2. Ensure our people management strategies address broader social concerns.
- Enhance systems that support diversity, equity and inclusivity.
- Develop talent to support business growth.
3. Leverage our capacity to support resilient ecosystems.
- Support national objectives to enhance market sustainability.
4. Active corporate citizenship that aligns to our values.
- Operate an ethical and compliant business.
- Manage electricity and water consumption.
Building a highly ethical
Building a healthy and inclusive organisation is a vital part of Discovery's ambition to be a powerful force for social good. Healthy companies are a combination of their people, purpose, culture, strategy and systems. We are working to build a culture that is inclusive and accountable, where our people are valued and developed, and where ethics consciously informs decision making.
“Ethics is at the heart of sustainability, as the conscience of an organisation.”
Tswelo Kodisang, Discovery’s Chief People Officer
Where ethics are not well defined in an organisation, employees can fall back to their own frame of reference – their personal ethics. With over
12 950 people in Discovery Group, it is crucial for the organisation to set the required standards for values-driven behaviour and drive a culture of ethical business practice.
Ethical issues often extend beyond what is legal or compliant, although there is often overlap. For example, Discovery has strong governance processes to monitor conduct risk and adherence to Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) regulations. Where internal teams may be satisfied that a change to a product or a new product meets TCF regulations from a financial, legal and business perspective, the Ethics Office is increasingly performing an important function in advising on the ethical implications beyond compliance, so ensuring that ethics is deeply embedded in product design.
A detailed assessment of ethics risks, opportunities and management processes is currently being performed by PwC. Once concluded, the assessment will inform an ethics strategy to guide our approach to driving ethical business and to develop metrics to measure ethics culture over the next three years.
The Ethics Office's mandate extends to international operations where Discovery has management control.
In Vitality Group markets where we do not have management control, we are still able to provide input on ethics, on issues from human rights and child labour policies, to environmental issues. For example, in one area of operation we were able to advise our partners on the adverse environmental effect of rhino poaching, with ingredients derived from rhino horn subsequently being removed from their medicine formulary.
757 employees attended ethics training
7 597 successful online ethics courses completed
9 incidents reported to the ethics hotline
We have partnered with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) to launch the GIBS Ethics Barometer for South African business. It aims to impact attitudes and behaviours, and help ensure a more successful, sustainable future for South African businesses and our nation. For Discovery, our participation will provide a benchmark against participating organisations in measuring ethical conduct in relation to all our stakeholders, and so provide insight into opportunities to extend ethical business practice to enhance the sustainability of our organisation.
Ethical data use and data protection
Data is a key enabler of our Shared-Value business model. Without it, we would not be able to track and incentivise healthy behaviours, and measure if those behaviours are achieving real impact. But we are cognisant that our reputation is ultimately held in how we contract with our clients, which includes how we use data and how clients trust us with managing their data.
With rapid advances in technology and big data, we are revising our approach to data management and the ethical use of data. Through the Ethics Office, we have set a challenge to test that we are always ahead of what is merely legal and compliant; we must be in step with what is ethical and in the best interest of the collective.
Discovery is unique in South Africa in terms of the volumes of data we collect and analyse. We have a comprehensive Data Governance Policy Framework covering all aspects of the collection, use and retention of data.
To protect client information, we have robust processes controlling access to specific systems and databases. Database owners are senior and executive-level staff, and actuarial evaluation teams provide authorisation for each user, review access logs and revoke access to any employee who moves to a different role. Teams that perform analysis on data drawn from different businesses can only access consolidated and anonymised data stored in a central data lake. Here again, access is strictly controlled.
The Ethics Office will provide a key role in assessing ethical and fair data use in how our products are delivered. For example, by ensuring that our incentives structures can also fairly reward disabled clients for healthy behaviours, or accounting for reduced activity among pregnant women. We will be working to anticipate ethical issues and proactively build solutions into our products.
The Ethics Office will also provide an advisory role on megatrends that may impact the Group, including the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics. With the increasing pace of advancement in these fields, a more proactive approach to ethics is crucial in protecting the interests of our clients and remaining true to our values.
There were 13 complaints regarding breaches of customer privacy and losses of customer data during the year.
We have a significant duty of care to our members who trust us with their data, and we do everything we can to minimise the risk of breaches to our systems.
Derek Wilcocks, Discovery’s chief information officer