Approach to materiality
In 2013, we began a three-phase project to benchmark our current position, determine material issues, and develop a unified approach internally:
- Research - We interviewed 40 key stakeholders, including development experts, researchers, and business leaders. We assessed sustainability performance, reviewed existing research, and developed an initial mapping of our material issues. We also utilised key data from our Life Cycle Assessment process, our historical sustainability performance, customer research and interactions, and stakeholder input over the past three years to validate aspects identified.
- Value Chain Impacts - For the first time we also focused on assessing our environmental impacts further to ensure that we are focusing in the right areas, regardless of our influence. We developed a Life Cycle Assessment model to determine our water and carbon footprints from the fields to the end of use of our products. We also assessed our social impacts across our value chain through our SSC programs and in our human rights gap assessment.
- Exploration - We then evaluated the success of existing C&A sustainability programmes, reviewed major industry initiatives and explored how the industry might look in 15 years, with a goal of determining where and how C&A could make a difference. Key initiatives like the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provided additional context for consolidating and focusing the material issues for greater global impact. From this, we prioritised the aspects where C&A has a key role in creating positive change and also where these issues are priorities for our stakeholders.
- Strategy - We developed an integrated strategy incorporating our material issues with three pillars for action: Sustainable Products, Sustainable Supply, and Sustainable Lives.
Moving beyond materiality matrices, in this report we strive to address all of the material issues identified and report with both narratives and KPIs whenever possible. Most of the material issues have been incorporated into our new sustainability framework, and others like quality, product safety and responsible marketing will remain part of our ongoing business approach.