Principles and Policies
Sustainability is one of our six business principles – the overarching beliefs and behaviors that guide all our decisions. Each business principle is underpinned by a policy statement that defines our commitments. Then, more detailed operational policies describe the rules that must be observed by our employees and subcontractors.
Learn more about our business principles and policy statements:
Through regular stakeholder surveys, we evaluate key sustainability topics across groups and regions. This analysis informs our materiality assessment, considering megatrends, UN Sustainable Development Goals and risks/opportunities.
In 2020, we conducted a comprehensive analysis to assess the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on stakeholder expectations. Based on 2019 results, we engaged with over 4,000 internal and external stakeholders across 112 countries to evaluate the significance of each topic. Simultaneously, our Operations Council assessed the potential impact of these topics on SGS. This thorough process provided us with a profound understanding of the most material issues for the Group, forming the foundation for our sustainability goals and corporate reporting. Annually, an external third party verifies and assures this analysis during the annual report process.
In 2022, we updated the impact and importance of material topics to align them with our 2022 risk assessment. Each principal risk is linked to one or several material topics.
The result of this analysis is the materiality matrix displayed below, which prioritizes the most significant topics based on their importance to stakeholders and impact on the company. In 2023, we are enhancing this analysis by adopting a double materiality approach and assessing the financial implications of each of these topics. The Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors was created in December 2021 and, among other duties, reviews and approves the materiality analysis of the Group. As we perform our materiality analysis every two years, 2023 will be the first year that the Board of Directors will review and approve this analysis.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
To maximize our active contribution to the SDGs, we have selected those most aligned with our business model and determined specific measurable goals for our supply chain, direct operations and services. This way, we ensure progress tracking and transparency.
Our Sustainability Ambitions 2030 include environmental, social and governance goals for our whole value chain especially designed to ensure that our positive impacts are aligned with the SDGs. In the image you can see some of the SDGs we focus on as well as some examples of our contribution. More examples can be found in our Integrated Report.
Examples of our contribution:
SDG 2: zero hunger
Gafta sustainability pledge
Over 100 of our labs, fumigation and inspection operations are now included in the Grain and Feed Trade Association (Gafta) sustainability pledge directory. This demonstrates our company-wide commitment to following – and promoting – sustainable industry practices.
SDG 4: quality education
Our SGS training programs cover a wide range of topics related to areas such as quality, sustainability, performance, and health and safety. We offer bespoke training from industry experts, and our courses are designed for different levels of ability to address the needs of any industry.
Moreover, SGS Academy for the Community provides high-quality technical training to people earning less than the average living wage in the communities where we operate. The aim of this pro-bono initiative is to support local economic development by enhancing access to quality employment.
SDG 5: gender equality
Empowering women into leadership
We are progressing against our 2023 goal of ensuring that women hold 30% of our senior leadership positions. To meet this goal, we are taking proactive steps, from recruitment (our Recruitment Academy helps us avoid conscious or unconscious biases) to policies (for example, Antidiscrimination and Dignity at Work) to rewards (taking action on the gender pay gap).
SDG 6: clean water and sanitation
World Class Service (WCS) laboratories
Each year, more of our laboratories adopt the WCS methodology to build a culture of operational excellence and resource efficiency – optimizing use of raw materials, such as water.
SDG 7: affordable and clean energy
EEB program and onsite reduction projects
Our EEB program evaluates and reduces the energy consumption in new and existing buildings across the group. The action plans developed for each affiliate provide specific guidance on steps that can be taken to become more energy efficient. Each plan identifies the affiliate’s key facilities, the KPIs that need to be monitored and the opportunities to improve energy efficiency performance.
SDG 8: decent work and economic growth
Human rights policy and report
Our human rights policy has recently been updated to better reflect our commitment. Our human rights report consolidates the principles, policies and initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to human rights.
SDG 12: responsible consumption and production
Our Global Procurement and Supply Chain Management Strategy places a heavy emphasis on sustainable procurement, helping us drive responsible production practices among more than 60,000 suppliers.
SDG 13: climate action
Climate change strategy
Our climate change strategy focuses on three main pillars. The first is to reduce fuel and energy consumption at source, via initiatives such as our Energy Efficiency in Buildings program or our Vehicle Emissions Policy, which is in place to ensure that our emissions are controlled and gradually reduced over the years. The second pillar is to use renewable energy whenever possible. And the third pillar is to offset all our residual emissions.
Actions within these three pillars will allow us to achieve our carbon emissions reduction targets, recently validated by SBTi.