Practices that have stakeholders, not shareholders, in mind.
NIA uses two lenses to examine practices, systems, and structures to restore balance in communities: Sustainability and Equity.
Each one of these lenses helps a company focus on key elements of operating principles that will have an impact on the long-term success of the organization.
Together, they offer a comprehensive approach to operating a company with ethical and sustainable practices that have stakeholders, not shareholders, in mind.
Sustainability and equity philosophy.
All of NIA’s resources — social, financial, and physical — are committed to practices, systems and structures that restore balance to the earth’s environment and equitable treatment for all groups. This is commonly known as environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).
It was a conscious decision, however, for NIA to define these practices as “sustainability” and “equity” rather than ESG and other commonly used terms such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JDEI) — as this allows NIA the flexibility to develop its own comprehensive approach to operating with ethical and sustainable practices that have stakeholders, not shareholders, in mind.
NIA works to ensure that all practices, systems, and structures — written or unwritten, conscious or unconscious — support the full equality of all groups. This includes equal access to power, ownership of resources, and correcting inequities caused by the existing paradigm.
It is part of NIA’s makeup to develop and promote practices, policies, and culture to empower leadership and employees to regularly and systematically question and address the inadequacies of existing systems which have enabled any group to gain or sustain any advantage over the other.
NIA is committed to changing whatever is within its power to change. When change is not directly possible, NIA shines a light on the inequity to help bring attention to the issue, attract support, and find resolution.
Sustainability and equity in action at NIA.
Since its founding, NIA leadership has incorporated an understanding of its obligation to incorporate Sustainability and Equity risks into the evaluation of investment risk.
As a group of insurers, NIA has significant funds to invest before ultimately using them to pay claims. After considering the information available about climate change, as well as social and governance practices and impacts of the entities in which NIA invests, the board of directors updated its Statement of Investment Philosophy to make sure that NIA is appropriately taking into account all of the factors necessary to protect investments over the long term in the best interests of members.
After the boards of directors adopted the Statement of Investment Philosophy, NIA conducted an extensive review of investment managers and selected one that was believed would best enable NIA to deliver the results in line with its philosophy and our investment guidelines.
Selection of vendors.
In 2022, NIA made it mandatory for potential vendors to answer a questionnaire about equity and sustainability practices at their organizations before being considered.
NIA wants to select vendors that will deliver the absolute best value for its members and the organization believes that those organizations that incorporate principles of sustainability and equity into their practices, are best positioned to deliver superior results.
Remote workforce: A distributed team allows NIA to reduce its carbon footprint by reducing employee travel. At the same time, this has allowed NIA to develop an even more diverse workforce by drawing employees from diverse communities and geographies.
Reduced travel: NIA has reduced travel (in particular air travel) by over 50% since 2019. This applies to all staff and contractors, brokers, attorneys, auditors, and more. This has resulted in a significant reduction to NIA’s carbon footprint.
Net-zero offices: NIA’s headquarters were designed to produce all the power it uses and, with 356 rooftop solar panels, is capable of operating independently of conventional power grids, producing all of its own power.
Vermiculture: In the vermiculture bin just outside the office, NIA (well actually the earthworms) turns all of our vegetable trimmings, including damaged or overripe fruit and vegetables, into rich compost to be used in on-site gardens.
The building has full environmental controls that provide passive heating and cooling using ambient air and the sun. Additionally, there is efficient lighting, low-use water appliances, and drought-tolerant plants.
A community room is available as a meeting room free of charge during business hours for use by nonprofits in the local community. These nonprofits don’t even have to be NIA members, just insured 501(c)(3) organizations.
Science-based metrics and targeting.
Getting better at sustainability is complicated and requires hard work and analysis. NIA employs methods, tools, and standards created by Science Based Targets and is constantly working to improve its measurements and practices.
Not only has all of this been done without a negative impact on productivity at NIA, but it’s also increased productivity across the board.
NIA encourages every organization, regardless of size, to take the time to evaluate operations with a focus on Sustainability and Equity. It’s the right thing to do, it advances nonprofit missions, and it delivers superior results for stakeholders.