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Materiality Assessment PDF Guide

02 October 2018

We help our clients bring sustainability risks and opportunities into the mainstream of their business strategy and reassure their key stakeholders that they are addressing the right environmental, social and governance topics that could impact their business.

Get more value from your materiality assessment

Materiality assessments should inform more than your sustainability report. Done well, materiality plays a critical role in risk mitigation and provides an effective and rigorous methodology to identify and assess the potential impacts of emerging issues on your business. Materiality helps you:

  • Integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities into the commercial strategy.
  • Respond to interest and pressure from stakeholders, including customers and investors.
    Meet demand for greater transparency on material ESG risks.
  • Maximize return on investment by focusing on the most strategic and impactful issues, including those that mitigate risk, reduce cost, improve market differentiation and enhance brand value.
  • Meet the requirements of standards and indices, including GRI, SASB, CDP and DJSI, and make a meaningful connection between your priorities and the global agenda of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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The drivers for materiality assessments are growing

Do you understand changing stakeholder expectations of how you identify, assess, manage and report on the increasingly significant ESG risks facing your business?

Do you know what ESG risks your company should be managing and mitigating in the short and medium term? And does your Leadership Team / Board share this understanding?

Can you point to examples where you’ve used the outcomes of a materiality assessment to inform a strategic initiative within your business?

A typical materiality assessment process

There is no single prescribed approach to materiality assessment. Some companies devote significant resources engaging hundreds of stakeholders and commissioning new research. Others simply review existing research in a desk-based assessment. Your process should balance meeting the expectations of stakeholders with your organisation’s priorities - and will probably include some or all of these steps.

1. Planning

  • Confirm approach, timeline and deliverables.
  • Agree classes of evidence to generate / review - benchmarks, research, stakeholder views, surveys.
  • Discuss ERM criteria, as well as desire to align with sustainability guidelines, standards and indices.

 2. Research and Data Collection

  • Review prior materiality assessment work.
  • Refine / validate list of relevant topics through peer review, sector standards, customer requests, emerging issues tracker, etc.
  • Conduct science-based review of evidence where relevant.

3. Outreach and Engagement

  • Design survey and interview guides.
  • Conduct interviews and / or focus groups with key stakeholders.
  • Administer online survey.

Access all 5 steps by downloading your copy of our PDF guide:


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Did you catch our recent webinar on materiality?

Beyond the Matrix - getting more from Materiality:

Watch the recording