Corporate Social Responsibility

Spring Statement 2015

This is only our third CSR Spring Statement but we’ve already made massive strides advancing our status as a truly ethical, socially responsible and quality insurer.

The purpose of this document is to reflect on what we achieved in 2014 and to commit to a new agenda of stretching targets for 2015. However, this year our CSR agenda will be advanced by the actions of our new CSR Committee – a group comprising key ARAG colleagues from across our entire business. As such our Committee can now draw on broader business interests and knowledge; the status quo can be challenged even further.

“At ARAG, our role is to help our customers and insureds to have access to justice that may define the future quality of their lives. We regard our business as not only being socially and economically necessary but that we also fulfil a broader role within society in general. Our CSR policy reflects this belief and is our commitment to a socially responsible employer and business. We pride ourselves on setting challenging targets and measuring our performance in the CSR arena so that we gain the trust of our customers and insureds who can then be confident that they have chosen the right partner in ARAG.”
Tony Buss, Managing Director

Our Customers and the Insureds

We carried on in 2014 as we finished 2013; award winners.  Firstly, success came in the form of the ‘Insurance Provider of the Year’ at the Personal Injury Awards.  That was then followed by a double-victory at the Underwriting Service Awards where ARAG was awarded not only the ‘Legal Expenses Team of Year’ but also the prestigious ‘Underwriting Service Awards Team of the Year’ – the latter the top award of the evening.

These awards are further evidence of ARAG being an innovative quality insurer

We’re proud of our achievements during 2014 but we won’t stop; our Drive to succeed and desire to win the respect of our peers is part of who we are.   

Customer Feedback
Traditionally we’ve relied on our great customer retention rates to indicate a job well done; and that’s not changed. However, our CSR Committee has recently started developing further qualitative and quantitative tools for measuring and gauging of customer opinion and satisfaction.

Feedback from the insured
We can take many positives from the feedback we received during 2014.  Not least because of the 22.4% increase in the response rate when compared to 2013.  This is testament to the improvements we’ve made to the process of asking for feedback; we’re therefore engaging with the insured far more than ever before.  That said, we’ve already identified how we can improve on this yet further – we’ll tell you more in our 2016 Spring Statement!

The findings indicate that the insureds’ perception of the service they received from ARAG has improved since 2013.  Delving deeper, it seems that “speed of access to an advisor” and the quality of the Legal Advice Line are the key drivers here.

Our Suppliers
During 2014 we started a programme of asking our primary suppliers about their CSR commitments.  We wanted to know who works in an ethical manner, supports their local communities and cares about the environment.  The information won’t be used just yet, but in the future we plan to assist those businesses without a CSR agenda to adopt one, and work with those who do to advance the cause of theirs and ours.  Through working together, we hope to build a better tomorrow in which our business interests can still be realised.

Our Environment

We offset our reported 2013 carbon emissions by investing in the anti-deforestation of the Amazon and funding the planting of over a hundred trees in our South West home.  This approach will continue with our CSR Committee soon voting on which project(s) to support with our 2014 offsetting.  But of course we first want to target CO2 reductions.

So, how have we done:

Direct CO2 emissions

Driving our fleet in an environmental direction
Despite having a larger fleet in 2014 which drive more miles than ever before (175,995 miles versus 159,660 in 2013), our actual CO2 emissions from car related travel fell from 39.70 tonnes in 2013 to just 38.50 tonnes in 2014.  This incongruous finding is the direct result of various vehicles being replaced under our new emissions cap of 130g/km – with several drivers opting for cars emitting less than 120g/km!  

2015 CO2 car emissions

Environmental data and Goals
In 2012 we set what we believed to be the ambitious target of reducing our CO2 emissions per £m Earned Income by 2% year-on-year.  We in fact achieved a 5.85% reduction from 2012 to 2013, and a further reduction of 6.61% from 2013 to 2014!
This achievement is largely attributable to the fall in CO2 emissions resulting from business travel (excluding commuting) and a rise in Earned Income.  However, small and largely unsung initiatives contributed to the over reduction, for example:

  • Papercut software with print-on-present solution: with the launch of our new printing solutions, Papercut means we now only print what is genuinely needed.  The reporting tools also enable us to analyse printing output and target areas for further improvement;
  • Common / centralised bins replacing individual desk bins: making throwing rubbish away that much more difficult has focussed minds and changed our behaviour to the materials we use (or don’t use).
  • Greater number of recycling points and options: we now have as many recycling points as we do bins – in fact, they’re deliberately located with the bins.  The concept of recycling has been promoted and it’s now easier than ever to recycle common waste in the ARAG office.

Our Workplace

Colleague satisfaction and engagement
Further expansion, an office move and different business structures hasn’t dented the enthusiasm and engagement of ARAG colleagues.  Far from it.  Our 2014 colleague survey noted that our colleagues are happier than ever with a Satisfaction Index score of 8.07 up on the previous year’s 7.93.

Satisfaction index

So, should talented professionals come and work at ARAG?  Are our customers right to place their business in our hands?  Looking at some of the key findings from the 2014 survey, the answers must surely be “yes”:

2014 staff survey

Workplace initiatives

Remuneration Package
For the eighth year running, we’ve again implemented pay increases across the board – typically well in excess of RPI inflation.  We also increased monetary allowances at the same level.  Moreover, this April we have also increased our employer pension contributions under our ARAGpension-match scheme. 

