Purpose is a concept increasingly used by companies to convey a sense of meaning to their work beyond short-term profit. But few companies today have a purpose that dates back 140 years like Prudential Financial. Believing that financial security should be within everyone’s reach, Prudential Financial links its purpose to its sustainability commitments, reinforcing the inherently long-term nature of its business: retirement savings and insurance.
Suzanne Klatt, Director of Environment and Sustainability at Prudential Financial, provided an inside look at how purpose fuels the company’s sustainability commitments and reporting at a recent <IR> US Community spotlight series, available here:
In its long-form sustainability report, Prudential Financial uses the IIRC framework and the six capitals as a guide in building its content. The capitals underpin the four pillars of its sustainability governance and reporting: customer focus, responsible impact, talent focus and financial strength. Suzanne shared that these pillars – and the capitals – serve as a means of connecting the content within the sustainability report as well as the Chairman and CEO’s letters in the company’s annual report and proxy statement. Rather than reporting on all of the company’s sustainability performance, the team chooses the stories that best support the pillars, trying every year to trim the report for greater readability.
That means developing a greater understanding of what audiences want to know and organizing the report to make it easily available to them. Suzanne explained that Prudential has had to increase its disclosure comfort level gradually but that starting small can lead over time to robust reporting processes and structures. In its 2016 report for instance, the company included “Prudential By the Numbers,” an at-a-glance performance scorecard highlighting data like employee diversity, product performance and women in management positions.
Performance is only a part of the Prudential Financial sustainability reporting story, though. Employees are a key audience for the report, and the pillars help provide a narrative around the company’s purpose – to power the ambitions of people, organizations and communities – they can relate to and connect with in their jobs. The report also serves to unite employees across the firm’s many, and quite distinct, business units by revealing how they each contribute to the same purpose and the impact it has on customers and communities.
The <IR> U.S. Community will turn from reporters to audiences with its next series on Wednesday, January 10 at 2 pm EST to hear the investors’ view on sustainability performance data and reporting.
Post authored by Rachel Riccardella of Kite Global Advisors, a thought leadership advisory firm helping clients shape the debate on the issues that matter most to them.