Sustainability in our supply chain

IT maintenance terminal (photo)

IT and data services are one of our main sourcing categories. For the procurement of all our goods and services from external vendors we use a Group Sourcing Standard, which incorporates requirements on human rights, labour conditions, environmental impacts and anti-corruption. In 2020, we completed an ESG assessment for 95% of our Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors.

To run our operations, we continuously procure a wide range of goods and services. In line with our overarching Group Sourcing Standard, we select suppliers that offer the best value for money, meet high quality standards and adhere to Swiss Re’s Code of Conduct.

Furthermore, as a signatory to the UN Global Compact, we are committed to honouring all its ten principles. Amongst other things, these prohibit any sort of discrimination or the use of child or forced labour, and require that the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining be upheld. These principles of the UN Global Compact are included in our Code of Conduct by reference and specifically cover our relationships with external service providers under the headings of human rights, labour conditions, environmental impacts and anti-corruption.

The procurement of all goods and services from external vendors is conducted in accordance with our Group Sourcing Standard, which also refers to these headings from the UN Global Compact. When selecting new products and suppliers, we examine whether they comply with these requirements as part of the overall evaluation process. We take a fresh look at existing strategic suppliers in our periodic contract reviews and visit individual suppliers to inspect them on-site. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have partnered with our vendors to collaborate virtually. Internally, we hold regular awareness training sessions with our sourcing staff.

For some sourcing categories, we have also developed Minimum Standards that further specify our requirements. Besides power (see “Our Greenhouse Neutral Programme”), they cover paper, cleaning services and agents, refrigerant agents and building materials.

In the years 2016 and 2019, respectively, we began partnerships with EcoVadis and IntegrityNext, two collaborative platforms for sustainable supply chain management that cover a wide range of screening criteria across the topics of environmental impacts, human rights, labour practices, ethics and sustainable procurement. These collaborations allow us to assess the sustainability performance of our suppliers more systematically with the help of key performance indicators and to engage them in improvements. They also help us reduce and manage potential sustainability risks in our supply chain.

In 2020, we were fully engaged in an integrated, risk-based approach toward sustainable supply chain management. Our internal vendor system has been augmented to include ESG assessments as part of our due-diligence process. Our collaboration with IntegrityNext and EcoVadis has allowed us to scale up and accelerate our vendor ESG assessments, helping us to make substantial progress towards reaching our goal of having all Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors ESG-assessed. Together, these major vendors account for approximately 80% of our outsourced spending.

Share of our Tier 1 and 2 vendors ESG-assessed by the end of 2020


(35% by the end of 2019)

By the end of 2020, all Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors were approached to participate in our ESG assessments, resulting in a completion rate of 95%. This important achievement sets the stage for the next step and core piece of our supply chain sustainability journey, the Vendor Development Programme (VDP). Its aim is to monitor and improve minimum standards within our supply chain for ESG criteria (anti-bribery and anti-corruption, environmental protection, human rights and labour, health and safety, and supply chain responsibility) as well as additional criteria for diversity. This work will be carried out in a collaborative relationship with our vendors. In 2021, we plan to run a pilot for the VDP.