At the top of the list of 2014 is human resources. The combination of common ESG themes and generic business themes signals steps towards integration, but does not imply integration per se…
Listed below are the top material topics identified and disclosed by the 24 Industry Group Leaders (2013-2014) of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). The list was compiled by examining their 2013 sustainability or integrated reports, listing the top material issues reported from the materiality determination process of each. This involved noting the top quadrant issues displayed in a Materiality Matrix, or the top material issues listed in cases where not a matrix but alternative graphic or listing was published. These are areas where both management and stakeholders agreed that the issues are highly significant.
Almost all (23) of the industry group leaders have used the GRI Guidelines in their reporting, whereas four “Annual Reviews” or “Integrated Reports” also refer to the IIRC. Furthermore, five of them also referred to using AA1000 in their materiality determination process. As far as generic social responsibility standards are concerned, noteworthy is the reference (membership) to the UN Global Compact by 20 industry leaders. These references influence the initial menu of subjects they start with in their process of identification and prioritization.
Of special interest looking at the top ten is not so much the suggestion that they are “the most important”, but rather the fact that they tend to be top material topics across all industry sectors. The umbrella headings used in the top ten brief listing below is expanded on in the full table (bar chart below), giving more indication of the terminology used by the industry leaders.
The top ten topics reported for 2013-2014 were:
- Human resources
- Product excellence
- Climate change
- Environmental stewardship
- Community impact
- Supply chains
- Labour (health & safety)
- Resource efficiency
- Improved access
The top ten signals that employees and customers (incl consumers), as well as suppliers and local communities are central. Furthermore, the trend towards integration in reporting is also reflected in the combination of known ESG themes such as climate change with generic business themes such as business growth and competitiveness. This combination – in the absence of for example linking non-financial and financial performance – does not by definition signal integration.
Debates on development and equity globally clearly have an impact, as can be seen in frequent reference to “Improved Access (to services in finance, health, information and communication technologies, electricity)”. Some less mentioned topics are inevitably specific to individual sectors of the 24 industry group leaders, for example responsible investment, responsible R&D and responsible gambling.
Varying preferences for specificity can be seen from the total of 35 topics reported, ranging from different dimensions of human resources (such as talent, attraction, retention, engagement) to a very generic “social responsibility”. The presentation by the 24 individual companies of the results of their materiality determination processes, for example in Materiality Matrix format, can be found below. These are extracts (PDFs) from their reports. In as far as disclosed, indication of the process followed is also provided.
Table: 35 material topics reported by DJSI leaders (2014)
DJSI Industry Group Leaders 2013-2014:
(Click each for links to PDF extracts)