Partner to amplify impact
Supporting sustainability across the Shared-value Insurance value chain

Related material matters and sustainable development goals

Material matters:
5. Leverage our capabilities to support resilient ecosystems

Sustainable Development Goals:
3. Good health and well-being
4. Quality education
8. Decent work and economic growth
11. Sustainable cities and communities
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Strengthening systems and inclusivity

Leveraging the power of technology

Discovery’s astute use of technology is essential to deliver value to medical schemes and their members. We have recorded a 6% decrease in real operational management expenditure in Discovery Health (measured on a per member per month basis from 2016 to 2019) across the 19 schemes we administer. Part of the reduction in operational expenses is by reducing call rates to our call centres; from a baseline set in 2016, call rates have dropped by 19%.

This has been achieved by providing clients with a variety of digitally enabled platforms to engage with Discovery, from our comprehensive website and Discovery app, to FAQs and the AI-driven Ask Discovery, a service bot available on WhatsApp. This frees up our call centre agents to focus on more complex and specialist queries, ensuring that our clients get the service they need.

For detail on investment into technology, see the 2020 integrated annual report.

As disclosed last year, Vitality introduced in-app health management. The app provides an exercise ring showing physical activity levels, as well as personalised modules targeting specific at-risk populations. In the Vitality base, 62.2% of members are currently engaging in the Health Checks module, 8 626 on Medicine tracker (with more than 72% of these being members with chronic heart diseases), and 71.6% of families engaging with the HealthyFood module.

For the exercise ring, 28% of goals are achieved, with a higher goal achievement rate of 33% for at-risk members in the Vitality base. On Medicine tracker, members with diabetes or chronic heart disease have a medicine collection goal achievement rate of 48% and 59% respectively.

Supporting our financial advisers

Discovery has introduced several digitally enabled tools to support our financial advisers. Through AI Quote, Discovery Invest provides tech-driven portfolio optimisation and quoting, delivered in a matter of minutes to assist our broker partners to see what a client’s investment would look like with Discovery in an optimised mix of funds with our unique boosts. It is available on lump-sum retirement annuities, preservers and living annuities. Brokers only need to upload a statement and review the information, and then a comprehensive investment report and quote is emailed to them. This technology enhances the efficiency of the quoting process and also addresses many of the legal challenges faced, through a streamlined digital process to optimise the client journey.

We have compiled a comprehensive library of documents covering the workings and legal considerations for buy-and-sell, key-person and contingent liability policies. This includes a business assurance encyclopaedia, explanatory videos and marketing support.

Through the Discovery Institute of Training portal, the Invest International Training Hub provides targeted support to financial advisers to assist their clients in setting up efficient and well-structured international investment portfolios. The Hub includes the advice of industry experts, and marketing and digital support to keep clients informed and support their efforts in building savings and investments.

Engaging with regulators and contributing to sustainable systems

Discovery operates in a complex regulatory environment where our regulators seek to ensure the viability of our sectors. We have a zero-tolerance culture for regulatory non-compliance and continuously engage with regulators on key issues impacting our business. We participate in policy development through several industry representative bodies and continue to make detailed submissions on key policy developments.

Key regulatory developments and engagements include:

The Health Market Inquiry report released in September 2019
The Health Market Inquiry did not make any direct recommendations regarding Discovery Health. However, it did provide important recommendations regarding improvements in the healthcare market in terms of regulatory oversight and engagement between market participants. Discovery Health continues to develop and promote alternative reimbursement models and value-based contracting, and has supported the Health Market Inquiry recommendations with respect to changes to the Health Professions Council of South Africa rules that would enable more meaningful contracting. Many of the Health Market Inquiry recommendations will need to be incorporated into regulatory changes to have effect. The Discovery Health submission to the Portfolio Committee on the National Health Insurance Bill, 2019 has noted the importance of progressing with these.

Draft Conduct of Financial Institutions Bill
Discovery has made extensive submissions via the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa, the South African Insurance Association and Business Unity South Africa. We support the application of consistent principles of financial sector regulation across all regulated entities, including medical schemes, and would support greater co-operation between the Council for Medical Schemes and financial sector regulators. The Council for Medical Schemes currently has capacity constraints arising from the exit of a number of senior managers and this has also heightened the need for this cross-sectoral support.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a number of weaknesses in the healthcare sector but has also demonstrated the opportunities for enhanced cooperation and collaboration. The relationship between Discovery Health and the regulator has improved considerably, with extensive engagement during the pandemic.

As a key stakeholder in improving health outcomes and efficiency, Discovery is a founding member of the Health Information Exchange initiative, called CareConnect. In February 2020, InterSystems was selected to implement HealthShare Unified Care Record and HealthShare Patient Index to securely provide unified access to vital patient information. InterSystems is a global leader in IT platforms for health, business and government applications.

