Ant Group’s ESG strategy aims to support 100 million SMEs by 2030
Ant Group, a global technology provider, announced its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy as part of its latest sustainability report. The ESG strategy, which lays out Ant Group’s sustainable development objectives by 2030, will be implemented across all aspects of the Company’s operations.
Ant Group’s ESG strategy is focused around four pillars: Digital Inclusion, Green and Low-carbon Development, Open Ecosystem, and Technological Innovation. Each of the pillars has a corresponding sustainable development objective by 2030:
- Digital Inclusion: support 100 million small and micro-sized enterprises (SMEs) and serve communities globally
- Green and Low-carbon Development: achieve corporate carbon neutrality and support business partners and the general public to significantly reduce their carbon footprint
- Open Ecosystem: continue to provide a safe, trusted, diversified and open ecosystem to drive common development with partners
- Technological Innovation: continue to invest in core technology research and development to provide world-leading technological products and services
“We believe these are the most important pillars for Ant Group to achieve sustainable growth in a future-facing, responsible, and responsive manner,” wrote Eric Jing, Ant Group’s Chairman and CEO, in the sustainability report. ”This framework will guide Ant Group’s value creation and sustainable development in the future.”
Ant Group formulated its ESG strategy based on a comprehensive assessment of changing macro environment and policy trends, its own development strengths, and inputs from the Company’s stakeholders, including customers, users, employees, partners and governments. The ESG strategy was finalized after extensive management discussions and a detailed Board review.
After solicitating feedback from stakeholders, Ant Group defined 19 material issues for its ESG strategy, ranging from “responsible products and services,” “facilitating industry-wide carbon neutrality,” “cutting-edge technology discovery and R&D” and “transparency & risk management.”
To provide organizational support to effectively implement the ESG strategy, the Company’s Board of Directors has approved the establishment of an ESG sustainable development committee, comprised of a subset of the Board, responsible for decision-making supervision, risk management and policy making. The Company is setting up an advisory committee consisting of internal and external ESG experts to provide input and support. Ant Group has also set up an ESG sustainable development leadership team, led by the CEO and the Chief Sustainability Officer, as well as working groups for each of the 19 ESG material issues.
“Our ESG strategy originated from our own long-term needs and was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. The pursuit of sustainable development has been inherent in every step of our journey and is not designed to cater to short-term trends, but rather a necessary driver to realize our vision to be a good company that will last for at least 102 years,” added Mr. Jing. “A good company is never independently defined. We will listen to the opinions and suggestions from all parties with an open mind and welcome supervision and guidance from all of our stakeholders.”
As part of its “Technological Innovation” pillar, Ant Group has been increasing its R&D investments, which grew at an annual rate of more than 39% for three consecutive years (2018-2021), with total R&D spending in 2021 exceeding RMB 18.8 billion (approx. USD 2.77 billion). These investments enabled the Company to continuously turn technological breakthroughs into innovative, inclusive and reliable products and services to support the digital transformation of industries and better anticipate the evolving needs of an increasingly digital global economy. In 2021, MYbank, an Ant Group associate and an online SME bank, leveraged digital technology to deliver convenient, accessible and responsible collateral-free financing services to 45 million SMEs.
In February 2022, Ant Group was recognized as a Top 100 Global Innovator™ 2022 by Clarivate. This prestigious annual list identifies global companies and institutions that contribute new ideas, solve problems and create new economic value.
Since 2017, three years after Ant Group’s establishment, the Company has steadily introduced and advanced its ESG assessment framework and published an annual sustainability report, compiled according to the Global Reporting Initiative standards. These reports, including the latest 2021 edition with the Company’s ESG strategy, can be found on Ant Group’s website (Chinese only for now, English edition will be online in the coming weeks).