“Long-term thinking is in our DNA.”
A few months ago, you were made the CSR officer for VIG. What are your responsibilities?
Ringler: There are already diverse activities in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility in all of the 25 markets, in which VIG is active. One of my main tasks at present consists of coordinating this wide topic. This includes the setting in motion and promotion of a constructive exchange of experiences across borders and the establishment of a common basic understanding of CSR. We also ultimately want to ensure that we as a Group will be fully able to comply with the legal requirements in regard to sustainability reporting, which will go into effect in 2017. Beyond that, it is important to me to set new impulses and strategic goals and to define the activities necessary to accomplish this.
Ringler: Yes, it really is. I am very happy that this position was created and of course I am particularly glad that I was entrusted with this responsibility. I believe that it is a great privilege to confront topics that are near and dear to my heart, even beyond the professional context.
What is the importance of CSR for an insurance company?
Ringler: As an insurance company, we promise our customers to deliver a clearly defined service in the future. Take life insurance or health insurance, for example, and you are talking about a time frame of 30 or even 60 years. Long-term thinking is in our DNA, so to speak, as part of our core business. The fact that VIG has this kind of vision is proof of our company’s 190-year old history.
Which CSR topics are of particular importance to VIG?
Ringler: On the one hand, there is the topic of conserving resources, HR issues, but also the support of social and cultural institutions. On the other hand I believe that we must integrate CSR much more into our core business. How can we sustainably support our customers with their safety and financial security needs? How do we as an insurance group handle the demographic changes or natural disasters, which occur more and more frequently? These are central issues and questions, which strongly influence the product design of our Group companies and also our company's strategy.
Where else do you see the need for action over the coming years?
Ringler: As I mentioned, many of the topics we have been dealing with intensively for quite a while. Now it is time to build a solid roof for all those diverse measures and to communicate our plans to the outside world even more. In doing so, one of our foremost interests in the design of our CSR agendas is to structurally involve our customers, employees and business partners and to proactively ask them, which topics are important to them. What good are our best ambitions and intentions, if they fail to address the real target, namely long-term satisfied customers, employees and shareholders?
In the spring of 2015, 31-year-old Petra Ringler took over the Group-wide CSR agendas of VIG. Ringler graduated with a degree in economics with focus on the insurance industry. She joined the company in 2008.