The Sustainable Development Goals

Supporting the universal call to leave no one behind

Set out as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The SDGs require concerted and collective effort to be realised.

Discovery has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact since inception in 2015 and continues to uphold these principles as part of being a responsible corporate citizen. In the table below, we provide a summary of Discovery’s primary and indirect impact areas that support the realisation of the SDGs.

Sustainable Development Goals
Our primary impact areas

Driven by our purpose and Shared-value Insurance model

Our indirect impact areas

Achieved through our partnerships and support

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

  • Discovery’s purpose directs our efforts in delivering health insurance that provides shared value
  • Through Vitality, we incentivise healthy behaviours that support a healthier society, improved productivity and a reduced healthcare burden
  • Vitality Drive incentivises improved driving behaviours leading to less vehicle accidents
  • Through the Discovery Foundation and Discovery Fund, we support initiatives related to healthcare, including for vulnerable communities, maternal and infant care, healthcare delivery, and the recruitment of healthcare professionals
    • For the 2020 financial year, Discovery’s total corporate social investment spend was R52 million
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are leveraging our data pool of health information to provide disease outbreak modelling, claims forecasting and scenario planning for our medical schemes, as well as providing epidemiological and public health advisory services at a national level
  • We have supported the Public Health Enhancement Fund since inception in 2012

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

  • Discovery has a comprehensive learning and development programme in place to drive life-long learning across its workforce, including graduate programmes and targeted leadership training
    • For the 2020 financial year, our employees received an average of 95.52 hours or 3.98 days of training per employee
  • The Discovery Foundation provides fellowships and grants to individuals and public universities to support capacity development for public healthcare
    • The Discovery Foundation committed in excess of R21.6 million on the awards programme, with R18 million spent directly on 29 individual doctors and the balance on 11 institutions
  • The Discovery Fund supports the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation, which identifies, trains and supports rural youth to become qualified healthcare professionals to address the human resource shortages at rural hospitals
    • 44 new graduates completed their studies in 2019, representing a 93% pass rate
    • There are currently 181 Umthombo students enrolled at various higher learning institutions
  • Through the Discovery|City of Johannesburg Business Centre, we help provide business support, training and mentorship to entrepreneurs from the Orange Farm community

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

  • Discovery has set targets for gender representation across all employment levels as part of its Employment Equity plan in South Africa, and has a specific focus on the promotion of women to senior management roles in South Africa and the United Kingdom
  • The Discovery Board has set gender diversity targets at the board level for the next five years
    Details on the composition of the Board of Directors can be found in the 2020 Discovery Governance Report
  • The Discovery Foundation supports black doctors and black women in particular


Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

  • Our head office in Sandton, Johannesburg – 1 Discovery Place – and regional office in Cape Town – Sable Park – have six Green Star ratings and achieve energy efficiencies through efficient air-conditioning and lighting, among other features
  • Our Environmental Policy sets our commitment to reduce our environmental impact and to continually improve our environmental performance, and optimise and minimise resource consumption, including energy use


Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

  • We provide full and productive employment and decent work for
    12 980 employees in our primary markets of South Africa and the United Kingdom
  • Our Remuneration Committee monitors remuneration practices to ensure that they reflect Discovery’s commitment to fairness
  • Through our active involvement in the national Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative, we provide opportunities for unemployed youth to access work opportunities
    • Since inception of the Youth Employment Service, Discovery has created 1 105 new work experience opportunities for unemployed youth
  • We are committed to upholding the highest standards in respect of human rights and labour regulations in each area of operation
  • Due to the multiplier effect, Discovery’s 10 753 permanent employees in South Africa create or sustain an additional 74 195.7 jobs elsewhere in the economy

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

  • Through our Enterprise and Supplier Development programme, we provide 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
    • Provided Supplier Development in the form of loans to the value of R46.4 million, at 5.16% of net profit after tax (against a target of 1.8%)
    • Provided Enterprise Development in the form of grants and loans to the value of R31.5 million, at 3.51% of net profit after tax (against a target of 0.2%
  • In the 2020 financial year, total procurement spend was just over R5.7 billion
  • Our Procurement team identifies suitable companies from designated groups and facilitates their access across Discovery’s federated model
    • We spent over R1.57 billion as part of our procurement spend on black-owned businesses and R1.1 billion on black-owned small- and medium-sized enterprises, with over R947 million spent on 30% black women-owned enterprises
  • Our Vitality1 platform is a globally unified systems architecture that allows rapid and economical deployment to our partners. Through Vitality1, we are increasing the positive behavioural impacts of the Vitality programme globally


Reduce inequality within and among countries

  • Discovery is committed to achieving equity in the workplace by promoting equal opportunity for, and fair treatment of, all employees and applicants for employment by applying the principles of Employment Equity
    Details on our Employment Equity Plan and the profile of our South African workforce can be found in Supplementary environmental, social and governance information
  • Discovery supports Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa, including a broad approach to addressing diversity and inclusion in the workplace through its Organisational Development, Change and Transformation team
  • Discovery has set targets for representation, informed by National Economically Active Population levels and including people with disabilities, as part of our Employment Equity plan in South Africa
  • The Discovery Foundation’s mandate is for 75% of financial support in all its programmes to reach black people


Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

  • Implemented by the Discovery Fund and our partner Childsafe, Discovery Insure's Safe Travel to School programme works to transport approximately 18 000 children to school safely every day
  • The Discovery|City of Johannesburg Technical Skills Centre in Orange Farm provides technical training, and where possible, internships or job placements for young people


Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

  • Recycling stations are available in the pause areas at our 1 Discovery Place and Sable Park campuses and approximately 72% of the waste generated on our campuses is recycled
  • We provide home recycling stations for our employees to bring in and dispose of their household waste
    Details on our environmental performance, including in waste management and recycling, can be found in Supplementary environmental, social and governance information
  • All our waste is managed and disposed of by specialised and certified service providers

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

  • We are developing a Climate Change Strategy and Reporting framework, providing governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets guidance for aligning to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures


Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

  • Our Board of Directors is the highest governing body of the Discovery Group and is committed to the principles of good corporate governance as set out in King IV Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa, 2016
  • The Group is committed to a values-based and ethical culture, built on the principles of non-discrimination, fairness, integrity and transparency
  • Discovery Health invests substantial resources to address and manage fraud, waste and abuse in a fair and responsible manner
    • As part of these activities, Discovery has a specialised team of over 100 analysts and professional investigators that uses forensic software systems to identify unusual claim patterns
  • The Group Ethics Office monitors ethical conduct, promotes ethics discussions, and drives ethics communication, training and awareness
    • In the 2020 financial year,
      10 068 employees (86% of the workforce) received training on ethics in South Africa
  • Discovery, among others in the private sector, partnered with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) to launch the GIBS Ethics Barometer for South African business
  • Discovery is a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment


Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

  • In partnership with our Vitality network of insurers, we have made a bold public pledge to transform global health by making 100 million people 20% more active by 2025
  • Discovery is a shareholder of the SA SME Fund, a private sector led initiative born out of the CEO Initiative, a partnership between the SA Government and the CEOs of a number of companies to stimulate the economy and create jobs
  • Discovery engages with multi-sector stakeholders through forums such as the United Nations Global Compact and South Africa’s National Business Initiative


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