We believe that the CareConnect Health Information Exchange will usher in a new era for South Africa's health system by transforming the healthcare experience for the patient and the health professional.

- Dr Burnett Biddulph, CEO of CareConnect

Forging social good through partnerships and collaboration

According to research by the World Health Organisation, there are two variants of actors in the circular economy: those that are resource oriented and those that go beyond the management of material resources to incorporate additional dimensions, such as changing models of consumption. Through our Shared-value Insurance model, Discovery is a world leader in incentivising smarter choices that have a positive impact on healthcare consumption and increases savings and investments.

As detailed throughout this Sustainable Development Report, Discovery is active in making people healthier and live longer (including a focus on reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases), making people better drivers and building better businesses, making people better prepared for retirement, and helping people manage their money better. We are also active participants in driving efficiencies in healthcare funding and delivery, and leverage the knowledge and resources across the organisation to create resilient communities.

Operationalised through Vitality, Discovery’s Shared-value Insurance model not only creates a virtuous cycle of value-creation, but it also depends on it for its own sustainability. The value that is created and subsequently shared is not confined to the insurance environment. Our network of reward and retail partners is critical to the success of the model, and these partners share in value creation through increased revenue, improved customer loyalty and exposure to a broader customer base.

We are all prone to behavioural and cognitive biases that mean we don’t always act in our own best interest. Even with access to useful and scientifically sound information on health and wellbeing, we still make choices that lead to poor health, resulting in over-consuming sickness care (where the benefits are seen to be immediate) and under-consuming wellness (where the benefits are long-term and often unnoticed as they are defined by the absence or infrequency of ill health). In short, we focus more on an incident of illness and recovery, rather than a lifetime of healthy behaviours that keep us well. At Vitality, we call it the health and wellness imbalance. Vitality specifically works to counter our biases through active incentives and rewards that shift behaviour to achieve long-term benefits, at both an individual and collective level.

Building and broadening our supply chain

Discovery has a significant impact on the South African economy through a wide network of suppliers that support our business. Our Enterprise Development and Supplier Development initiatives provide targeted interventions that maximise our contribution to economic inclusion. We work to actively transform the economic landscape, with not only more black participants, but more black participants with entrepreneurial drive that leads to innovation, new commercial frontiers, job creation and a broadened asset base.

Discovery targets qualifying Enterprise and Supplier Development beneficiaries as defined in Code 400, which are enterprises with more than 51% black ownership and a turnover of less than R50 million. Preferential selection is provided to black women-owned enterprises. Beyond achieving scorecard targets for Enterprise Development and Supplier Development, we believe in promoting the growth and sustainability of businesses that will extend our positive impact.

Discovery provides financial support, in the form of loans and grants, and non-financial support, in the form of business development support, training and mentorship opportunities, to selected beneficiaries. We achieved the target of 5.16% of net profit after tax for Supplier Development and exceeded the target of 1.8% of net profit after tax for Enterprise Development by over 3.36%.

Enterprise and Supplier Development loans are spread across various sectors to meet the different requirements of business units in our South African operations, including:

Establishing new medical facilities to support the reduction of the cost of care

Partner empowerment and job creation

Supplier development

Increasing product uptake.

During 2020, Discovery’s Enterprise and Supplier Development team engaged with Procurement to understand current supplier gaps across the company to inform pipeline and investment sourcing strategies. Enhanced collaboration is supporting synergy and process efficiency. The Enterprise and Supplier Development team has also developed a more streamlined investment assessment process that ensures that all potential investment opportunities achieve maximum investment and compliance potential. To develop the pipeline of potential beneficiaries, new and creative ways are being developed to engage entrepreneurs and innovators in the heath, wellness and finance industries.

Discovery is also a proud shareholder of the SA SME Fund, a private sector led initiative born out of the CEO Initiative, a partnership between the South African Government and the CEOs of a number of companies to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The R1.4 billion Fund focuses on building entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized enterprises. The SA SME Fund launched the CEO Circle in March 2019 as an initiative that aims to accelerate the growth of high-growth black businesses within the SA SME Fund’s shareholders’ supply chains.

Discovery committed an initial investment to the SA SME Fund of R20 million.

Mid-sized companies are an important engine of economic growth. We will leverage the enormous power of the SA SME Fund’s (being the top 50 corporates) and fund managers to help grow these businesses into significant players in the South African economy.

- Adrian Gore, Discovery Group CEO and Chairman of the SA SME Fund

The SA SME Fund also has a key focus on investing in and growing the venture capital industry in South Africa. This support is critical for stimulating the dynamism and innovation of our economy.

For detail on its investments and the CEO Circle, see the SA SME Fund website.

