By Marion Dupont & Laia Puig
When it comes to materiality, companies are faced with an increasing pool of documents, webinars, blog posts, articles or best practices shared in numerous sustainability or corporate responsibility websites. Most of these highlight the importance of conducting a materiality assessment process including both internal and external stakeholders, while a few others tend to debate over a common definition of materiality that should be common across different reporting frameworks, such as SASB, GRI or IIRC. However, few of them concretely nailed in the different sources a company should look at when conducting its materiality processes, just like the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard does.
Do all companies conduct interviews on employees? Analyze their reputation on social media? Meet external stakeholders in person? Can we observe differences among different industry sectors?
To answer these questions, we conducted a materiality benchmarking analysis on 50 companies from five different industry sectors: Financial, Energy & Energy Utilities, Food & Beverage, Mining and Telecommunications. We’ve analyzed their reports to identify the different sources they used and the internal and external processes they put in place to conduct their materiality assessments.
Here is the list of key materiality sources we met for most reports, and a great checklist of the different places you might consider looking into to evaluate your own materiality:
We didn’t notice any specific difference among industry sectors, as each company conducted a different materiality assessment than its industry peers, and implemented a process that fit its own corporate culture better. There is no unique materiality assessment process/format/formula which happens to work for all companies; however, we noticed the following trends in our study: