A commitment to having a positive impact on our stakeholders is part of who we are as a mission-centric company. As such, we regularly talk with investors, rating agencies and other stakeholders about our most critical issues and the ESG and CSR strategies we are employing to address them. In 2021, we directly engaged with our stakeholders in a variety of ways. We conducted pulse surveys for employees and discussed ESG topics — such as diversity and corporate governance — with 22 active investors representing 32% of outstanding shares.

Stakeholder engagement

From late 2021 to early 2022, we undertook a formal stakeholder engagement survey to update and refine our understanding of potentially relevant ESG issues and their materiality. We selected an initial list of topics as a starting point for engagement based on ESG ratings providers, ESG reporting frameworks and peer benchmarking. We solicited input on these from 10 different external and internal stakeholder groups to ensure a diversity of voices both inside and outside of the business were included in the assessment. Engaged groups were the Board of Directors, executive officers, employees, educators and customers, agents, investors, vendors, credit rating agencies, an industry regulatory body and community partners. For this assessment, we engaged with stakeholder groups via surveys and interviews, in addition to utilizing publicly disclosed guidelines and information to understand the priorities of several stakeholder groups.

Materiality assessment results

After engaging with stakeholders, we developed a materiality grid to highlight Horace Mann’s key priorities. As identified by this assessment, top priorities include:

  1. Business Ethics
  2. Data Security & Privacy
  3. Employee Training, Development & Retention
  4. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Given that we have recently completed our materiality assessment, our Board of Directors and executives will take these priorities into account as they determine next steps for advancing our company’s ESG programs, including how best to manage and report on these topics going forward.

Materiality grid. This scatterplot shows "Significance to Stakeholders" on the Y-axis and "Significance to Horace Mann" on the X-Axis. Three focus areas are listed as Environment, Social Impact, and Governance.   In order of important to critically important and significant to stakeholders: Responsible Investment (Social Impact focus), Philanthropic investment (social impact focus) Environmental Stewardship (Environment focus), Educator Programs and Partnership (social impact focus), Talent Management (Social Impact focus), Diversity and Inclusion (Social Impact Focus), Climate Risk (Environment focus), Data Security and Privacy (Social Impact focus), and Corporate Governance (Governance focus).   In order of important to critically important and significant to Horace Mann: Environmental Stewardship, Responsible Investment, Talent Management, Climate Risk, Philanthropic investment, Climate Risk, Diversity and Inclusion, Data Security and Privacy, Educator Programs and Partnerships, and Corporate Governance.

Horace Mann’s 2021-2022 materiality assessment provides an enhancement on the 2018 assessment by covering a wider range of more specific topics and reaching a larger stakeholder audience. Compared to previous materiality assessments, human capital management topics were determined to be more critical to business success in this year’s assessment. This aligns with the national conversations on inclusion and employee total rewards/compensation. Environmental topics were lower than the previous assessment; we attribute this to growing awareness that companies such as Horace Mann have a relatively small environmental impact as an insurance and financial services provider.