Driving preferential procurement to support emerging businesses

To support the Group’s transformation imperative, the Procurement team has taken a strategic decision to increase procurement spend with designated groups, with a focus on black youth-owned businesses. Support includes identifying suitable companies and facilitating access within Discovery’s federated model to give them greater exposure and broaden their networks across the organisation.

We also engage closely with existing suppliers to improve their Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment ratings. While our primary objective is to optimise value for money, we maintain minimum requirements for awarding contracts. In instances where a supplier with a sub-optimal Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment level is awarded a contract on the basis of a value proposition, we often agree predefined milestones with the supplier that must be achieved over the term of the contract.

Discovery is also a strategic partner in establishing Mohau Equity Partners, a strategic long-term investor and 100% black women-owned business supported by funding from Discovery. Our objective is for Mohau to identify entrenched and strategic suppliers within Discovery that require support in improving their Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment profile. Mohau has already made a number of strategic investments to support the transformation of our supply chain.

In the 2020 financial year, we spent over R1.57 billion (2019: R1.37 billion) as part of our procurement on black-owned businesses and R1.1 billion on black-owned small- and medium-sized enterprises (2019: R535 million), with over R947 million (2019: R535 million) spent on 30% black women-owned enterprises. Total procurement spend was just over R5.7 billion (2019: R5.28 billion).

A key objective for procurement is to maintain fairness and integrity in the process of awarding and managing contracts. We work closely with internal teams to ensure clarity in defining the scope of work and transparency in the criteria we use in evaluating bidder proposals.

Transforming lives and livelihoods

Discovery ForGood, our employee volunteer programme, demonstrates that Discovery’s purpose lives in the actions of its people. The objective of the volunteer programme is to leverage the capabilities of our staff in building healthier communities. Given the wide range of skills across Discovery, we work with communities to understand their real needs and match these to the skills and resources volunteered by Discovery’s people.

Discovery ForGood has set an annual target of 40% of staff volunteering levels over the year, with 30% achieved in the 2020 financial year despite interruptions to normal volunteer activities between March and June 2020 due to COVID-19. As detailed last year, we have set a 70% engagement target for 2019 to 2023; as a cumulative target, we are already showing good progress, with 49% achieved up to the end of June 2020.

3 000 employees volunteered over
20 712 hours of their time, worth
over R3.4 million in 2020.

Set up in 2006 as one element of Discovery Limited’s Black Economic Empowerment transaction, the Discovery Foundation is an independent trust that invests in the education and training of healthcare specialists. South Africa is experiencing a critical shortage of healthcare resources. The grants disbursed by the Discovery Foundation Awards aim to address this challenge by training specialists for rural areas, developing academic medicine and research centres, and increasing the number of sub-specialists in the country to adequately meet the country’s healthcare needs. This focus aligns with our core purpose and key health insurance offering.

The Foundation has set a target to train 600 medical specialists by 2026, with 349 individuals supported from 2006 to 2020.

In the 2020 financial year, the Foundation committed in excess of R21.6 million (2019: over R19 million) on the awards programme, with R18 million (2019: R13 million) spent directly on 29 individual doctors (2019: 43 individual doctors) and the balance on 11 institutions (2019: 14 institutions).

A number of interventions are in place to achieve the Foundation’s mandate of ensuring 75% of financial support reaches black people. This includes our focus on targeting historically disadvantaged institutions and underserved and rural areas. In the 2020 financial year, 91% of rural individual, academic and sub-specialist awardees in terms of award value met the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment criteria set by the Discovery Foundation. In terms of headcount, 80% of awardees met the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment criteria.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for more healthcare specialists in South Africa to meet health challenges. The Discovery Foundation has made a significant contribution to training this much-needed group of healthcare workers.

For details on the Discovery Foundation, including news, awards categories and past recipients, as well as the selection criteria and application process, visit the Discovery Foundation website.

The Discovery Fund strengthens and improves health systems by developing human capital and skills, as well as primary healthcare service delivery. It also provides support to health policy, advocacy and infrastructure programmes. Focus areas include maternal and child health, HIV and Aids, and tuberculosis.

The Discovery Fund is funding and actively involved in key programmes, including:

Safe Travel to School

Discovery Insure's Safe Travel to School programme is implemented by the Discovery Fund and our partner Childsafe. It uses Discovery Insure’s IP to promote good driver behaviour among scholar transporters in the Western Cape. It has 995 drivers on the programme. A steering committee comprising representatives from Discovery Insure, Fund Trustees, Corporate Social Investment and Marketing guide and support the excellent work being done. The programme will be expanded in a pilot being run in Gauteng, supported by funding from Shell South Africa, scheduled to begin in 2021.


