Materiality Process and Results
As an industry leader, SGS is committed to sustainable operations. To achieve these effectively, it is important that we consider and report on which issues are most critical to our stakeholders and the business. Management is deeply involved in these processes.
Our Materiality Matrix maps our identified material topics against their importance for stakeholders and their impact on SGS, providing us with a powerful analytical tool.
We decide which issues are critical through a periodic materiality assessment. This process allows us to prioritize issues through our strategies and programs, which allows us to address the issues of most importance to our business. It also ensures that we stay in touch with and respond to the information needs and expectations of our stakeholders. Any issues of importance are included in our Annual Report and our Sustainability Report.
Since 2013 – when we first referenced the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 guidelines as part of a detailed materiality process – our approach to materiality has evolved in line with GRI reporting guidelines.
Our approach has also evolved as we strive to move towards an integrated reporting model.
In 2016, SGS carried out its first materiality assessment process. This involved an external stakeholder survey that involved around 850 stakeholders in 52 countries. These included customers, senior managers, employees, suppliers, NGOs, ratings agencies, sustainability professionals and academics. Alongside the survey, we conducted a detailed benchmark review of globally relevant and sector-specific sustainability issues and trends. We then conducted a weighted analysis of the results by stakeholder type.
This process allowed us to identify our material topics. We subsequently merged these with the outputs of our business risk assessment process.
The result was a consolidated list of the most salient environmental, social and governance topics for SGS. Next, we conducted an impact assessment, which involved over 80% of Operations Council members, to rank each topic according to its relative impact on the business and assess the controls in place to mitigate that impact. The outcome of this process was the development of our first Business Materiality Matrix.
During 2018, we carried out our annual high-level review of the material topics identified, adapting the Materiality Matrix to new trends. The review included the integration of updated information from sustainability ratings, financial analysts, media, investors and new business risks raised as a result of our risk identification process.
In 2019, we will conduct another external stakeholder survey and a high-level materiality review, to ensure that our future business and sustainability goals are focused on the most important issues for our stakeholders and for the business.