Waterloo co-op students help drive sustainability at Definity

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Group of Definity co-op students and employees holding a sign saying they provided 1,588 meals at the food bank

By: Namish Modi (he/him)

The organization prioritizes the environment, inclusion and community involvement with student support.

Definity Financial Corporation (Definity) supports positive change in their community through a sustainability lens. The organization utilizes co-op students to help lead their sustainability and corporate citizenship initiatives.

Definity, the parent company of Economical Insurance and Sonnet Insurance, is a property and casualty insurance organization that provides coverage for vehicles, businesses, homes, farms, pets and more. The organization has hired University of Waterloo co-op students for several years. As Definity prioritizes sustainability, student talent is more important than ever.

“Regardless of their field of study, we really need students that bring a sustainability mindset and an inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) lens to the work that they do, that’s really important.” says Victoria Salim (she/her), campus and brand program manager at Definity.

The organization’s goal is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and investments by 2040 or sooner. Additionally, by 2026 they want to have at least 30 per cent women and 15 per cent Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC), LGBTQ+ and/or people with (dis) abilities at the vice president and executive team levels.

Waterloo plays key role in sustainability

With their corporate head office in Waterloo region, the organization has engaged with different partners to execute their IDEA plans — including taking part in an event with Waterloo’s National Society of Black Engineers. The organization also participates in several events related to women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Recently, several Definity Waterloo co-op students participated in a volunteer day at the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, demonstrating their commitment to building a better world for our community. “We’re looking for people who are passionate about what they do,” says Salim. “The recent volunteer day is an example of our commitment to how everyone plays a role in contributing to our sustainability goals.”

Definity created a sustainability co-op student role who led a case competition for all co-op students at the company. The goal of the competition was for students to envision how helping clients and community can help build a better world.

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Bringing in students to push us to move forward is extremely important. From the sustainability and IDEA lens, we want to make sure all these voices are heard. It brings different perspectives, different opinions. Ultimately, it will help achieve our business goals if we have a voice for everyone.



In 2022, team Definity accomplished:

  • Establishing and disclosing ambitious targets related to climate change and representation in leadership.
  • Publishing inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report and disclosures aligned to the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
  • Converting a five-year revolving credit facility to sustainability-linked loan structure which tied the cost of capital to achievement of climate and diversity objectives.
  • Establishing executive-level ESG Steering Committee to oversee strategic direction and support activation.

Definity hires from several programs and disciplines

In 2021, Definity made its debut on the Toronto Stock exchange with the second largest initial public offering (IPO) in Canadian history, becoming the parent company of Economical Insurance, Sonnet Insurance and Petline. Definity hires students from several programs and disciplines, especially from the Faculties of Mathematics and Arts.

“We’re always trying to strive to provide our students with valuable work and projects that really help achieve our business strategy,” says Salim. “They’re curious, optimistic and friendly. All of our co-op students have really impressed us with how quickly they have been able to learn and integrate to the team in a short amount of time – and many of which go on to secure a role with us upon graduating.”

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