BOSTON: Cone Communications has unveiled Materiality360, a CSR product that will serve as a one-stop solution for companies looking to identify and analyze top material issues.
The firm designed Materiality360 to meet the requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative's G4 guidelines, which were released in May. It is focused on issue identification; boundary setting along a company's value chain; stakeholder identification and engagement; and issue prioritization and recommendations.
“The [Initiative] has always had materiality as a prerequisite for reporting, but it didn't hammer it home before it came out with the G4 guidelines, which are all about materiality,” said Liz Gorman, SVP of Cone's sustainable business practices group. “Once we were up to speed on what the GRI required, we took our process and amplified it to have a turnkey solution for companies to be in compliance with the G4.”
She added that “this includes the identification of what the material issues are through external and internal research, gathering insights, benchmarking the industry, and looking at issues relevant to a specific company.”
Materiality includes topics that have a direct or indirect impact on an organization's ability to create, preserve, or erode economic, environmental, and social value for itself, stakeholders and society at large, according to the G4 guidelines. The Initiative's definition is that materiality is an aspect that reflects an organization's significant economic, environmental, and social impacts, or one that substantially influences the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.
Previously, Cone's materiality assessment encompassed the identification and prioritization of material issues. Stakeholder engagement and the value chain assessment piece are the newest additions to the product, according to Gorman.
“This product is not only going to be something that appeals to companies venturing into the G4 reporting world, but also companies looking to establish a CSR program or evolve their current strategy,” she said.
Ranging from $40,000 to $60,000, Materiality360 is a six-to-eight-week process that involves extensive external research, internal interviews, and review of company documents.