Over the past three years, Aegon donated more than €25 million to local charities. And in 2016, Aegon employees spent a record 23,353 hours volunteering. Wherever possible we also try and support local suppliers.
Our approach is simple – we believe a local connection is essential if we are to have a real impact. That is why our donations are managed on a local or national level. In 2017, we supported close to 600 not-for-profit organizations around the world.
In the US, for example, we have the Transamerica Foundation, which gives around 5% of its assets annually to charitable organizations.
In the UK, our Charity Committee is a voluntary body of employees from across the company who organize a wide variety of fundraising activities in support of charities nominated by employees themselves.
Aegon's Policy for Charitable Donations sets out minimum guidelines and standards for donations and support to charities, good causes and other non-profit organizations. Under this policy, Aegon's aim is to direct most of its donations to three main areas: health, welfare or literacy.
In many instances, we try to align our community investments with our company purpose – to help people achieve a life-time of financial security. In 2017, around 62% of our businesses, for example, have active financial literacy programs. And we sponsor organizations that, in one way or another, increase the chances of specific groups to become (more) financially secure.
It's not just about the money we contribute. More than 96% of our staff can now claim paid time-off to work with local communities. In 2017, Aegon employees gave just over 21,000 hours, equivalent to €0.8 million, based on average salaries.
Employee volunteering, we believe, is also good for business: it improves employee engagement and strengthens ties between the company and its local community.
In 2017, we spent 1.4 billion euros on goods and services. Through them, we're supporting the creation of jobs and further economic growth. When we select our suppliers, cost is a key consideration.
But we also want to know that we're working with suppliers who share our basic values. That's why we work through a Sustainable Procurement Policy, which sets out minimum environmental and social standards, covering everything from product safety and corruption to fair wages, working conditions and human rights.
Since 2012, we've been asking all new suppliers to endorse these standards. All our key suppliers are asked to sign a Sustainable Procurement Vendor Declaration, acknowledging and agreeing to Aegon's policy. This declaration, introduced in 2013, is signed whenever contracts are entered into or renewed. And, when contracts come up for renewal, we've also been switching over existing suppliers.
Suppliers are also expected to comply with other Aegon standards, set out in Aegon's Code of Conduct and Human Rights Policy. In addition, Aegon has a company-wide outsourcing policy, and in many countries operates through a centralized procurement function.