Every day at Unum we work to make a difference in the lives of others. It's the foundation of our business to provide financial protection benefits to individuals and families during some of the most challenging times of their lives.
But making a difference is a part of our culture that extends beyond our commitment to individuals at claim time. We demonstrate this by supporting the communities in which we live and work, advocating for public policies that will strengthen the financial safety net for workers in the U.S. and the U.K., creating a rewarding workplace for our employees and becoming better stewards of our environment. In this citizenship report, you'll learn about some of the ways in which we make a difference in society and our communities.
It all starts with the commitment we have to providing individuals and their families with the financial protection benefits they need to better cope with the loss of a loved one or the inability to work due to illness or injury. That need has never been greater, as people struggle to adapt to the changing economic environment. And with many living paycheck to paycheck, it's important to know they can count on Unum when the unexpected occurs. In fact, our benefits specialists worked with hundreds of thousands of our customers on claims filed last year, resulting in Unum paying more than $6 billion in benefits.
The past few years have been difficult ones for many people, and we are keenly aware of the fragile financial position that so many workers find themselves in today. We continue to build on our public policy efforts to underscore the value of workplace financial protection benefits, as we see firsthand how crucial these much-needed backup plans are to individuals and their families.
That commitment to meeting the needs of others is also a key part of our company culture. We've built our reputation on caring for others, and, as a result, we have the same standard of compassion and excellence in the workplace. We're committed to providing opportunities for our nearly 10,000 employees to grow personally and professionally, find a healthy balance between work and personal life and excel to be the best.
Giving back to our communities is also a natural extension of the commitment we make each day to our customers. In 2011, we contributed more than $12 million to charitable organizations in the U.S. and the U.K. This includes nearly $2 million worth of volunteer time from our employees to organizations that are important to them.
We are very fortunate as a company to be in a strong financial position, and our good fortune helps propel our efforts as a good corporate citizen and neighbor. In reading this report, I hope you are as impressed with the commitment of our employees as I am.
Thomas R. Watjen
President and Chief Executive Officer