When I wrote this letter a year ago, we were seeing the first signs of the COVID-19 disease reaching Europe. I did not then expect it to turn into a global pandemic that would paralyse the world and cause great distress for countries, organisations and individuals. 2020 did not become the year I envisioned.
Adapting to a new reality
The pandemic has put us, and every other organisation, to the test. I have on several occasions through the years referred to Kindred’s strong culture and ability to adapt to new market realities. Seldom has this been as true as during the past year. As a team, we have always challenged the status quo and found new ways forward. We have overcome obstacles and pushed ahead. The way Kindred’s team swiftly and smoothly shifted to working from a home environment without any negative impact on our business and customer experience is remarkable.
During the spring, employee engagement groups and management teams focused on keeping morale high and ensuring wellbeing was a top priority. We developed internal support networks, launched a tailored employee support program called ‘Kindred Hive’, and we learned how to run digital social events with our teams. I believe this has continued to help our employees as the pandemic increased in intensity during the autumn, with new lockdowns in most of our markets
Setting a new purpose to reflect our long-term ambition
The COVID-19 pandemic also resulted in virtually all sports ceasing in the second quarter of the year. Consumers shifted their purchasing patterns from bricks and mortar to online. Gambling was no exception.
Kindred has always had the ambition to be a leader in creating a safe and secure environment for our customers who see gambling as entertainment. Equally, we believe that we have a role to play in building a better future in our communities. For this reason, we decided to revise our purpose statement to better reflect our long-term ambitions. Our new purpose is to “transform gambling by being a trusted source of entertainment that contributes positively to society”. A bold and important purpose that will require Kindred to work closely with regulators, researchers, partners and peers.
Our annual Sustainable Gambling Conference, this year held digitally for the first time, is one of many initiatives focussed on facilitating open discussion amongst stakeholders on how to achieve a more sustainable gambling environment. During the conference in October, we introduced a project in partnership with Zafty Intelligence, exploring the use of AI to give customers greater control over their gambling, and to provide researchers with important data.
Reporting on our journey towards zero
We have continued to invest in technology, updating our control tools and proprietary detection system (PS-EDS) making it more accurate with a wider range of detection markers based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). These are all important steps on our journey towards zero per cent revenue from harmful gambling by 2023. We have now decided to openly report on our progress on this journey by disclosing our share of revenue from our highest customer risk category, those customers who we deem to have harmful gambling behaviour. Getting to zero will not be an easy task, but we are confident we can get there through collaboration with researchers, investing in technology, and working with regulators to secure a robust regulated market.
Being a positive contributor in society
The second part of our purpose focuses on being a positive contributor to society. Apart from the contribution through taxes, employment, sponsorships, and being compliant with local regulations, we work closely with our partners to engage in communities. Our sponsorships with Swedish Elite Football, Derby County Football Club, Club Brugge, Paris Saint Germain, and the European Football for Development Network, to name a few, all have dedicated community initiatives.
Equally important is our environmental footprint, which as a digital business is limited. With the pandemic preventing travel, our impact as decreased further. Nevertheless, we make sure to offset our entire carbon footprint. We have this year also established Science-Based Targets to ensure Kindred aligns to the Paris Agreement, and I am very pleased to note that Kindred’s Carbon Disclosure Project score has once again improved to a B rating.
Integrating sustainability through improved governance
It is my firm belief that sustainability needs to be an integrated part of our corporate strategy, governance process and business model. To ensure we move in this direction we have set up a Sustainability Council and a Governance, Compliance and Risk Council. These groups work to establish cross-functional integration across Kindred and ensure we continue to make progress on our sustainability commitments.
A year ago, I did not expect that our entire operation would be run from our homes throughout 2020. So, it is with care I say that I look forward to a year where we will be able to once again meet face to face in our offices across the world, but only when it is safe to do so. Kindred’s fantastic team has proven we can give our customers a great and safe experience despite a global pandemic. I am very proud of the team in these difficult times, and I know we will get through this challenge as well.
Henrik Tjärnström, CEO Kindred Group