Materiality is a concept adapted from financial reporting for use in the sustainability and corporate responsibility context. Formal definitions abound, but at heart, material issues are those that are most important to a company and its stakeholders.  Materiality analysis – identifying the most significant issues – is the foundation of successful sustainability strategies, as well as Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Integrated Reporting.

BuzzWord was one of the first practitioners of Materiality Analysis, using it to focus Ford Motor Company’s 2004/05 reporting. We have helped many of our clients conduct their first analysis, update an analysis, or use materiality analysis to transition to GRI G4 reporting. We offer a tailored approach to materiality analysis, using our proprietary methodology and adapting it to be as efficient as possible while meeting the client’s objectives. This can include leveraging existing information as much as possible and identifying a targeted approach to stakeholder review of the analysis (a requirement of GRI-based reporting).

Materiality in Action

In 2014 and early 2015, BuzzWord developed and applied an innovative method to the fifth materiality analysis we have conducted for Ford Motor Company. The method maps material issues to megatrends and uses the trends to “amplify” the issue prioritization. Details of that method and the results are available in Ford’s 2014/15 Sustainability Report, which also provides one of the most transparent accountings of the method and results of a materiality analysis.

In addition, BuzzWord conducted the first materiality analysis for Smithfield Foods as the basis for the company’s A-level GRI reporting.

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