In early 2019, Prudential established its Ethics function; subsequently renaming it to Ethics & Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) in 2021 given the growing emphasis on ESG. Its role is to ensure Prudential stays true to its commitment as an ethical and sustainable business for customers and partners, and to deliver on their purpose of helping people get the most out of life. Prudential recently pledged to become a “net zero” asset owner by 2050, supporting low-carbon transition. Actions to help deliver the objectives include a 25% carbon reduction by 2025, and divestment from coal.
Having released its second voluntary Sustainability Report recently, how have the firm’s ESG principles evolved? El Lynn Yeoh, Head of Ethics & ESG, Prudential Singapore, tells us more about the company’s plans to integrate sustainability into its business strategy, and how they can achieve a positive and lasting social impact. The future of our generations, after all, hinges on what we do today.
Our ESG strategy is built around three core pillars: Accessibility, Stewardship, and Capital.
We aim to make health and financial security accessible through digital health innovation, inclusive offerings and digital financial literacy. By decarbonising our investment portfolio, we want to minimise the human impacts of climate change via responsible stewardship. And lastly, we aim to build social capital through digital responsibility, and promote diversity, inclusion and belonging in our workplace.
In relation to the first pillar, we have Pulse by Prudential, our health and wellness application, that helps people live well for longer. It is a core part of how we make health and wellness affordable and accessible. A complimentary app, Pulse uses artificial intelligence-powered tools that enable people to take control of their health and finances anytime, anywhere.
There is a consistent theme of inclusivity that permeates our purpose and ESG strategy. When we talk about making health and financial security accessible, how do we ensure people have access to our products and services, especially the underserved segments?
Another area where inclusivity matters is the transition to a low carbon economy. Countries, companies and communities will be impacted by this change. Hence, it is important that our support in the transition to a low carbon economy is a fair and inclusive one that leaves no communities behind.
Then there’s diversity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace. This is where some of our work in ethics comes in, for example, how do we protect people from discrimination and ensure leaders lead with fairness.
Sustainability isn’t just another buzzword for us. We understand the importance of integrating it into our operations and business strategy.
We only have one planet and our resources are finite. If we do not hold ourselves, the present generation, accountable for our actions and practices, future generations will not have access to social, economic and environmental opportunities enjoyed by us.
Last year, 3,022 individuals from low-income families received Accidental Death Cover as part of our Spark Kindness Movement. We are also on track to achieving gender pay parity for senior managers and above by end of this year.
As outlined in our 2019 Sustainability Report, we’ve committed S$200 million of our total assets under management (AUM) into ESG funds by 2021. We have invested S$25 million in the Asia Sustainable Bond Fund so far, and we are hopeful that we will meet our S$200 million ESG investment target by end of the year.
Start by identifying your values. When integrating ESG considerations, evaluate which ESG factors resonate most with you based on your values, such as climate change, equalities or labour rights. Give some thought to impact investing or ESG funds, including those that exclude stocks related to fossil fuels, tobacco or unsustainable palm oil.
The pandemic has also shown that ESG funds perform better over the long term. Many companies now seek to embody ESG principles, and customers no longer need to assume that sustainable investing sacrifices performance or that it’s a niche strategy. In fact, integrating ESG considerations in itself can be a differentiated driver of returns.
As an organisation, Prudential will continue to put forward its ESG strategy to achieve healthier and wealthier outcomes for all. To review our latest Sustainability Report, click here.