Tom de Swaan, Chairman of the Board at Zurich Insurance Group Discusses the Meaning of Inclusive Capitalism

06/10/2016 11:17 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Tom de Swaan
Chairman of the Board, Zurich Insurance Group

Inclusive capitalism is about aligning profit with social value. It's about helping people out of poverty and through the challenges they experience. With society facing an increasingly complex set of social, political, economic and environmental risks, the need for inclusive capitalism has never been greater.

The insurance industry is well placed to support inclusive capitalism. By controlling and transferring risk, we help individuals, communities, businesses and the public sector to succeed. We do this both unilaterally and in partnership, with others, such as the public sector on natural catastrophes. Zurich's growth initiatives in Latin America and Asia Pacific will help to lock-in emerging economic development in these regions. More broadly, our commitment to multinational customers supports globalization, a process that has helped lift millions out of poverty.

But the fact that our industry has the inherent potential to support and extend inclusive capitalism does not mean that we should take our contribution for granted. Rather, this confers on us a great responsibility to do more and to increase our leadership in this space.

That's why Zurich has established the Zurich Commitment, a pledge to deliver for our four key stakeholder groups: shareholders, customers, communities and employees. This approach combines our commercial and social aims. For example, our large-scale investment in green bonds will benefit both our communities and shareholders. Equally, our focus on diversity and inclusion benefits employees and helps us to better understand customers. We are committed to bringing insights and thought leadership to communities on the issues that affect them most, such as flooding. Likewise, our microinsurance work will provide protection for, and increase the resilience of, the poorest elements of global society.

As the global financial recovery continues, inclusive capitalism will be key to regaining the public trust that businesses need to prosper. It is the role and the responsibility of Zurich, alongside the wider insurance industry, to play a leading part in these efforts.