At Protective, our values-based culture is all about doing the right thing. That's why, since our founding, we have been diligent in building and advancing a sustainable company. We know that running a sustainable business helps us further deliver on our promises to our customers, provide opportunities for continued growth, and live out our purpose as protectors.
Protective thinks of sustainability in relation to our continued commitment to our business, our people and our communities. We make long-term promises to our customers through life insurance, annuity and asset protection solutions, and creating a sustainable company ensures we can provide protection for years to come.
Building a sustainable business requires innovation, searching for opportunities and evolving to better reach and protect more people, and the 2021 Sustainability Report reflects this dedication. Protective’s unique and holistic view of sustainability incorporates initiatives which support our longevity, enabling us to deliver on our promises now and for years to come.
Protective’s sustainability strategy
Building a sustainable business includes, but goes beyond, recycling and reducing our carbon footprint. It’s protecting people. It’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts. It’s making an impact in the community.
To live out our sustainability strategy, Protective has integrated sustainable practices throughout our organization. Protective is committed to being a leading corporate citizen, and our sustainability efforts are shaped by the following:
- We are a values-based company — doing the right thing, building trust, serving people and aspiring for better are part of our corporate DNA.
- We offer products and services that enhance our customers’ lives.
- We embrace diversity, equity and inclusion, and we invest in our employees’ professional development and wellbeing.
- We deal fairly and ethically with our customers, partners and vendors.
- We invest in the communities where we live and work.
- We care about our environmental impact.
- We deliver long-term value to our stakeholders.
In July 2021, Protective established its Sustainability Task Force. This group is responsible for driving the company’s sustainability strategy, while also developing short- and long-term sustainability roadmaps for Protective. Protective’s Sustainability Task Force intentionally includes representatives from key departments throughout our organization with a focus on integrating sustainability efforts into our business.
In 2021, we published our inaugural Sustainability Report, detailing the actions, progress and achievements resulting from our sustainability work in 2020. Today, we are excited to share how we have continued that momentum through our 2021 Sustainability Report, which brings to life Protective's sustainability strategy, aligned around three primary pillars where we have the greatest opportunity for continued growth and impact: business, people and community.
Protective remains committed to protecting the world we live in. Our values guide us to inspire positive social impact, and we act every day to advance a sustainable business — because that’s what protectors do.
In 2021, we paid more than $4.9 billion in claims and provided $1 trillion of insurance protection, helping create protection and financial security for 12.8 million people. Protective completed a $375 million transaction including four minority-owned investment banking firms for our Funding Agreement-Backed Notes (FABN) program, powered our headquarters building with 100% renewable energy, and established a 2022 goal of $25 million in direct sustainable investments.
We also completed our first materiality matrix assessment to identify 10 of our most material sustainability issues for focus and prioritization moving forward. These issues include waste reduction, sustainable investments, employee culture, data privacy, DE&I and more. (Download the 2021 Sustainability Report to view the full list.)
When we take care of our people first, they can better care for our customers and our distribution partners. It’s how we ensure we’re protecting our customers to the best of our capabilities for the long term.
We are proud to report that as of August 2021, 91% of Protective employees feel proud to tell people where they work and 84% say they are inspired by what the company stands for, as reported in an internal pulse employee survey.
When evaluating our return to office as we faced the lasting impacts of the pandemic, we set out to be an example of an effective distributed workforce by enabling in-office, hybrid and virtual work opportunities. In 2021, we provided solutions to help managers navigate and lead in a new distributed work environment and hosted virtual events for employees to create connections with their fellow protectors and learn new skills. We listened to employee feedback and implemented a more flexible approach to workplace attire with our “Dress for Your Day” dress code and announced an additional cultural floating holiday.
In 2020, we increased the minimum wage at Protective, and as promised, we continued to monitor to ensure we remain a desirable place to work for hourly team members. In response, 2021 saw another minimum wage increase to $18 per hour.
Protective continues to actively recruit and retain a talented workforce. Our employees serve as protectors and deliver our promises, and we will continue to prioritize supporting them.
The Protective Life Foundation represents Protective’s unwavering investment in supporting outstanding organizations that address a wide spectrum of issues that improve the overall quality of life of our citizens, neighborhoods and environment. Being protectors is who we are, and the Foundation and Protective proudly pour support into our communities.
In 2021, Protective supported 198 nonprofits through the Foundation and more than 1,500 employees engaged in community service activities and initiatives. (Download the 2021 Sustainability Report to learn more about the nonprofits we served.)
With our three core sites in Birmingham, St. Louis and the greater Cincinnati region, we strive to make a difference in the areas where we work, live and play. In Cincinnati, we helped St. Vincent de Paul with its annual holiday drives, Food From the Heart and more. The Food From the Heart initiative has provided over one million meals since its inception 31 years ago. With this program, a tax-deductible donation of $2.09 typically provides one meal, and Protective pledged to match all donations, up to $25,000.
As in years past, we continued to support Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis, whose mission is to provide comfort, care and a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill children. We’re pleased to continue to support this critical neighborhood resource through volunteer hours and financial support.
On a national scale, we continued to contribute to organizations like the United Way and donate to various disaster recovery efforts.
One of our primary focuses in Birmingham was the Protecting Good initiative, which was launched by Protective and has evolved to include a number of key partners including the City of Birmingham, the State Department of Insurance, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and others. Together, we work to identify ways to give back to Northside Birmingham residents who live near Protective Stadium which is now adjacent to their community.
One of our proudest accomplishments under the Protecting Good umbrella is a project to strengthen, repair and protect the homes in these neighborhoods. In response, we established a collaborative project between Protective, the Alabama Department of Insurance’s Strengthen Alabama Homes Program, the City of Birmingham’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and Habitat for Humanity. Through this collaboration, FORTIFIED™ roofs were installed and other critical home repairs were completed on three homes during an initial pilot late in 2021.
In 2022, we plan to target 100 homes through this program. With our continued focus on Protecting Good, we know this is just the beginning.
Looking ahead to a sustainable future
Protective has embraced change and thrived throughout our 115-year history. That's why, since our founding, we have been diligent in building and advancing a sustainable company. We strive to integrate sustainable practices into our organization, because we know that a sustainable business means delivering on our promises to our customers, providing opportunities for continued growth, and living out our purpose as protectors.
Scott Adams is Executive Vice President Corporate Responsibility, Strategy and Innovation at Protective.