Materiality Process and Results
As an industry leader, SGS is committed to sustainable operations. To achieve this 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. Although we do not ordinarily conduct a material assessment on an annual basis, in 2020 we decided to update our analysis to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on our stakeholders’ expectations.
Based on 2019 results, we carried out an in-depth stakeholder engagement exercise, consulting with over 4,000 stakeholders in 112 countries (including customers, employees, suppliers, investors, non-government organizations and sustainability professionals) to evaluate the importance of each topic.
At the same time, our Operations Council evaluated the potential impact these topics could have on SGS. The whole process has given us a deep understanding of the most material topics for the Group.
Having conducted this extensive exercise, we then mapped the topics identified as material onto a matrix showing their position relative to each other, and how critical each one is to our business. The visual representation of the importance of topics to stakeholders in relation to their impact on SGS is a powerful analytical tool.
In the darker section of the matrix sit topics that are most important to the organization – Cybersecurity; Ethical Behavior; Talent Attraction and Retention; Risk Management; Health and Safety; Data Privacy and Protection. These are considered key topics, and have helped to shape our sustainability strategy going forward.
Although less material, all other topics remain an essential part of our sustainability management systems. We systematically reevaluate them to determine whether they have become more material to the organization.