risk adaptation and mitigation.
Material topics: Climate risks and opportunities, ESG risk management, Human rights and modern slavery, Responsible investment, Responsible underwriting
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
With operations in key markets internationally, we believe that inclusive and sustainable economic growth is fundamental to our business and our success. Our strategic focus on innovation and technology enables us to promote economic growth that is impactful. We provide insurance products supportive of decent work, such as our workers’ compensation and accident and health solutions. A continued focus on protecting labour and human rights within our business, and across our supply chain, is essential to ensuring that we remain a responsible employer and business partner. In 2021 we released our Group Human Rights Policy outlining the guiding principles we are committed to adhering to as part of our role as an employer, insurer, investor and business partner.
In 2021, QBE assessed that 11 of 31 countries where we have people located are considered to be medium risk to high risk in relation to potential human rights issues. Five of these countries are deemed to be high-risk, and we used reputable sources to understand the potential human rights risks. We designed a checklist of risk indicators to further assess human rights risks controls within our workforce management practices.
The Group Sustainability and ESG Risk teams engaged with local teams to understand contexts and cultural sensitivities around a wide range of human rights topics. Our assessment indicated that we have adequate and relevant controls in the form of local procedures, and processes in place to protect our employees’ rights wherever we operate. The process also highlighted areas of opportunities in how we consider certain human rights at a country level, such as the relevance of the right of assembly or explicit acceptance of LGBTIQ+ rights. We will continue to engage with our local teams to strengthen existing controls and processes to protect our people.
Material topics: Corporate governance and compliance, Culture, ESG risk management, Human rights and modern slavery, Inclusion of diversity, Innovation and technology, Privacy, Responsible investment, Responsible underwriting, Trust and transparency
Reduce inequality within and among countries
QBE is committed to an inclusive culture as part of our QBE DNA and aligned to our updated Inclusion of Diversity Policy. We seek to empower and promote equality and the inclusion of all, irrespective of age, gender, ability, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic or other status. Wherever we operate we respect internationally recognized human rights principles. We retain a strong strategic focus on inclusion of diversity across our business.
In 2022, we continued to make headway towards our target of 40% women in leadership* across QBE, with an increase over last year from 35.9% to 38.6%. This year, QBE achieved our 2025 goal of 40% women on the Group Board early, reaching 44% with the appointment of Yasmin Allen in July 2022. To further QBE’s commitment to gender diversity, in May 2022, QBE became the first insurer to sign up to HESTA’s 40:40 Vision, an initiative supporting diversity in executive leadership in ASX300 companies. We pledged to have 40% women, 40% men and 20% any gender on the Group Executive Committee by 2030 – something we already currently meet, with 45% women.
Material topics: Culture, Inclusion of diversity, Innovation and technology, Human rights and modern slavery, Trust and transparency
* 1 Level 0 (GEC) and the next 3 tiers of employees
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
We understand that cities are rapidly changing and under pressure due to increasing urbanization, changing transport and energy systems, building codes and exposure to climate and health risks. We are committed to building on our existing data, products, services, initiatives and advice, and collaborating with industry, government and other stakeholders to identify sustainable solutions to reduce risk and enhance inclusion, safety and resilience.
Each year, QBE Foundation partners with Leading Cities to run the QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge, a global competition seeking entrepreneurs whose ventures drive resiliency in cities. In 2022, Automedi won the challenge's grand prize of $100,000 to help bring its technology and services to the international market with the aim of building more sustainable societies. A UK-based manufacturing platform, Automedi is the world’s first decentralised circular microeconomy, converting plastic waste into community products at the point of use.
Material topics: Climate risks and opportunities, Innovation and technology
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
As a general insurer, we are acutely aware of the risks and opportunities presented by climate change. We are well-positioned to use our industry expertise to help customers, partners and communities mitigate these risks, and support the uptake of new ideas, opportunities and technologies in the transition to a net-zero economy, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement. We are committed to being a net-zero emissions organisation across our operations by 2030 and through our investment and underwriting activities by 2050.
In 2022, we extended our commitment to net-zero across our operations from Scope 1 and 2, to include material scope 3 emissions by 2030. We have also extended our operational targets to include a commitment to formal engagement on net-zero progress with large suppliers, with the goal of setting targets for those large suppliers by 2025. QBE will also influence through advocacy, either directly or through industry alliances and our associated actions with a focus on influencing the reduction of real-world emissions.
Material topics: Climate risks and opportunities, ESG risk management, Innovation and technology, Responsible investment, Responsible underwriting