In 2019 we celebrated 25 years of high growth and a different way of doing business. As we look to the next 25 we have a renewed focus on our place in the world and the kind of business we want to be.
We have the talent, the distribution footprint, the digital infrastructure, and the long-term ownership model upon which to build, continuing to attract fantastic businesses and people who know that together they are empowered to be greater than the sum of their parts, delivering their expertise and service to our clients without limits.
We also recognise the responsibility we have. We know the power of insurance to deliver change, we know how to listen to our clients, and we know that if we put our people first we can be part of the solution to the problems our clients and the wider world are facing.
Our long-term model reflects our determination to share our successes and grow in a responsible, sustainable way. This goes beyond our environmental and societal impacts. That’s why we created our Sustainability Committee, headed up by our non-executive director John Bernstein. Our approach has three pillars: Our own standards - focusing on the quality of our operations, our diversity and inclusion and the carbon footprint of our own operations; Giving back – focusing, through the Howden Group Foundation, on volunteering and charitable giving; and Innovation for change – focusing on, amongst other areas, products, digital tools, analytics and new capital identification and deployment to help deliver resilience to businesses and communities and to help with the transition to a greener world.
When a business puts its people first they feel happier, more fulfilled, and more empowered. That’s not just good for them – it's good for our clients, too. That’s why for us, People First is not a set of policies or guidelines: it is at the heart of everything we do.
We support our people’s aspirations, and give them the opportunity to make a difference. That’s it. No strings attached, no hoops to jump through. Opportunities are there for the taking, and our teams’ success benefits us all. It’s been true since day one, and it still stands today. Howden Group is built on a foundation of employee ownership, which is why we are proud that almost 35% of the shares in our group are owned by our people.
Our local, on-the-ground experts around the world form a network of shared skills and knowledge. Laws, cultures, businesses, and markets vary, but the connection between our people means that, wherever our clients want to do business, we can bring the expertise they need.
And it means that we can always connect the best people to deliver innovation for change. Be that offering clients a new way to navigate uncertainty with innovative reinsurance products, or working with the Danish Red Cross to place a revolutionary new bond to provide disaster relief funding.
Digital and Technology
The cyber revolution has affected everything – from politics and economics to health and communities. The world expects to receive its products and services in ever smarter, more efficient and more immediate ways. The insurance industry must address those expectations and become part of the solution.
In 2019 we launched HX to help us rise to the challenge. Their mission is to identify opportunities and deliver solutions that streamline our offering through data, tech, and analytics – making our customer experience more intuitive and informative across the board.
At Howden Group, we are committed to making a positive impact on the world around us. We do this through fundraising and volunteering, our commitment to protect the environment, and giving back through our charitable Foundation.
CSR and Volunteering
As a group we are keen to invest in the future - in young talent, new entrepreneurs, and the communities in which we live and work. That is why the three core pillars of our global CSR policy are Education, Entrepreneurship and the Environment.
All of our CSR work supports these three areas, and we encourage our employees to get involved in a way that suits them. Whatever they choose to do, the important thing is that they give back in some way and make a positive impact.
Howden Group Foundation
The Howden Group Foundation is a registered charity set up to support our communities and the great charitable work that our people are personally involved in. Chaired by our non-executive director Luis Munoz-Rojas, the Foundation has six key objectives: the relief of sickness, poverty, disasters and unemployment; the advancement of education; and environmental sustainability.
When our employees fundraise for charities that meet one or more of these objectives, the Foundation matches the money they raise. It also grants Investing in the Community Awards to grassroots causes, and supports the charities that our companies nominate each year.
Just knowing how much energy we use isn’t enough. We’re determined to reduce our environmental impact as much as we possibly can – continuing to build a sustainable business while reducing, replacing, and recycling.
In our London HQ, we have switched to renewable energy, proper cutlery, and coffee cups made from coffee husks. Even the tea bags in our meeting rooms are now biodegradable. As a result of choosing recycled and recyclable stationery, 75% of the products we use across the UK are now environmentally-friendly.
In Germany, our underwriting offices are run off renewable energy sources and in Spain, our printers use vegetable-based inks which have a production process which is less harmful to the environment.
In our Finnish broking operations all waste is recycled or burned and used as non-polluting energy.
Across our London and Bedford offices, we have reduced our paper usage by almost 30% over the past year. That’s a saving of 2.7 million sheets – which, laid end-to-end, would stretch from London to Beijing.
Howden Group is on a journey to become a truly sustainable business. To this end, we became a Signatory to the UN Global Compact – the largest network of sustainability-minded organisations worldwide. Along with more than 10,000 other businesses globally, we are promising to take responsibility for our impact and to work in a way that supports and benefits society. This includes measuring our business against the UN’s Ten Guiding Principles and reporting annually on our progress. View our first Communication on Progress as part of our commitment to the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact.
We are also members of ClimateWise – a network of insurance organisations using industry expertise to respond to the climate crisis. The network is facilitated by the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), which develops leadership and solutions for a sustainable economy. As part of our membership, we’ve agreed to annually report the ways we’re responding to and tackling climate change within our day-to-day business.