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2016 Corporate Responsibility Report

Disclosure and accountability

We have voluntarily reported on our performance as a responsible company since 1998. Over the years, the range of topics covered in these yearly reports has gradually widened. While early editions had a strong focus on environmental concerns, later editions gradually extended their focus to social and governance issues. Since 2007, we have published a comprehensive Corporate Responsibility Report, guided by best practice in corporate responsibility reporting.

Content definition

The structure of the present report reflects the “implementation areas” in which we address our Corporate Responsibility Topics: each of these areas is covered by an individual chapter – with one exception: Our role as an active citizen in society is described in a separate report published by the Swiss Re Foundation. Thus, the report includes the following six main chapters:

The content presented in these chapters primarily reflects our Corporate Responsibility Topics, as shown in the overview table.

Scope and publishing rhythm

Our Corporate Responsibility Report covers the whole Swiss Re Group as it was organised by 31 December 2016, ie the publicly listed holding company Swiss Re Ltd, its three Business Units Reinsurance, Corporate Solutions and Life Capital, and all directly or indirectly held subsidiaries. Our new Life Capital Business Unit was established on 1 January 2016, comprising the existing Admin Re® business. There were no other changes to the Group’s organisational structure during the year.

As in past years, the scope of the report is limited to Swiss Re’s own operations. Although we provide information on our sourcing and procurement policies, we do not report on the performance of our suppliers because the re/insurance business does not involve an extensive supply chain. However, since 2013, we have been disclosing some of the emissions caused along our supply chain (Scope 3 emissions).

The present report follows the 2015 edition and covers the calendar year of 2016 ending 31 December 2016. We plan to maintain our annual publishing cycle and to present our next Corporate Responsibility Report in the first quarter of 2018, covering the year of 2017.

To get a complete overview of our actions as a responsible company, this report should be read in conjunction with Swiss Re’s Annual Report and the report published by the Swiss Re Foundation.

Independent assurance

All the main chapters of the 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report have received independent assurance from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Their assurance report is included Independent assurance report.

Reporting frameworks

The present report incorporates our 2016 Communication on Progress for the UN Global Compact. References to the Compact’s ten principles are incorporated into the GRI Content Index. For the third consecutive year, we also report against the Principles for Sustainable Insurance, PSI. You can find our Public Disclosure of Progress in PSI – Our Public Disclosure of Progress.

In the 2016 reporting cycle, we have also started to integrate the disclosure recommendations recently developed by the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (www.fsb-tcfd.org). In view of their clear focus on financially relevant information, we are using the dedicated “Corporate responsibility” chapter of our 2016 Financial Report for this purpose.

Note on our implementation of the GRI G4 Guidelines

In this edition of our Corporate Responsibility Report, we include Standard Disclosures of the G4 Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), as far as is practical for a business-to-business company in financial services. The way we identify material issues has important implications for how we do this:

  • Our understanding of materiality is based on the risk expertise embedded in our business, our broad, interactive stakeholder dialogue and the view of various standard setters. We have selected the GRI’s “material aspects” accordingly and refer to the associated indicators as far as we see fit for a re/insurer and can provide the data.
  • Although we engage actively in dialogue with our stakeholders, we do not currently have a formalised process for them to comment on our selection of the GRI’s “material aspects” and hence neither on the content of our Corporate Responsibility Report.
  • We do, however, carefully analyse what kind of information key sustainability raters request of us and include this in our reporting if we perceive a widespread demand (see below).

Note on Indicators G4-21 and G4-22 on internal and external “aspect boundaries”: Of the "material aspects" to which we refer in the present report, we regard most as material "inside the organization". Those aspects that are also or primarily "material outside the organization" relate to our supply chain (supplier assessments regarding environment, labour practices, human rights and impacts on society), the human rights performance of our investees and re/insurance clients (investment, freedom of association and collective bargaining, child labour, forced or compulsory labour, and assessment) and the environmental and social performance of our investees (active ownership).

Furthermore, we include the two aspects "water" and "effluents and waste" of the environmental category in our reporting, even though they are not highly material for a non-industrial company. However, many rating organisations expect information and data on them from companies in the financial services sector, too.

As a rule, all the material aspects we cover in the report are “material for all entities within the organization”, that is, for the Swiss Re holding company and all three of its Business Units. This statement only needs to be qualified for two indicators of the Financial Services Sector Supplement: FS7 and FS8 on products with a specific social or environmental benefit are not relevant for our Life Capital Business Unit.