How does MetLife define sustainability and what are the company’s priorities on this front?
The very nature of MetLife’s business is to promote a sustainable future for all of our stakeholders. For us, sustainability is about living up to our promises now and into the future, providing benefits to all stakeholders: our employees, our customers, our communities, our shareholders, and the broader environment. It means making a positive impact on society and ensuring the long-term value of the company.
There are many ways we make our positive impact felt around the world. Our priorities include:
- As a provider of financial products and services — We provide products and services that help ensure people have greater financial stability. We drive innovation and enhance access for the underserved so everyone can have more opportunities for a confident future.
- As an employer — We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, ensuring a welcoming and healthy work environment, and are committed to having progressive employee policies.
- As an investor — We incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles in our evaluation of investment decisions, and support communities with billions in capital and assets.
- As a steward of the environment — We were the first U.S. insurance company to achieve carbon neutrality in 2016 and now, we have met or exceeded each of our environmental goals for 2020.
- As a supporter of important causes — Our philanthropy has provided millions of dollars towards improving people’s financial health, while our employees have volunteered more than 100,000 hours worldwide.
MetLife has a long history dedicated to corporate responsibility…what was a key highlight for 2019 and what does the future of sustainability look like for you?
We welcome our stakeholders’ increasing focus on sustainability and demand for transparency. We have long recognized that being a good corporate citizen is an important part of MetLife’s overall value proposition. Our history is full of examples.
We were the first insurance company to provide free home nursing visits … the first to establish a group insurance business. And we were a major investor in middle class housing for veterans returning home from World War II. We modified our business and claims practices following the 9/11 attacks to make it easier for our customers and supported the economic recovery and revitalization of local communities in Japan following the 2011 tsunami and nuclear accident. And we helped our own colleagues, customers and other people in Mexico rebuild their lives following a pair of devastating earthquakes in 2017.
We are proud of our past, but even more excited about our future. 2019 was a specifically monumental year for MetLife. We officially defined our purpose: “Always with you, building a more confident future.” This will drive our priorities for moving forward and bring sustainability to life for our employees, customers, communities, and shareholders.
The report is being released against a backdrop of a global pandemic. How does COVID-19 relate to sustainability at MetLife?
COVID-19 does not change our mission to provide positive impact for our employees, customers, shareholders, and communities — rather, it provides a clear example of how we live up to our purpose every day. We want to help those that need us the most, and to do so, we’re taking action to protect our stakeholders and help them be resilient in this challenging time.
For our customers, we’ve developed and launched new digital applications and tools to ensure their claims can be paid safely and on time, giving them some financial security in this uncertain time. We’ve also given small businesses access to our PlanSmart Financial Wellness planners and resources to help them financially through the crisis. Through MetLife Foundation, we have committed $25 million in grants, including $1 million to U.S. food banks, and have donated critical medical supplies to communities in the greatest need of relief. For medical personnel and others on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, we are offering space in our investment properties and offices.
For MetLife, Sustainability is about supporting our people and helping them enjoy rich, rewarding careers… It’s about always striving to meet our customers’ ever-evolving needs and expectations… It’s about investing responsibly for the long term and delivering value to all our stakeholders… and it’s about being a responsible steward of the environment, so that we can continue fulfilling our purpose for decades to come.