Hlokomela started as an innovative HIV and Aids educational and treatment programme. It now supports quality healthcare delivery for farmworker communities across almost 100 farms in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. After completing the funding and partnership model research, Discovery is further supporting the pilot project that is underway to test and extend the Hlokomela membership concept to enhance the sustainability of its services and readiness to participate in National Health Insurance. Discovery has also facilitated a relationship between Hlokomela and the Breast Health Foundation, where patients can be referred and transported to the Helen Josef Hospital’s Breast Clinic in Johannesburg.

Umthombo Youth Development Foundation

The Umthombo Youth Development Foundation provides scholarships and mentorship to youth from rural areas to pursue qualifications in the health sciences, helping address the human resource shortages at rural hospitals. The success of the model has been driven by ongoing mentoring for those young people to support their progress during their university studies. 44 new graduates completed their studies in 2019, representing a 93% pass rate. There are currently 181 Umthombo students enrolled at various higher leaning institutions.

Discovery Fund is also funding important initiatives in attracting skills and training in healthcare, including:

Africa Health Placements, which recruits local and international doctors to work in South Africa’s understaffed rural hospitals

Breast Health Foundation’s training platform, Phakamisa, which provides online training to healthcare professionals on breast care in private and public hospitals.

To improve community health by supporting community outreach, health education, and the delivery of essential primary health services, the Discovery Fund supported:

42 794 Community members receiving integrated community-based care for infectious disease (against an annual target of 37 900)

19 360 community members receiving integrated community-based care for communicable and non-communicable diseases (against an annual target of 14 507)

15610 women receiving antenatal care and 15 282 infants receiving postnatal care (against annual targets of 12 110 and 11 624 respectively) through organisations with a history of success in the field of maternal and infant care

1 977 women receiving prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes, and 5065 children receiving nutritional support (against annual targets of 3 195 and 5 132 respectively)

Healthcare services for 6 236 children (against an annual target of 14 973).

Discovery’s MoveToGive initiative links healthy behaviour with philanthropy to raise significant funds for various charities. This is enabled by Active Rewards, where members can choose to donate their rewards to a specific cause through MoveToGive campaigns.

Since the launch of MoveToGive in 2015, a total of over R 11.7 million has been donated to various causes with a positive impact on over 152 500 lives in South Africa and neighbouring countries. In 2020 alone, over R4 million was donated to worthy causes including:

  • South Africa's national COVID-19 Solidarity Fund, with the Discovery Fund matching the total contribution to the value of R608 318 to date
  • FoodForward SA, who are providing food to the most vulnerable members of society devastated by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19
  • UNICEF's 'Little Hands Matter initiative', which is building handwashing stations in informal settlements to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Through the Vitality Running World Cup for South Africa in March 2020, we included a number of prizes and incentives. One of these was weekly social prizes, which helped UNICEF vaccinate a child against preventable diseases for every weekly personalised Vitality Running World Cup goal achieved by a member.

This kind of crowdsourced philanthropy aligns strongly with our Vitality Shared-value Insurance model, which seeks to benefit all stakeholders – members, through better health; insurers and investors, through reduced risk; and society as a whole, through healthier citizens and charitable initiatives.

Driving job creation and supporting job security

Discovery Group provides stable employment to 12 980 employees globally.

We adhere to the International Labour Organization guidelines enacted in various labour-related legislation whose primary purpose is to advance economic development, social justice, labour peace and the democratisation of the workplace. It does so by giving effect to obligations incurred on the Republic of South Africa as a member state of the International Labour Organization. Discovery recognises the rights of employees as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

For an overview of applicable policies applied in our South African operations, see Supplementary environmental, social and governance information

For applicable regulations and disclosures for Vitality UK, click here

In South Africa, job creation is the greatest lever in Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment. We are able to have a meaningful impact on transformation, with approximately 51% of new jobs going to African candidates. This supports our efforts to better reflect South Africa's economically active population.
1 185 new employees added in the 2020 financial year, representing a new hire rate of 13.56% (2019: 2 564 new employees)
14.64% employee turnover (2019: 17.47%)
As a measure across our South Africa operations, turnover includes Discovery’s large call centre operations as part of Discovery Health as well as shifting business priorities.

We are committed to local employment and the development of our people, in support of national objectives of job creation and building local skills and capabilities.

For details on our efforts in transformation and skills development, including employment equity, see Organisational capabilities enhancing our sustainability.

Youth Employment Service initiative

In recognising the urgent challenge of youth unemployment in South Africa, Discovery is participating in the Youth Employment Service initiative that was officially launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March 2018. Since inception of the Youth Employment Service, Discovery has created 1 105 new work experience opportunities for unemployed youth.

Discovery is also leveraging its wide network of partner companies in our Insure and Health supply chain to take up the challenge of providing work to young people.

Key indicators

588 jobs created in the 2020 financial year against a target of 499.

340 females and 248 males

96.6% African, 3.4% Coloured and 0% Indian

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