Knowing what matters
Sustainability is an almost endless topic that businesses should address in the interests of the environment and society. The question for companies is: Which topics are really relevant for stakeholders? The Uelzena Group applies a tested and proven instrument for gaining these new insights: the materiality analysis.
The materiality analysis is a method used by companies to find out which topics from the three sustainability fields ecology, economy and social issues are essential for them. After having identified these topics, they are integrated into the strategy, targets and the management approaches. In doing so top management can control the progress, if any, that the company is making in handling relevant topics. Moreover, the company can provide reliable information and data on these topics for its stakeholders in a comprehensive and transparent way.
The Uelzena Group performed its first materiality analysis in 2014. Members from the top management level internally discussed, weighted, assessed and evaluated certain topics. The results from this internal analysis were then supplemented by information collected by staff members in discussions with stakeholders. The resulting matrix contains more than 20 topics that were weighted differently.
MATERIALITY ANALYSIS: KEY ASPECTS OF THE UELZENA GROUP
Up until now: only slight modifications of the existing analysis
In subsequent years, the working group on sustainability of the Uelzena Group has reviewed and slightly adapted this list, based amongst others on a continuous learning process in the handling of GRI guidelines and several sustainability topics. For example, newer studies have showed that the item “transport” plays only a minor role for milk processing companies.
The results of the materiality analysis are the foundation for the strategy and all sustainability activities. Each change impacts on the entire concept because there is a management approach with goals, measures and control instruments behind each topic. Moreover, we have to collect data and information as defined and requested by the GRI disclosures.
The environment in which the Group produces, sells and operates is subject to constant changes. These may involve expectations from stakeholders, market conditions, regulatory changes and competitors. These changes are the reason for a general update of the materiality analysis including a new stakeholder dialogue. Both processes were initiated in 2017 and should be completed and evaluated in 2018.
It is possible that new topics will be added, others may be eliminated and perhaps the weighting may also be changed. In principle, we could add new aspects or approach certain topics in a different way than intended by GRI. The GRI explicitly supports such a procedure just so long as it is well substantiated. The results of the materiality analysis will provide the necessary findings on whether changes are needed and also how to implement and substantiate them.