A look back
The concept of materiality was first introduced by the US Stock Exchange Commission SEC in the 1930ies with a view to ensure that average investors get all the information they need from listed companies. During the last decade this concept has become the fashion in the sustainability/ESG world and has been widely used and applied.
Participants of this interactive workshop learned best practices from internationally renowned companies, i.e. Novartis, Zurich, Unilever and the IIRC.
Novartis’ most recent Materiality Assessment has brought it to a completely new level: It is thought to be a strategic tool for senior management. As a consequence it includes the broad scope of all possible business issues and is designed to inform strategic decision making rather than just a basis for Reporting. Dr. Michael Fürst, Head Social Innovation & Strategy, and Denise Weger, Corporate Responsibility Manager and responsible for strategic initiatives at Novartis, presented and explained the purpose and rationale for their approach, including the use of scenario techniques.
Justin D’Atri, Sustainability Change Manager at Zurich Insurance, shared their approach to materiality driven by big data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Becky Pearce, Investor Relations Director at Unilever, presented their learnings from the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism (EPIC) and the steps that Unilever have been taking to incorporate non-financial value drivers into strategy and the communication to investors.
Additionally, participants got an update about ‘Integrated Thinking & Strategy’ by Jyoti Banerjee, the leader of IIRC’s corresponding special interest group where more than 40 international companies are currently actively engaged.
The structured discussion session turned around some of the hot topics with regards to materiality like definition, scope, ownership, internal embedding, repetition, disclosure and reactions of capital market professionals.
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