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Materiality: Five Benefits of a Great Assessment

Mary Ellen Smith

A quick web search on materiality brings up hundreds of articles. What is a materiality assessment? Should our company do one? What does it look like? How do we know if we’ve done it right?

This confusion is driven by the fact that materiality is an art, not an exact science. Materiality is simply the method used to help define whether an issue is important to a company and their stakeholders.  This method may change as every company and industry is different, with unique sets of issues and stakeholders.

And like great works of art, the true value of great materiality assessments extends beyond the facade. Materiality assessments can create real value for business and society by:

  1. Informing strategy development: The identification of the company’s most important issues is fundamental for determining the direction of strategy
  2. Justifying resource allocation: A robust process to determine priority issues allows companies to make a strong case for how they decide to distribute people, budgets and investments
  3. Enhancing engagement: As a great materiality process requires internal and external engagement, materiality offers the opportunity for companies to gather stakeholder opinions and provide a solid foundation for an on-going conversation, strengthen two-way communication, improve mutual understanding, and build relationships and reputation
  4. Building buy-in: By involving key stakeholders in the materiality process, companies can build stakeholder trust in the resulting outcomes. This can be a means to talk to stakeholders on corporate responsibility and how it relates to the business
  5. Influencing reporting content and structure: Through the materiality process, companies gain a better understanding of how to better position their reporting to deliver meaningfully insight on the issues that matter most to both the business and stakeholders

 

It is important to design the materiality assessment to provide your company with strategic insights to drive action. Corporate Citizenship believes the entire materiality journey, from stakeholder engagement to topic prioritization through to the recommended actions, should provide real value to businesses and society.

In our webinar Maximizing the Value of Materiality, we heed Voltaire’s age-old advice: ‘Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?’  In the webinar, Kimberly-Clark shares their materiality experience and key learnings on how companies can derive the greatest value from the materiality journey.

To learn how to maximize the value of your company’s materiality assessment, join Corporate Citizenship and Kimberly-Clark on August 24th 2016. Registration details and a copy of the webinar after the event can be found here: http://corporate-citizenship.com/event/webinar-maximizing-value-materiality/

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