Defining report content and topic Boundaries
In the 2019 reporting year, we updated our materiality analysis as part of an extensive online survey in combination with a qualitative survey of our stakeholders based on interviews of experts, ranging from investors and customers to NGOs, scientists and politicians and from our employees to our Executive Board.
Where appropriate, we’ve revised the names and focus of material topics. For example, what used to be the “compliance” topic is now “good corporate governance and compliance.” Once measured separately, the topics “sustainable forestry,” “sustainable agriculture and aquaculture” and “biodiversity” have been combined to create “protection of biodiversity” due to overlapping areas of focus. “Excellence in the supply chain” has been integrated into related topics. The climate protection activities of Symrise are now explicitly addressed with the topic of “climate protection and emission reduction,” which extends beyond the mere reduction of emissions.
The various surveys were conducted between June and August 2019 and have provided us with knowledge about the expectations of our stakeholders, the relevance of sustainability topics for business and the impact that the business activities of Symrise have on people, the environment and society. More than 1,500 fully completed online surveys and just under 30 qualitative expert interviews were evaluated.
The three central topics of focus identified among all of the stakeholders were “responsible sourcing,” “climate protection and emission reduction” and “responsible use of raw materials.” During the qualitative interviews, external experts also emphasized dependence on natural raw materials in the “race for resources” and the importance of a company’s climate protection activities.
The highest-ranked topic from the previous year, “compliance with human rights,” continues to be extremely important. But this year it shares the spotlight with other prominently ranked topics associated with the key sustainability issues of “innovation” and “ecological footprint” as well as the overarching strategic, company-wide topics “good corporate governance” and “sustainable partnerships.” “Collaboration” and “transparency” were generally considered to be key drivers for sustainability from both an external and internal perspective.
The results were then discussed and validated by the Sustainability Board. See the summary table in the Symrise Annual Report 2019 for an overview of all the material topics, their definitions, goals, goal attainment, and management methods.