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CEO Sustainability Series | Sylvie Gleises, Country Manager, Singapore AXA XL

As part of the Sustainable Business initiative, the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore presents a leadership interview series where we invite CEOs and key executives to discuss crucial management qualities that drive successful sustainable transformation

Question 1: What does sustainability mean to your organisation? What has your company’s sustainability journey been like on far, on a Group Level?

At AXA XL, our approach to sustainability is the same as our approach to business: constantly seeking to provide innovative solutions to the world’s most complex problems. Our strategy contributes to AXA Group’s purpose to “Act for human progress by protecting what matters”.

In line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, AXA’s sustainability strategy comprises four pillars: Climate change, access to water, financial resilience, and Hearts in Action.

AXA was ranked the second most responsible insurer in 2020 on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, with a score of 88/100, an increase of 5 points compared with 2019.

Q2: How do you see expectations and attitudes towards sustainability changing among your employees, customers and partners? And what are the impact on your organisation?

Our recent internal survey revealed that 72% of our employees are interested in learning more about climate change. Engaging and upskilling our employees on the climate change journey is part of AXA’s strategic priorities and the AXA for Progress Index. Therefore, AXA launched the AXA Climate Academy: a program that aims at supporting AXA employees in our collective journey to mitigate Climate change. In addition, we have always put a strong
emphasis on our commitment to the communities in which we live and work through many volunteering and giving initiatives, collectively known as “AXA Hearts in Action”. In similar vein, we’re committed to creating a global workplace that works for everyone, with a culture built on Inclusion & Diversity (I&D).

I believe the insurance industry has a key role to play in increasing the resilience of communities to climate related hazards. Committed to climate leadership, AXA chairs the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, and AXA XL is very active in the Insurance Development Forum (IDF). On the client front, we’re supporting companies such as those in the Energy, Marine,
Aviation sectors which are currently going through the transition. Our AXA Climate team has also recently established a Climate Advisory Team, helping companies to assess potential impact of climate exposures over the next five to ten years or more.

Not just limited to insurance, AXA has developed a comprehensive policy that sets out our position on Responsible Investment into our investment processes and our ownership practices. Not forgetting, we’re always enthusiastic to share our expertise and knowledge to assist our clients. Recently, we organised a Water Sustainability workshop in Singapore for
clients aimed at discussing the most pertinent issues surrounding water scarcity and how private corporations can strengthen their water resiliency in the face of climate change.

Q3: What challenges do you think insurers will face in this sustainability journey?

Integrating sustainability in underwriting, products and services is a relatively new concept for the insurance industry. Naturally, there are questions that we need to get our head around.
Net Zero Insurers Alliance (NZIA) will need to come up with collective answers and AXA is committed to taking a lead role in this. Additionally, insurers need to help our customers embark on their sustainability journey in the most effective way possible.

Photos copyright by Shutterstock

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