Mission-driven company: Publicity stunt or firm belief?
On May 22, 2019, the French Pacte law is promulgated. The purpose of this law is to rethink the place and role that companies should play in social and environmental progress. It provides a concrete framework for some companies that have set one or more social or environmental objectives.
4 November 2020
At a time when consumers are demanding more commitment from brands. We see more and more companies integrating the status of “mission-driven company”: “Mission Washing” or deep commitment?
A leader’s strong belief
In recent years, Wakam has continued to transform.
In 2015, we changed our model to refocus on creating customized white-label products.
In 2018, we went digital, offering all our products in the form of APIs and automated management of contracts and claims via our private blockchain.
Since then, we have been developing Usage-based and parametric insurance products to meet new market expectations for personalization and transparency.
But the transformation of our model and our digitalization was only the tip of the iceberg. For our CEO, Olivier Jaillon, the real fundamental issue was to give meaning to his course of action. And ensure that his company and employees have a tangible and lasting impact on society.
It is on the basis of his strong and firm beliefs that our microinsurance offer for vulnerable groups began to emerge in early 2019.
Indeed, designing an inclusive offer is a particularly engaging and unifying undertaking for the Wakamees, not to mention tangible in terms of its impact on society.
For many weeks, we sat all the stakeholders around the table (vulnerable groups, associations, employees, etc.) to co-design an inclusive insurance offer for the most vulnerable people and employees:
- Writing the legal documents in plain language,
- Re-designing the business model with value sharing in favor of the insured (and no margin for the insurer).
Our offer is now deployed within the Crésus network of associations, which prevents financial, economic, and social exclusion. Thanks to the Epic Foundation, we are also approaching companies to deploy it for their employees’ benefit. Furthermore, Wakam is the first company to subscribe to this offer so that its eligible employees can benefit from it.
But this very real undertaking to support vulnerable groups had to be part of a broader and more tangible consideration of our corporate mission and the values defended by our employees, our partners, and our shareholders. We were not yet aware of it, but the foundations of our undertaking to become a mission-driven company had been laid.
The consideration and the beginning
The PACTE law, which is the French government’s action plan for business growth and transformation enacted in May 2019, quickly emerged as a promising ‘tool’ for companies wishing to be part of a legitimate societal movement for insurers whose primary vocation remains to protect the insured in the broadest sense.
We felt it was important to put this mission, which is often forgotten, back at the heart of our company and our purpose; we started our thought process with the idea that becoming a mission-driven company could, therefore, be a structured and objective response to our quest for meaning and impact.
The first step in our undertaking was to collectively define a purpose that reflects our commitments and will serve as our guide for years to come.
“Prophil” agency supported us in this process to embed the best practices around this structure and culminate in our purpose in September 2019. At this time, we have already thought of lines of consideration that could lead to future commitments. Strong actions that address clients’ basic needs and that bear our principles of innovation as facilitators of taking action.
At the same time, having such an approach required having a person who could lead it, bearing it within the company and, more broadly, vis-à-vis our various partners.
To successfully carry out this mission, Olivier Jaillon appointed Denis Thaeder as Chief Mission Officer (formerly Chief Revenue Officer in charge of developing our partnerships) in September 2019.
Formalizing and sharing
Starting in the 3rd quarter of 2019, we entered an active phase of elaborating a tangible roadmap, leading to reaching mission-driven company status in early 2021.
We divided this roadmap into three main action areas the:
- legal and formal trajectory that will allow us to declare ourselves a ‘mission-driven company’,
- definition of our objectives and their rendering in the form of commitments
- rollout of our inclusive insurance program for vulnerable groups
We initiated the elaboration of the commitments at the beginning of the first half of 2020, aiming to make them the spearhead of our undertaking. Indeed, commitments that engage partners and employees in the long term and are supported by our shareholders can significantly impact the company, its ecosystem, and society in general.
We have divided our commitments into two sections. The first aims to transform our relationship with our partners and the final policyholders. The second is to develop virtuous behaviors both in terms of our governance and our investments. But we also want to get involved in ‘inclusive’ operations. Our commitments, their sincerity, and their impact are the key to our undertaking to become a mission-driven company.
To etch one of the milestones of the mission-driven company trajectory early on, our Board of Directors confirmed the modification and inclusion in our statutes of our purpose “to make insurance transparent and impactful,” illustrating the content of our commitments, in the first half of 2020.
We also began considering who will be on the Mission Committee that will support us throughout our adventure, and we are proud to welcome three people already who work every day to improve our society:
- Geneviève Ferone Creuzet, co-founder of Prophil,
- Jean-Louis Kiehl, President of Crésus,
- Paola Fabiani, founder of Wisecom.
The Mission Committee is of paramount importance in this undertaking. Its mission is to ensure the smooth running of the undertaking in operational terms and the adequacy of the allocated resources. It also ensures its inclusion in our 2021-2023 strategic plan: “Yes Wakam.”
Mission-driven company from 2021
These commitments have a ‘strong societal responsibility’ connotation with a forward-looking vision. Like the deployment of parametric products (compensation automation using technology, e.g., our ‘flight delay’ product). They also concern more ‘conventional’ topics that are nevertheless fundamental. Such as transparency and simplicity in the final policyholder contractual documentation or even better distribution cost control to ensure a better distribution for policyholders.
Each commitment has an associated roadmap (covering three years). An employee with the associated teams is in charge of its deployment as well as monitoring and implementing measurable KPIs. This highlights the complexity of implementing some of the projects and the need to consider the gradual implementation.
We have always kept in mind that these commitments will impact our partners, who will necessarily be stakeholders in these actions alongside us. Without them, we could not carry out certain actions. We are elaborating a strategic plan taking us through to the end of 2023 (“Yes Wakam”).
It will take into account each of our commitments, including:
- including team involvement
- the associated investments
- the go-to-market for inclusive insurance
- and the tools associated with project management.
No ‘mission washing’!
The objectives are very clear: These commitments must impact our ecosystem in a sustainable and tangible way. We will likely disturb or upset the established order. But that is part of our role as an insurer in societal and environmental progress. Attitudes must evolve to provide our end clients with ever-fairer insurance. The road ahead is long and fraught with pitfalls. But our combined strength will allow us to accomplish all these things. Firstly, we will come together eighteen months from now for an initial report proposed to the project governance (Mission Committee and then an independent organization). Then three years later to make a comprehensive assessment of our commitments.
If you want to know more about our commitments go check out our page by clicking here.