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Sustainability at Swiss Life

In the pursuit of its core business, financial provision and consulting, Swiss Life contributes directly to the sustainability of society and the economy. In addition, the company aims to act responsibly as an employer and in relation to the environment.

Swiss Life has set out its corporate sustainability principles in a Group-wide sustainability concept, which is subdivided into four areas: sustainability in daily business, as an employer, in society and with regard to the environment. The reporting in this Sustainability Report is based on this structure.

Our understanding of sustainability

Organisational implementation

In the reporting period, Swiss Life continued to develop its organisational structure and governance in the area of sustainability. The extended Corporate Executive Board is the highest steering committee for sustainability. It is chaired by the Group CEO. In the period under review, a new organisational structure was developed at Group level to coordinate, manage and implement the measures. It took effect on 1 January 2020 and is led by the Group Head of Sustainability. Alongside operational implementation, the new organisation is responsible for regular interaction between all specialists, ensures controlling and reporting functions, and prepares the basis for decisions by the extended Corporate Executive Board in its role as the steering committee.

The sustainability organisation is aligned to Swiss Life’s multi-divisional organisation and comprises sustainability delegates from all divisions and specialist delegates. Ten topics have been defined for specialist management.

The new organisation ensures operational implementation of the measures adopted at Group level directly in the relevant divisions and cross-divisional exchange on the defined focus topics.

Materiality Matrix

Swiss Life’s materiality matrix shows which topics are relevant for Swiss Life and its stakeholders. All of the topics highlighted form the basis for annual sustainability reporting.

Swiss Life has reported on the basis of the Global Reporting Initiative’s standards since 2016. In 2015 it produced the first version of its materiality matrix in a multi-step materiality process involving internal and external stakeholders. The matrix has been continuously refined since then. In 2019, Swiss Life performed an extensive re-evaluation of the material topics.

By revising its materiality matrix, Swiss Life aims to respond to the changing expectations of the various stakeholder groups, developments in its business environment and the development of the standards.

Swiss Life consulted the following internal and external stakeholder groups in this re-evaluation:

  • Internal specialists from the areas of Sustainability, Asset Management, Communications, Human Resources, Investor Relations, Finance and Risk Management
  • Extended Corporate Executive Board
  • Representatives of the Board of Directors
  • Representatives of financial institutions and rating agencies
  • Representatives of sustainability organisations and a university

Procedure for re-evaluating the materiality matrix (GRI 102-49)

As a first step, specialists from Sustainability, Asset Management, Communications, Group Human Resources, Investor Relations and Group Finance & Risk drew up a longlist of potential topics. Over a dozen specialists from the entire Swiss Life Group were involved in this step.

Stakeholder relevance was determined using an online survey and a workshop with internal specialists from Sustainability, Communications, Group Human Resources, Investor Relations, Asset Management and Group Finance & Risk. Involving various specialist disciplines and representatives of the entire Group ensured that the survey covered the broadest possible spectrum of stakeholder groups.

Relevance for Swiss Life was determined by conducting interviews with the entire extended Corporate Executive Board and two members of the Board of Directors.

Materiality matrix of the Swiss Life Group


  • Environmental and climate protection
  • Risk management
  • Profitability and growth
  • Products, services and advice
  • People centricity
  • Responsible investing
  • Responsible real estate management
  • Data protection and information security
  • Digitalisation
  • Corporate governance
  • Combating corruption and fair competition
  • Corporate citizenship
  • Human rights
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Diversity, equal opportunity and non-discrimination
  • Employee development and retention
  • Economic responsibility
  • Self-determination in times of demographic change

Survey of external sustainability experts

The dimension “Impact on sustainable development” was taken into account through structured interviews with five external sustainability experts and analysts. They included representatives of financial institutions, rating agencies, sustainability organisations and a Swiss university.

To enhance readability, the dimension “Impact on sustainable development” has not been integrated into the existing materiality matrix. The four topics that external stakeholders indicate as having the greatest impact on sustainable development are:

  • Responsible investing
  • Responsible real estate management
  • Risk management
  • Data protection and information security

Evaluation method and results

Everyone included in the survey rated and prioritised the relevance or impact of potentially significant issues using a four-point scale. This distinguished between “high relevance”, “significant relevance”, “moderate relevance”, and “low relevance”.

The materiality analysis showed that the topics “innovation” and “health, safety and well-being in the workplace”, which were included in the questionnaire, were considered by the majority of those surveyed, whether internal or external, to be less relevant. Consequently, they are not included in the new materiality matrix.

Further, compared with the previous matrix, some topics have been renamed and some new topics included:

Changes to the topics compared with the previous matrix

UnchangedNew designationNew topic
Economic responsibilityRisk management (formerly: Risk management and compliance)Responsible real estate management
Environmental and climate protectionProfitability and growth (formerly: Sustainable profitability)Data protection and information security
Human rightsProducts, services and advice (formerly: Products and services)Digitalisation
Sustainable procurementPeople centricity (formerly: Customer centricity)Corporate governance
Responsible investing (formerly: Investment strategy)Combating corruption and fair competition
Diversity, equal opportunities and non-discrimination (formerly: Equal treatment and non-discrimination and Diversity and equal opportunities)Corporate citizenship
Employee development and retention (formerly: Employee commitment and development)
Self-determined living in times of demographic change (formerly: Demographic change)

The Corporate Executive Board validated and adopted the revised materiality matrix in November 2019 (GRI 102-46).