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Allianz sets up CSR group

January 2002

One of the world’s biggest financial services companies has formed a sustainability strategy group.

The German banking and insurance firm Allianz has formed the group with representatives from its offices in different countries to extend its work on corporate responsibility beyond the environmental matters on which it has so far concentrated.

Astrid Zwick, head of strategy in Allianz’s sustainable development office, said the company, which operates in more than 75 countries and has more than 120,000 employees, hoped sustainability would provide a fresh corporate focus for all its divisions.

‘We don’t have a very strong identity at the moment because we are made up of a lot of different companies from mergers,’ she said. ‘We hope sustainability will be a glue between the various group members.’

Although Allianz has published four environmental reports, it has done little work so far on its social performance and until October last year had been excluded from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Inclusion in the index was one of Allianz’s short-term targets on environmental and social issues, but it now wants to take a longer-term approach and not focus solely on environmental matters.

‘We see competitors in the field who are proactive in this area and we are far behind,’ admitted Zwick.

‘We need to change our corporate culture, but we are aiming for a voluntary and decentralized approach that takes account of different cultures around the world. We want to do that with small, credible steps’.

An early step would be to draw up group-wide ‘principles for sustainability’, but Allianz hopes to produce social performance indicators at a later date, she said.

‘Our first aim was to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, but in the longer term we want to be judged as one of the leading companies’.

The forthcoming German pension regulation, which will require fund managers to state their position on socially responsible investment, has encouraged the company to take greater account of CSR issues, she added.

Allianz, which has almost 700 subsidiaries worldwide, has a market capitalization of £43.5billion ($63bn).




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