On This Veteran’s Day, Remember That USAA Promotes Philanthropy as Well as Being a Go-To Insurance Source for Veterans

The USAA prides itself on creating and fostering a mission that not only aligns with employee values, but makes a meaningful impact on social initiatives.
By: | November 11, 2021

As people worldwide call for social change, more employees and customers are seeking to support companies whose missions align with their personal beliefs.

Insurance companies who want to compete, grow a healthy customer base and build intelligent, diverse teams with an eye toward innovation also must think more about establishing a meaningful corporate responsibility strategy that aligns with their brand’s DNA.

While some see corporate responsibility as a relatively new initiative, for others, like USAA, it’s always been at the heart of their organization. Our roots trace back to 1922, when 25 Army officers came together to insure each other’s vehicles when no one else would. Today, we continue to serve military veterans who have protected our freedoms.

Charitable giving, volunteerism and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are natural extensions of our mission and can and should be for all companies across our industry.

Positive change must come from leaders at the highest level. But for corporate responsibility to truly become part of a company’s culture, employees must believe in enterprise efforts to advance social good and put in the work to support their company’s strategy.

Here are five ways a company can advance corporate responsibility initiatives into an engaged culture of employee volunteerism:

1) Develop a Highly Focused CR Strategy

Randy Termeer, SVP, general manager auto and small commercial, USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Group

As employees increasingly look for employers whose ideals parallel their own, it is important to have open communications with employees when developing a corporate responsibility strategy.

Ask employees what they care about, where they would focus their money and efforts and develop your corporate responsibility strategy to reflect those needs.

USAA’s corporate responsibility focus area is military family resiliency, and we direct 60% of our efforts to supporting:

  • Families of military members who are ill, injured or wounded and serving as caregivers for those service members.
  • Financial readiness for service members.
  • Careers, jobs and employment for veterans and military spouses.

2) Give Employees Ample Volunteer and Philanthropic Opportunities

Many of us chose careers in insurance because we’re passionate about helping people during their greatest time of need. That’s why it’s so powerful to give employees the ability to strengthen their commitment to the people they serve through volunteer and charitable giving opportunities.

Encourage employees to communicate openly how they want to contribute and offer flexibility and variety in the opportunities in which they can volunteer.

Some employees may want to roll up their sleeves and volunteer in person, while others may prefer to give a monetary donation. Hold leadership teams accountable for creating opportunities that encourage employees to volunteer in ways that fuel their passions.

For example, USAA designed a virtual walking challenge to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Employees logged their steps in tribute to the first responders who climbed the steps of the World Trade Center in the moments following the attacks. Opportunities like this keep our employees inspired, engaged and excited about serving our members.

3) Work with Others Who Align with Your Company’s Vision for Social Good

A key part of growing volunteerism and philanthropy efforts is to work with others who can help better direct your efforts to those in need and amplify the good work your company is doing.

One of USAA’s nonprofit alliances is Our Military Kids. The nonprofit helps military children from age 3 through 12th grade by paying for sports, arts and other extracurricular activities while their parents are deployed overseas with the National Guard or Reserve or while they’re recovering from severe injuries sustained in a post-9/11 mission.

Recently, a USAA employee team worked with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) on an event with Our Military Kids.

From July 4 – Sept. 11, IICF held a Share Your Thanks campaign, asking its broad membership, families and friends to write words or draw images of encouragement for the children and teens who make daily sacrifices while their parents are deployed or recovering. And in October, we’ll be working with IICF once again as they celebrate year-round industry charitable giving and volunteerism during the 2021 Week of Giving.

Campaigns like this show the tremendous power all insurance organizations can have when they collaborate with others who share the same commitment to serving their communities.

4) Make DEI Integral to the Business

To become an integral part of any company’s culture, DEI must be interwoven into everything that the organization does.

This core belief lies at the foundation of USAA’s DEI initiatives. We view DEI as a local, community strategy because it impacts the areas where our employees live and work.

With that focus, we use our DEI initiatives to improve access to education, helping to grow local talent for employment opportunities and close the income gap.

We show our commitment to DEI in both the internal initiatives we develop and in the causes USAA supports. Last year, we made a three-year, $50 million philanthropic investment to fund nonprofit organizations focused on DEI, education, job training and employment.

5) Get Creative

Harriet Dominique, chief diversity, equity and inclusion, corporate responsibility officer, USAA

Fresh thinking and new ideas related to both volunteer opportunities and at an organizational level can go a long way to build and foster engagement.

When the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person volunteering more challenging, our team at USAA got creative in uncovering virtual opportunities for our employees.

We launched a “Move for a Cause” program that allows employees to support the charities of their choice through physical activity while following social distancing and other safety precautions.

On an organizational level, we committed to helping our members who suffered pandemic-related financial hardships.

USAA supported more than 1 million members with payment arrangements. We also distributed $1.1 billion in dividends to our auto policyholders who were driving less. We launched a telematics program to reward members for safe driving. And we’re exploring new usage-based insurance options that meet the needs of our members.

Helping others sits at the heart of everything we do in insurance. It seems only natural for insurance companies to promote thoughtful corporate responsibility opportunities that align with our purpose to serve and protect others. Charitable giving, volunteerism and a concerted DEI strategy can boost employee engagement and improve customer loyalty while making a profound impact in the lives of others. &

Harriet Dominique is the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility Officer for USAA and President of the USAA Foundation. Randy Termeer is the SVP, General Manager Auto and Small Commercial for USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Group and Chair of International Limited and Société Anonyme. They can both be found at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance