We conducted a quantitative, stakeholder-driven approach to identify and prioritize the sustainability issues material to our company and our stakeholders. The analysis leveraged the Accountability AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard and identified issues were aligned with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Reporting Principles and Standard Disclosures.
We began by establishing nine stakeholder groups:
- Non-governmental organizations
- Community leaders
- Regulators / government
To represent the interests of each identified stakeholder group, we selected individual stakeholders using methods appropriate to the type of stakeholder. For example, the largest suppliers by total spend were selected to represent the Suppliers stakeholder group and the largest customers by total sales were selected to represent the Customers stakeholder group.
Identification of potentially material issues
We researched publicly-available information for each stakeholder selected, compiling a list of sustainability issues from various sources, including:
- Annual reports
- 10-K filings
- Corporate social responsibility reports
- Materiality matrices
- Mission statements
For this first year, we did not directly contact stakeholders and decided to rely solely on our external research once we determined that the research provided a sufficient understanding of the issues necessary to support the materiality assessment. However, the information available from internal stakeholders, primarily employees, was limited to social issues and did not adequately address economic or environmental topics.
We plan to expand our employee engagement approach to gather information on economic and environmental issues and incorporate internal stakeholders in the future. This year, our preliminary issues list was limited to issues identified by external stakeholders.
Determining issue significance and alignment with GRI G4 aspects
Each issue identified was initially rated on a four-point scale based on the significance of the issue to the stakeholder. Issues which were not mentioned by the stakeholder in the available sources were deemed unimportant to the stakeholder and were scored on the lower end of the scale. Issues which were either mentioned in multiple public sources or published by the stakeholder as organizational goals, performance indicators, or listed as an issue of high importance in a materiality matrix were scored on the higher end of the scale.
After rating the significance of each issue by stakeholder, we converted the issues into a common terminology using the 46 aspects included in the economic, environmental and social categories of the GRI G4 Reporting Principles and Standard Disclosures. We then aggregated the ratings for each aspect across the external stakeholder groups to calculate the average rating of each issue by group.