In 2019, we formalized this initiative through the creation of a cross-functional team. To ensure our program reflects business priorities and the input of our stakeholders, we spoke with our colleagues, shareholders and external experts. Informed by this input, we agreed to focus on initiatives that we believe will deliver long-term value and ultimately build resilience for both our Company and society. We also scaled up work in the areas we identified in 2018 as priorities: diversity and inclusion (D&I), environment, philanthropy and advocacy:
Diversity—Fostering Inclusion. Encouraging a wide range of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives makes AXIS a more rewarding place to work, enables us to attract talented teammates, enriches our perspective and makes us a stronger global organization. In 2019, we expanded our efforts by formalizing our employee-driven D&I Council; increasing internal education through programs like our unconscious bias training; updating company policies and benefits to support an inclusive work environment; scaling efforts to attract, retain and grow a diverse workforce; and encouraging career mobility and professional development. We also partnered with a D&I firm to set, track and eventually improve D&I metrics, and better inform our goals. We plan to deepen that relationship in 2020 to ensure that we are progressing against our goals.
Environment—Protecting our Planet. We believe climate-related risks are among the biggest threats to our planet, and insurers must play a role in addressing them. In furtherance of this challenge, we are proud of our position as a leading global renewable energy insurer. Additionally, in 2019 we introduced a policy to limit thermal coal and oil sands underwriting and investments and established a working group to assess and evaluate potential climate risk-focused actions. To foster a greater understanding of these issues, we co-sponsored a symposium with the University of Illinois with participation from members of our Board of Directors, our executives, and academic experts. Finally, we launched a greenhouse gas emissions assessment to review our own footprint, and celebrated that our new offices in London and Alpharetta are, respectively, BREEAM “Excellent” and LEED “Platinum” certified, joining six offices with LEED Silver, Gold or Platinum level certifications.
Philanthropy—Investing in our Communities. Our Philanthropic programming is driven by our purpose and our employees. With a focus on risk resilience, climate risk, education and sustainability, we endeavor to make an impact in the communities where we live and work through our Matching Gifts program, providing volunteer paid time off to employees year-round, and through community outreach during our Global Giving Rally period. 2019’s rally was our most successful yet—more than 1,000 volunteers, a 15% increase from 2018, participated in more than 70 events globally.
Advocacy—Raising our Voice. AXIS uses advocacy to promote issues, policies and initiatives that align with our values and are important to our Company, colleagues and communities. As such, in 2019 we engaged with organizations such as the Insurance Development Forum (IDF), launched by the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and the insurance industry; scaled-up work in the Lloyd’s DiveIn Festival; and sponsored initiatives through the UN Foundation-backed empowerment initiative, Girl Up.