Our impacts reach beyond our customers, suppliers and employees to the wider communities in which we operate. Managing all of our impacts, including those that affect society at large, is important in creating a sustainable business that delivers long-term success for all those it affects.
We work hard to maintain good relationships with all our stakeholders and the communities in which we operate, protecting our corporate reputation and helping us achieve longterm success.
As financial institutions have come under greater scrutiny than ever before, it has been more important than ever to maintain our support for the communities in which we operate. Our broader role in society is of particular importance to us because, as one of the leading financial services providers in Southern Africa, we are a significant participant in these countries' economies and societies. In South Africa we are committed to playing a leading role in the country's economic transformation and at Old Mutual South Africa (OMSA) the initiatives we run are underpinned by four main themes which form our strategy for helping to transform the national economy:
- Poverty eradication through job creation;
- Capacity building and addressing skills shortages in national, provincial and local government departments;
- Property and infrastructure development;
- Increasing the national knowledge base, focusing specifically on equipping learners with more sophisticated mathematical and scientific skills.
Our investment decisions have an impact on society through the projects we finance and the companies in which we invest. These activities generate wealth for our customers and shareholders and we work to minimise, as far as possible, any potential negative impacts they may have on society.
So what did we do in 2009 to manage and build on our positive impact on society
Promoting financial education and inclusion
As a financial service provider we believe we have a commitment not only to our customers but also to society as a whole, helping people better understand the financial marketplace and the choices they make in spending and saving. This ensures that they understand, and can benefit from, the products and services we provide. We use our financial knowledge and skills to support financial education in the countries where we operate.
Across the Group we run many financial inclusion projects. Where possible, we encourage our employees to pass on their own skills and knowledge: for example, Old Mutual plc has entered into partnership with Young Enterprise London to deliver a Personal Economics Programme targeting young people in London, making us the key private sector supporter for financial literacy education in Southwark schools and providing opportunities for Old Mutual employees to deliver financial literacy classes to students.
In South Africa we see financial education as a core part of our responsibility to help the nation break the cycle of generational poverty and the debt trap that so many find themselves in. We continue to deliver our On The Money programme through OMSA, a financial education initiative that has benefited over 50,000 South Africans since it was launched. In addition, in 2009 we introduced our Financial Wellbeing Programme to help retirement fund members plan for retirement.
Supporting development in our communities
We provide a wide range of opportunities for our employees to donate their time and effort to help support their local communities through activities including mentoring, participation in environmental projects, fundraising for good causes, and health and welfare projects.
These activities are usually tailored to the needs of the communities in which we operate. We recognise the importance of continuing our support at a time when communities are most likely to need our help. This is evident in the fact that Skandia UK broke its annual fundraising record in 2009. Skandia UK employees have joined over 20 different types of volunteering activities and have given nearly 600 hours to the local community through teambuilding events.
The Old Mutual (South Africa) Foundation enhanced its working relationship with the Nedbank Foundation by jointly hosting the Old Mutual Nedbank Community Builder of the Year for the second year running, to honour and recognise our Staff Community Builders. We also joined forces in support of Do It Day, the national volunteer campaign spearheaded by Greater Good South Africa, further entrenching our position as leaders in volunteering in South Africa.
Across the Group we also support our local communities through financial assistance for charity and philanthropic donations: we donated a total of £10.1 million in 2009 to support community development projects. These included education, community development and socioeconomic development projects which are most relevant to the local communities in which we operate.
Making responsible investment decisions
Our Group Investment Statement outlines our approach to social and environmental issues in investment decisions for both our own capital investments and those we make on behalf of our customers.
An important element of our investment approach is to give our customers ethical investment choices where possible. For example, in the UK over 30 funds we offer our customers are ethical and environmental funds. In Sweden, customers are able to invest in the Ideas for Life Mutual Fund which donates 2% of its profits to charity; this amounted to £300,000 in 2009 and funded 216 different projects supporting young people in the Nordic region. In South Africa, the Infrastructural, Developmental & Environmental Assets (IDEAS) Managed Fund is a socially responsible investment vehicle marketed and managed jointly by Unity Incorporation (representing a group of seven trade unions) and Old Mutual Investment Group South Africa; it invests in assets that contribute to the sustainable economic and social development of disadvantaged communities.