More than 96% of our staff can now claim paid time-off to work with local communities. In 2018, Aegon employees gave just over 14,000 hours, equivalent to €0.7 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.
Charitable Donations Standards
Aegon has donated more than €36 million to local charities between 2015-2018.
We are aligning our activities to further underline our purpose of helping people achieve a lifetime of financial security and our Responsible Business vision. As a result, we have streamlined our Charitable Donations Standards under two overarching themes. The first theme is financial security and education and the second is well-being and longevity. In choosing these themes, we especially sought after an intersection between financial security and well-being.
Under the first theme of financial security and education, we will support charities that promote financial education and financial literacy such as teaching children about finance and helping adults understand their finances. We will also seek out and donate to charities that support older people in their quest for gainful employment whether that be helping them start their own business or retraining.
In order to promote well-being and longevity, Aegon will support charities that encourage physical fitness and mental vitality. We will also support charities that promote the prevention of diseases such as research into Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer, and charities that promote the establishment of livable communities. In particular, these communities should include social and environmental projects for the well-being of residents.
Aegon's Charitable Donations Standards sets out minimum guidelines and standards for donations and support to charities, good causes and other non-profit organizations.
We spent 1.5 billion euros on goods and services in 2018, up from 1.4 billion euro the year before. Through our suppliers, 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 our 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.
We ask 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.