Climate change and energy moved to the top of the list of material topics reported by the DJSI Industry Group Leaders of 2015. Second was Human Resources, top theme of the previous year…

The Paris climate conference of late 2015 clearly had an impact in setting the agenda. A myriad of business climate initiatives created over the last decade was given further momentum by more recent investors initiatives such as the Montreal Carbon Pledge of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the Portfolio Decarbonisation Coalition and the Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change (IIGCC).



Listed below are the top 10 out of 40 material topics reported by the 24 Industry Group Leaders of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) of 2015. The list was compiled by examining their 2014 sustainability or integrated reports. Compared to the previous year, Resource Efficiency and Improved Access dropped from the top 10 while Human Rights and Strategy & Execution moved up into the top 10.

The Human Rights agenda continues to be driven by debates on diversity, gender and follow-up to the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. The focus on Strategy & Execution reflects interest in performance in terms of finance, business and sustainability. For the different leaders it is illustrative of varying degrees of integrated thinking.

The top ten topics reported for 2014-2015 were:

  1. Climate Change & Energy
  2. Human Resources
  3. Product Excellence
  4. Community impact
  5. Ethics
  6. Supply Chains
  7. Human Rights
  8. Strategy & Execution
  9. Environmental stewardship
  10. Labour (health & safety)

All of the 2015 Industry Group Leaders reference use of the GRI Guidelines (G4). Seven published Annual Reviews or combined sustainability / integrated reports, of which two referenced use of the IIRC <IR> Framework. Eight reference use of the AA1000 standard in their materiality determination, usage that in combination with GRI facilitates much greater clarity on process and key material topics identified.

The top 10 of 40 material topics reported is listed below, with numbers of reporters added. Its more complete topic descriptions give further detail on the terminology used by the DJSI leaders in their reports. Of the complete list of 40 topics, the bottom 10-15 topics reflect themes that are more specific to individual industry sectors, including topics such as sustainable mobility, deforestation and demographic change.

Materialitytracker also analyzed the top material topics reported for 2014-2015 by the full list of DJSI Industry Leaders, a list of 65 companies published at the beginning of the year versus the smaller group of Industry Group Leaders published by RobecoSAM in September. Interestingly, the top 10 material topics for the 65 were the same as the core 24. Only the order of topics changed. While climate and human resources still appeared at the top for the 65 Industry Leaders, these were followed by labour occupational health & safety (OHS) at position 3 versus position 10 among the 24 Group Leaders.

Table: Top 10 material topics reported by DJSI leaders (2015)

DJSI Results 2015

DJSI Industry Group Leaders 2014-2015:

(Examples, indicating Presentation of Material Topics and Description of Materiality Determination Process. Click each for links to PDF extracts)