So far everybody at GRI Conference 2013 embraces the focus on materiality without any restrictions. And there are several strong concerns, for an over-focus on materiality. Sure I support the process in which companies ask their stakeholders: do we report what you expect us to report?
First in process is setting the context
Companies often forget to really introduce themselves. To my eyes, that is the biggest mistake in CSR reporting made.
Many stakeholders do not really know your company. AGAIN: Many stakeholders do not really know your company. I am sorry, if that hurts your feelings, but this is true. Therefore, before you ask your stakeholders what topics they find material, you should set your company and sector context sharply. I will provide some examples:
- When you have lost employees under work time, this is a major issue for your company. When you explain this to your stakeholders, they will naturally recognise that employee safety is an important topic for the CSR report.
- I know from Alliander that their CO2 emissions from energy losses equal the emissions from the 4 big construction builders. This is HUGE! This is from LOSSES! If you do not communicate that to your stakeholders, they will underestimate the importance of CO2 emissions.
- When you have faced major corruption in your organisation, this is an obvious important issue to report on. Will stakeholders that do not know your company recognise that?
NO, obviously not.
Therefore, the company context you provide your stakeholders with is more important than the materiality check!
This is my 6th blog in the series for GRI2013
- CSR Reporting is on the verge of change
- A good corporate citizen reports on tax avoidance practices
- Future of application levels is unsure
- Communication should bridge the gap to the ordinary world
- Reporting outside your ownership boundary
- G4 weighing Context versus Materiality
- Turkish leaders in CSR Reporting