We’re confident that our remuneration package is one of the most competitive within the local community and the wider Legal Expenses Insurance industry.  We believe in rewarding our colleagues.

Medical Benefit
Our colleagues told us that they wanted a medical benefit that goes beyond our biennial health checks, which provides additional cover to the NHS and peace of mind from financial support.  As such, this January we introduced a Health Cash Plan for all staff regardless of grade and time served.

This is yet another example of our commitment in providing great benefits but also boosting the health and wellbeing of our colleagues.

Line management training
Our first cohort completed their Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) training in 2014.  We hope that this initiative not only empowers those who earned their qualification, but also those that they manage.

Responsibility Deal
We’ve continued to fulfil and report on our pledges made under the Government’s Responsibility Deal.  As noted earlier, we’ve added to our ARAGcare package with the launch of our Simplyhealth cash benefit plan for all colleagues.

During 2014, just over 8% of colleagues purchased a new bicycle under our Cycle2Health initiative; a significant increase on the previous year.  The uptake of our Gym Subsidy also increased with over 46% of colleagues taking advantage of access to cheaper fitness facilities; an increase of 4% on the previous year.  We hope to go even further in 2015.

In 2013 we achieved a very respectable Sickness Absence rate of just 2.02%, but we knew we could do better.  It’s therefore pleasing to see that our Sickness Absence rate in 2014 stood at just 1.47% compared to the latest figures from the ONS and CIPD*.

*ONS: UK average of 2.4% and a private sector average of 1.8% (ONS, Labour Force Survey; February 2014).  CIPD: Finance, Insurance and Real Estate mean average of 2.5% for the year 2014 (CIPD, Absence Management 2014).

Our community and social impact

Charity in 2014
Simply stated, we smashed our efforts of 2013.  ARAG colleagues ran, baked and shopped (donating unwanted items first) their way to an amazing total which the business also added to.  In total, our charitable giving equalled 0.2% of our pre-tax profits – this is not only very respectable but surpasses that of most of our peers.

Charitable donations

With regard to our Pay As You Earn initiative, we’re proud to say that the Charities Aid Foundation presented us with the Payroll Giving Silver Award for 2014.  It’s expected that we will receive this level of award again in 2015; we await the results.

Our 2014 nominated charity
Sadly, in January 2014 ARAG unexpectedly lost a much loved and respected colleague, Barry Tweddle, to the ravages of Pancreatic Cancer.  We’re therefore proud to have raised in 2014 just over £4,500 for Pancreatic Cancer UK.   This donation was made solely in the fond memory of Barry.  

Charity in 2015
Last year one of our respected business partners, Amber Insurance, asked if we would be interested in supporting Ronald McDonald House at Bristol.  This fantastic charity provides home from home accommodation for the families of critically ill children receiving care at the Bristol Royal Hospital for children.  We are therefore naturally very proud to be supporting this local and worthwhile charity as our nominated choice for 2015.

ARAG colleagues will once again take up the challenge with drive and enthusiasm.  The Bristol 10k, a bake sale and donated prize raffle are already in the pipeline.  ARAG will match much of the money our colleagues raise.

We invite all of our business partners and customers to support this wonderful charity either directly or through ARAG.  You can donate money, time or prizes to our raffle; every contribution no matter how small or large can make a difference to this charity.

Living Wage & Zero Hour Contracts
The profile of the Living Wage has been boosted once again in recent months, and the same political campaigning has once again posed questions about the morality and ethical issues surrounding zero hour contracts.

ARAG is once again firmly in support of the Living Wage.  Whilst we won’t be seeking accreditation this year, we continue to pay our staff* in excess of the Living Wage.   

Current living wage

ARAG clearly surpasses the Living Wage.  This is also true of our London based colleagues; adding our ‘South East Allowance’ to ARAG’s minimum salary means we pay a minimum of £10.91 an hour rather than the Living Wage’s £9.15.
Zero Hour Contracts
Until now we’ve not formalised our dislike of zero hour contracts.  Whilst we acknowledge that they may be of benefit to some people and a different type of organisation, we believe them incompatible with our family ethos and our vow to provide great customer service.  As such, we now pledge not to use zero hour contracts.

*direct employees of ARAG only.  During 2014/15 we intend to review all those suppliers who would fall within the scope of Living Wage accreditation to assess feasibility and appetite for accreditation.

Our Goals

Our goals for 2015 are quite simple, as the best ones quite often are.  They are:

Our Customers and the Insureds

  • Assess the CSR activities and commitment of our major suppliers and business partners;
  • Maintain a feedback score of 9 or more from the insureds.

Our Environment
We will continue with our two principal environmental goals, namely:

  • To reduce our CO2 emissions per £m Earned Income by 2% per year during 2014 and 2015 (6.1% total reduction against the 2012 result); and
  • Offset through whatever means 100% of our annual direct carbon emissions each and every year.

Our Workplace

  • Reduce our sickness absence rate to 2.0% or less;
  • Target a 15% or greater uptake in our ARAGpension-match scheme;
  • Maintain or improve the percentage of staff who takes advantage of our gym subsidy benefit.

Our Community and social impact

  • Maintain or improve on our direct charitable donations as a percentage of pre-tax profits year on year;
  • Maintain or improve on our Payroll Giving Silver Award;
  • Increase the uptake by staff of donating time and/or money to good causes.