Material issues

Criteria of materiality

In order to assess the materiality of each sustainability issue, Swisscom has defined and applied the following qualitative criteria for the report in the year under review:

  • Importance of topics addressed by Swisscom’s mission statement
  • Significance and relevance of topics for stakeholder groups
  • Effects on the company’s financial position, results of operations and reputation

First classification of sustainability topics in the materiality matrix

The sustainability topics can be classified in a matrix based on their relevance to Swisscom’s business strategy and the concerns of stakeholder groups. They are examined and dealt with internally according to level of importance and scope by those bodies that act as contact partners for the respective stakeholders. The issues are also discussed by other bodies such as division management or the Group Executive Board. If necessary, these bodies initiate the appropriate measures. The matrix topics and their classification were validated by representative shareholder groups in a survey conducted in October 2013. In the survey, government authorities, partners and NGOs such as WWF and myclimate commented on ecological aspects, while the Swiss Association for Audiovisual Learning (SSAB) and the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO), which are jointly responsible for the National Programme for the Promotion of Media Skills, commented on social aspects. The survey concluded that Swisscom should increase its efforts in promoting products and services aimed at reducing customers’ CO2 emissions. Customers, after all, could make a substantial contribution towards combating climate change. These findings are also confirmed by the most recent study of the International Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI smarter 2020) as well as Swisscom’s evaluation. The reduction of customers’ CO2 emissions thus ranks as very relevant in the matrix.

Issues highlighted by the FSIO and SSAB surveys, such as the shortage of specialist staff and generation management, have also been incorporated in Swisscom’s materiality matrix under diversity and personnel training and development. There is consensus as regards the rating accorded to the other issues.

Based on the findings, Swisscom has developed a CR strategy that will apply until 2020. In connection with this, the collaboration of different divisions within Swisscom resulted in two business activities being identified as material: healthcare and corresponding health-related offers, and offers for flexible working models and the promotion of a mobile working culture.

In a symbolic move towards increased stakeholder involvement, Swisscom reviewed its strategic “2:1 target” in collaboration with its long-term partner organisations WWF and myclimate. As part of the “2:1 target”, Swisscom aims to work together with its customers to save twice as much CO2 as it emits throughout the entire company including the supply chain by 2020. Specifically, dialogue with WWF and myclimate helped set both the target amount and find a plausible calculation method. Swisscom incorporated many suggestions throughout the process which helped improve the calculation method and communication of the climate protection target. Swisscom placed specific review requests with both partner organisations in order to rectify any shortcomings. Thanks to the transparent approach – Swisscom disclosed all assumptions and calculations to partners – the “2:1 target” was successfully defined in more precise terms. This does not, however, bring Swisscom’s dialogue with its partners to an end. Swisscom wants to continue to consult myclimate and WWF for its annual interim reports in order to obtain a neutral opinion. The issues are arranged alphabetically within the boxes of the materiality matrix.

New classification levels

In 2016, Swisscom conducted surveys of eleven key stakeholders in total, which it selected according to the relevant topics and under consideration of the sustainability strategy. The stakeholders surveyed were active in the core Swiss market and their interests had not yet been systematically recorded. The surveys enabled Swisscom to gain valuable insights. The majority of the stakeholders surveyed, for instance, confirmed that Swisscom had made good progress with its sustainability strategy, as well as offering further suggestions.

Taken as a whole, the survey feedback demonstrates that the constant growth of digitisation brings with it both risks and opportunities for the environment and society. Among others, the following questions arise in particular: How should society respond to the removal of boundaries between work and leisure and the resulting health consequences for employees? What specific measures can be taken to enhance the positive environmental and social impact of digitisation? What support can be offered to Swisscom employees, as well as Swisscom customers and their staff, to keep pace with digitisation?

Given their direct relationship to its core business, Swisscom considers these and other questions to be strategically relevant and plans to address and examine the questions raised, particularly the impacts of digitisation on the world of work, in three working groups in 2017.

The survey results have also been forwarded to division management and the Group Executive Board, and are commented on to some extent in the 2016 Annual Report where relevant.

Swisscom materiality matrix 2016