Our “Coffee break with” series gives the floor to influential and inspiring personalities from various sectors who enlighten us with their expertise about challenges, experiences and business trends or opportunities. Today, Nathalie Erdmanis (AG Insurance) is sharing her views on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which is essential for companies in today’s environment.
With more than 25 years of experience in strategic marketing and communications, Nathalie Erdmanis is a reference in her field. After having worked for brands such as Danone, AXA, SPA, McDonald's, Orange or Brussels Airlines, she is now working for AG – which recently won the “Best Brand Award 2021” for the third year in a row and reached the top 10 "most valuable Belgian brands”. She has been Director of Strategic marketing, Branding & Data Insights Analytics for more than four years, and this year she is wearing a brand-new hat at AG, in addition to her other specialties: Director of Sustainability.
In 2020, with the sanitary crisis and successive lockdowns, many companies had to redefine their priorities and messages. How have you adapted to this change at AG Insurance?
We needed to be agile and adapt quickly. We realized that in the context of a global pandemic, we could no longer communicate our "Live your life to the fullest, thanks to AG" positioning with the same lightness. We temporarily stopped communicating about our products and services and set up a platform that helps fight loneliness. This action was part of a communication campaign we launched in June 2020. We restarted our brand communications in December 2020 with a positioning adapted to the new reality: a balance between serenity and the desire for freedom: "Listen to your inner voice and follow your path!”
Internally, we have launched a great action "#Sharetheflag #Shareasmile": 200 flags have been travelling around Belgium since the beginning of April, the aim being to meet and spend a moment (sportive for example), with a colleague from one region, to share a smile, sign and pass on the flag. This action is very popular and is widely shared on social networks. Our hope is that these 200 flags can quickly be gathered in our building in Brussels. After a year of lockdown in remote work, this would be a strong symbol of a real professional and human unity.
The function you currently hold, Director of Sustainability, has probably become one of the most important functions in today’s companies. What are your future challenges, given that AG already has a very strong CSR positioning?
As an insurer, CSR is part of our DNA, our “raison d’être”, and this is reflected in our brand signature: "Support your life".
“Putting CSR at the level of management responsibility demonstrates the will and ambition to make it a transversal element, inherent to all departments, over time. It is a commitment of the entire company.”
The challenge will be for each of us, at our own level, to make this commitment our own, in our own way of working, by considering every aspect of the E(nvironment), S(ocial), G(overnance). Each of us, at whatever level, can make a difference, by reducing our CO2 impact, our waste, our travel, by better respecting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but also by helping to adapt our products and services to the needs of a changing society. I also believe very strongly in the motto "Act and then talk": we will continue to act and then we will communicate continuously on the subject to our stakeholders, in order to explain to them what we mean by "sustainability at AG", why and how we are committed to it.
AG is involved in a multitude of initiatives for society such as support for Paralympic Team Belgium, or participation in financing the development of a COVID-19 vaccine... How are these social and societal commitments reflected internally in the company's values? How to ensure that these are well integrated and carried by employees?
AG's 4 values are "Care, Dare, Share, Deliver". They are known and fully put into practice on a daily basis. They are integrated into the onboarding, training and annual objectives of our employees, and into the business plans of the departments. We attach a particular importance to the fact that our employees fully represent these values in their daily contacts with customers, partners, the outside world, but also with each other.
How do you transmit these values to your customers? How do you convince them of your approach and your difference?
Our values live through the actions we take in our daily work performance, whether towards our clients, our colleagues or our partners. Our business is in essence "sustainable", as we manage, through a responsible investment policy, the "means" of the future that will allow people to maintain their standard of living (via the second pension pillar, for example). Our expertise, professionalism and ethics in any actions we take reflect our values. The way we communicate and interact with our stakeholders is also important: authentically, transparently and empathically. And above all, we continue to communicate internally and externally on a regular basis on the subject.