Tuning in on Materialities That Matter

A short materiality scan for focus and direction
Tuning in on Materialities That Matter
Publ. date 12 Jun 2019
Spraying sustainability efforts large and thin puts organizations at the risk of not tackling relevant material issues. Successful sustainability strategies require focus and direction. Defining your focus relies on the identification of relevant material issues for your organization through a materiality analysis. The Materiality Map and its accompanying workshop provides new insights on the current and future importance of sustainability issues.

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In order to focus on materialities that matter, it is essential that organizations cancel out the noise around “trendy” global issues highlighted in the media and identify the areas that are fundamentally impacted by their business. Through an interactive group exercise, the Materiality Map workshop identifies the relevant material sustainability issues and helps organizations differentiate themselves from their peers. The outcomes will provide a great starting point for a meaningful materiality matrix.

Workshop instructions: Applying the Materiality Map

Time required: 2 hours

The Materiality Map is applied with a group of three to eight participants. As preparation, the competitors of the organization are to be identified and researched on their sustainability programs and their associated targets.

  1. To start the workshop, begin by identifying the scope of the organization considered.
  2. Next, do a plenary brainstorm to determine what stakeholders are relevant and solicit examples from the audience of sustainability initiatives within the scope of the organization or similar organizations that seemingly have a positive business impact.
  3. Share the prepared analysis of the main competitors and discuss the implications and list the most relevant sustainability issues.
  4. Plot the sustainability issues on the map considering the relative business impact and relative importance to stakeholders.
  5. Once completed, take the seven most important material issues and score the organizations’ performance, from hands-on experience, as well as from that of the main competitors and plot it on the competitor value map.
  6. Wrap up the workshop by concluding in a plenary format.

(Re)Defining your Focus?

The Materiality Map, as well as many other tools can be found in Winning Sustainability Strategies (Palgrave 2019, Leleux and Van der Kaaij). In the book you will find numerous award-winning cases from IMD Business school and examples from companies such as Unilever, Torres, Patagonia, Tumi, DSM and Umicore, alongside original ideas based upon more than 20 years of consulting experience with materiality assessments, among others.

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