Focus on materiality
In 2015, a comprehensive materiality analysis was performed with the support of internal and external stakeholders to make the key strategic themes relating to business opportunities and risks for HUGO BOSS more tangible and to transfer them increasingly to the defined fields of action. The materiality analysis comprised the following individual steps:
- an internal review of the current situation
- consolidation of the sustainability issues of relevance to HUGO BOSS
- an online survey of internal and external stakeholders
- interviews with individual stakeholders across all fields of action
- an internal workshop in the second half of 2015
All relevant Company departments took part in the internal review of the existing situation, during which numerous sustainability issues potentially impacting business success at HUGO BOSS were identified. It was assumed that addressing these themes may mean financial added value and/or be of material importance for the Company’s stakeholders.
In the following step, these issues were reconciled with the requirements of relevant sustainability standards, including the GRI G4 reporting standard, the ISO 26000 management guideline and the valuation criteria defined by rating agencies for assessing ethical/sustainable investments. This was supplemented with benchmark analyses of selected peers as well as a media analysis. This process identified 40 sustainability issues of relevance for HUGO BOSS along the entire value chain, which were assigned to the three dimensions of governance, environment and society.
Comprising both quantitative and qualitative elements, the survey was targeted at the Company’s internal and external stakeholders. The online survey was used to prioritize the 40 sustainability issues and to assess the Company’s performance. More than 1,200 people took part, a participation rate of 53%. In the innovative survey format, participants were presented with pairs of issues and asked to state which one they considered more important, thus making it possible to reduce the fairly broad range of issues to a manageable core of high-priority and important ones.
On the basis of the survey, nine interviews were additionally held in person with stakeholders from all fields of action, including representatives of selected non-government organizations, SRI investors and the Works Council. The purpose of these individual conversations was to gain a deeper insight into the priority of the individual issues.
The potential impact on HUGO BOSS of the issues considered by the stakeholders to have high priority or medium-term importance over the next three to five years was evaluated in an internal workshop with representatives from all relevant departments in October 2015 and their relevance for the Group’s business was assessed. This evaluation was based on the contribution and impact of the sustainability themes in terms of
- innovation and growth,
- brand value,
- resilience and
- operating efficiency.
On the basis of the results of the stakeholder survey and interviews as well as the internal analysis of business relevance, the 40 issues were plotted on a materiality matrix and assigned a strategic importance of high, medium or low. Issues classified as having “low strategic intensity” are viewed as “hygiene factors”, which the stakeholders and the Group consider to be fundamental and therefore have to be implemented. These issues are a matter of complying with legal requirements and social standards. On the other hand, issues with a “medium strategic intensity” go beyond the scope of legal requirements and social standards. Issues considered to have a “high strategic intensity” are of particular strategic relevance for the Group’s success in the opinion of all concerned. The results were presented to and approved by the Sustainability Committee with the participation of members of the Group’s Managing Board.
For the purposes of the HUGO BOSS Sustainability Report from fiscal year 2015 onwards, these issues were condensed to form 14 superordinate themes and were validated once again by the Sustainability Committee. The main purpose of this consolidation is to adapt the main issues to internal management methods so that they can be integrated more effectively in corporate processes.