CR Leaders: Amy Springsteel, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Voya Financial

amy-springsteel

Amy Springsteel is the director of corporate responsibility for Voya Financial, which rebranded from ING U.S. in 2014, a leading provider of retirement, investment management and insurance products and services.

As part of the of corporate responsibility (CR) team, Amy works to drive the corporation’s triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) by helping to ensure the company’s impact as a contributing force in society and environmental protection.

In conjunction with the head of the Office of Corporate Responsibility, she creates and implements corporate responsibility strategy, methodology and policies for aligning CR with the corporation’s business objectives. She is responsible for leading CR reporting, marketing and communicating initiatives, identifying risks and opportunities, synchronizing measurement and managing national employee volunteerism programs.

Prior to her position at Voya Financial, she worked as a client service director and strategist at Addison Design and formerly operated her own consultancy, Competitive Edge Consulting Associates, Inc. (CECA).

Amy is a member of the board of directors of Junior Achievement of New York and an active member of the New York Corporate Social Responsibility Meetup. She holds multiple sustainability professional certifications and earned both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from The Florida State University.

AccountAbility (AA): How does VoyaTM approach Corporate Responsibility?

Amy Springsteel (AS): Treating our people, planet and partners with respect is a long-standing core principle of Voya Financial. It is important for our company to have a positive impact on the community because it aligns with our corporate values and those of our stakeholders. We also place a particularly strong emphasis on business ethics, which recently resulted in our being named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere. We place the highest importance on responding to the needs of our customers, both in regard to our daily business operations, and in our approach to corporate responsibility (or CR). We also serve as both a source of information for our employees, and a vehicle for involvement. We focus on their specific CR interests and needs whether it is green living, placement on a non-profit board or encouraging diversity of thought.

Voya approaches CR by addressing our work within four pillars: community investment, multicultural affairs, environmental sustainability and business practices and principles.

In keeping with Voya’s vision to be America’s Retirement CompanyTM, we concentrate our Voya Foundation work on financial literacy and children’s education in order to help people understand what finance means to them, so they can build a secure financial future.

AA: What are the top opportunities and challenges for Voya regarding materiality and stakeholder engagement?

AS: Materiality analysis and stakeholder engagement are important to Voya, and these processes are continually refined over time. The main focus for us regarding stakeholder engagement is to establish the most effective process across Voya, be it on a centralized level or for each department individually. Materiality analysis is central to Corporate Responsibility here, helping us to understand where we have an impact and, therefore, where our priorities should lie. Financial literacy is definitely one of our material issues as well as a core competency we can leverage in our community investment work. Voya has key philanthropic signature partnerships devoted to this cause, such as the Voya-Girls Inc. Investment Challenge, which teaches high school girls the value of investing and awards them a portion of their portfolio gains in the form of college scholarships.

Regarding Voya’s environmental impact, as a financial services organization, our products are intangible and do not require sourcing and purchasing of raw materials. This means that we must consider a different kind of impact that may not be as visible compared to other industries. We began formally measuring and managing our environmental footprint in 2007, both to increase our facilities’ efficiency and productivity, and to decrease our use of natural resources. Our environmental sustainability practices range from offering electronic account statements to customers rather than paper, to motivating our employees to live and work in an environmentally conscious way through our Orange Goes Green program, to installing electric vehicle charges at key facilities.

AA: Voya places particular importance on employee engagement. How does Voya assess employee engagement and its impact on performance?

AS: Because our CR mission is to create shared value for our company and the community, we ensure everything we do in CR has both a societal impact as well as a business value. For employee engagement specifically, we have volunteering and giving policies and programs in place, which are carried out by both CR staff and employee volunteers. We maintain employee-led teams such as:

  • Community Partners who plan volunteer events on the local level
  • National Day of Service chairs who plan local events to support the enterprise-wide day of volunteering
  • Employee Giving Campaign chairs who plan events on a local level for our annual Employee Giving Campaign
  • Employee Resource Groups who work to ensure Voya maintains a diverse and inclusive environment
  • Orange Goes Green teams who raise awareness among employees about how to live and work sustainably, and also help conceive of and implement environmentally sound corporate practices

The metrics to assess the value of these programs vary as much as the programs themselves. We measure and analyze data such as number of volunteer hours, volunteer hour value, percentage of participation and total giving, and compare these values on a year-over-year basis. We also conduct employee surveys that obtain important anecdotal information to supplement our data review.

AA: What role does social media play in Voya’s corporate responsibility goals?

AS: In the past, Voya communicated news and information regarding CR activities, including sustainability, via social media channels dedicated solely to CR. Recently it has become apparent through our social media monitoring that a broad range of stakeholders, including customers, take an active interest in how we manage CR. Given this, we’ve incorporated CR into our overall corporate social media strategy. CR now has a presence on all of Voya’s social channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Consolidating our social media communications proved to be of great value, as it allowed us to reach a larger, more diversified fan base with CR-related news.

AA: Where do you see the CR field going in the years to come?

AS: While CR is an emerging field, it is becoming an integral part of business strategy as more companies realize the value it adds to an organization. One challenge impeding wider CR adoption has been a lack of clarity around the language we use in the field. However, our industry has made strides toward adopting a more universal language, which will help people understand the concept as well as the business value attached to it. The public also seems more aware of CR’s role in companies, and public expectations are becoming more finely tuned. I am pleased to find that recently, when I talk to people about my job, they’re familiar with the term “Corporate Responsibility” and have a better understanding of what it means.

Additionally, CR has become a mainstream area in higher education. Many degrees now focus on CR and even hone in on specific areas of CR such as environmental sustainability or corporate philanthropy. Hopefully this will result in many more relevant job opportunities in the market, which will help to ensure that CR remains an integral part of any business.

AA: What advice do you have for the CR field?

AS: My advice is twofold – one for businesses and one for the people working in the CR field. Regarding corporations, integration and collaboration are crucial. The key lies in incorporating these two concepts in a way that works best for each company; and tailoring CR offerings to each area of the business. My view is that CR departments should not operate independently within the business, but rather collaborate closely with each department and business line. At Voya, the CR Department has a customized approach when working with each department and business unit because CR often offers differing benefits to our retirement, investment management and insurance businesses. This helps us yield the best possible outcome from each collaboration.

The second piece of advice is related to the people who work in this field. Intensive communication is fundamental, both internally and externally, as well as understanding what particular stakeholder groups expect or how they can benefit from CR. Reaching out across the company as much as possible will ultimately support the integration of corporate responsibility within the organization itself.