Peter Truesdale, OBE


As we saw from my last blog Materiality and Cheap Beer, most companies’ reporting of materiality is process-lite.

Indeed a cookery book authored by most sustainability departments would consist solely of lists of ingredients.  It would be all what and no how.

My survey of FTSE100 companies gives hope that The Times They Are A Changin’.

What’s changing?  Five things.

Good companies increasingly,:

  • describe the internal factors they take into account, e.g. “Identify topics of significance to Shell’s business strategy through our established internal processes”;
  • list the external inputs they consider. BP cites external reporting trends, audience research, industry benchmarking and peer review, and international media review;
  • clarify who decides the relative importance of the issues. Anglo American uses: “…a panel of independent experts from across key regions and sustainability fields, and selected Anglo American personnel”;
  • explain what changed as a result of the process. Anglo American again: “The discussion contributed to ‘social and political stability’ being included as a material issue”;
  • attribute ownership of the finalised position on materiality. For Antofagasta it is the product of: “…workshops with the management teams of each of the three operations”.  In Friends Life responsibility falls to the CR Strategy Committee and Leadership Team.  For BP sign-off is required from senior leaders.

Hardly revolutionary.

Indisputably a change.

Unarguably an improvement.

So fifty-one years on from Bob’s album release, for materiality the times they are a changin’.

My final blog on the matter will address the question: “Whose materiality is it anyway?”

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