SFS adjusted its sustainability reporting in line with the new requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI-Standards 2021) during the past year. In this context, the material topics selected were reviewed and dialog was sought out with stakeholders to discuss and evaluate the company’s impact on the environment,society and economy with respect to these topics (inside-out) and how these topics impact SFS (outside-in). This dialog occurred within the scope of a preliminary online survey as well as two workshops and was both moderated and evaluated by an independent organization named “engageability”. The participants included employees, financial analysts, representatives of educational facilities and local authorities, members of the Group Executive Board and Board of Directors as well as customers and suppliers of the Distribution & Logistics segment. SFS conducts a stakeholder dialog every 2–3 years, with each of these involving the customer sand suppliers of one of the three segments. Customers and suppliers of the Fastening Systems segment were surveyed for the most recent materiality analysis.
Sustainability is part of our DNA
Material topics and their interdependence on SDGs and ESG dimensions
Based on the list of topics derived from the preliminary online survey, stakeholders at the workshop discussed which of those topics are most significant in terms of both SFS’s impact on the environment, society and the economy as well as their significance to SFS. This resulted in the following list of material topics,arranged in order of decreasing significance:
1. Energy consumption
3. Training and continuing education
4. Sustainable solutions
5. Employee satisfaction and engagement
6. Occupational health and safety
7. Sustainability checks for suppliers
8. Material efficiency and waste
9. Resource and material procurement
During the discussions that followed, these topics were then grouped into focus topics and assigned to corresponding GRI-Standards; not all of those GRI-Standards were also classified as material, however.
Materiality analysis 2022 and list of material topics
While “Emissions” has already been classified as material in the past, the topic of “Energy” now appears on SFS’s list of material topics for the first time. In light of the fact that electricity consumption accounts for around 70% of emissions in Scope 1 and Scope 2 as well as the fact that SFS, as a manufacturing company, has high energy requirements, it is understandable that the stakeholders attach top priority to this topic. The stakeholders believe that SFS has the greatest environmental impact in these two topics, which together form the focus topic “Energy and emissions”. Conversely, energy costs and the availability of energy have a huge impact on SFS’s business activities. Continuously increasing our energy efficiency, using energy with the lowest level of emissions possible and increasing the share of self-produced renewable energy are therefore also in our own interest.
Only well-trained, highly motivated and satisfied employees will achieve the best results in their role as value creators and create value added. Through its active promotion of the dual education system of vocational education and training, SFS not only invests in talent development but social and economic development as well. The stakeholders once again classified the topic of “Training and Education” as the most important in the social sphere and combined it with the topic of “Diversity and equal opportunity” to create the focus topic “Employee promotion and engagement”. The GRI-Standard “Employment” also falls under this topic but were not classified as material.
Customers attending the stakeholder workshops also gave a high rating to the topic of “Sustainable solutions” and its impact on people and the environment. The main focus here was on the materials used and the products’ recyclability. The topic of “Materials” was identified as a new material topic as a result; while the GRI-Standard “Waste” also falls under this focus topic, it was not classified as material.
The focus topic “Procurement” gained traction for several reasons: Not only is systematic sustainability management essential throughout the entire supply chain as a result of increasing regulatory requirements, it is also pivotal to identifying and reducing Scope 3 emissions, which account for the largest share of emissions.The decisions SFS makes with respect to procurement have big impacts from both a social and environmental perspective. Conversely, suppliers and their activities also have an impact on SFS’s environmental footprint and ethical integrity. This topic, entitled “Sustainability checks for suppliers”, was classified at the workshops as one of the most important as a result. This includes the two GRI-Standards entitled “Supplier Environmental Assessment” and “Supplier Social Assessment” on which SFS is reporting for the first time in the corresponding parts of the report. The standard “Procurement Practices” also falls under the topic but was not classified as material.
The focus topic “Occupational health and safety” consists of a GRI-Standard that was no longer classified as a material topic in the discussion. Instead, SFS decided to classify this topic, like the topics “Human rights” and “Socioeconomic compliance”, as standard topics. Standard topics define the framework for every business activity engaged in by SFS and are therefore considered to be basic content that is reported on an ongoing basis, however not to the same extent as material GRI-Standards.
Going forward, SFS will focus on the first four focus topics in order to leverage long-term targets and corresponding initiatives as away of ensuring continuous progress with respect to its sustainable development efforts. For this, the individual topics will be examined as a whole and their positive or negative impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the ESG dimension of each (environment, social, governance) will be taken into consideration.
Responsibilities clearly defined
Sustainability is an integral part of the company’s business activities and SFS’s focus on sustainability is clearly defined at every level – from the Group Executive Board to the individual divisions, sites and teams – by the Board of Directors, as the highest governance body. The Board of Directors regularly reviews the sustainability strategy and its holistic integration into all corporate activities. The Sustainability Report is monitored by the Audit Committee. The CEO, together with the full Group Executive Board, regularly examines the current sustainability topics, sets priorities and monitors progress in the respective categories. On behalf of the Group Executive Board, the newly created Steering Team (composed of representatives from the Environment and Safety, Compliance, Controlling, HR and Communications departments) coordinates the implementation of the strategy and priorities. The Steering Team monitors the progress made towards meeting targets and ensures compliance with new statutory requirements. Due to the different characteristics of the segments and individual divisions and in the interest of achieving the highest possible level of effectiveness, the divisions are responsible for structuring the measures and initiatives. Regular communication regarding these measures and initiatives takes place in their respective peer groups. The EHS Peer Group (Environment Health and Safety) implements measures relating to the environment as well as occupational health and safety and is simultaneously responsible for collecting data at all the relevant sites. The CSR Peer Group (Corporate Social Responsibility) implements measures in the social sphere, calls attention to CSR initiatives and develops new initiatives. Wherever possible, the topic of sustainability is integrated into regular management processes and reports using standardized metrics. The CEO, in consultation with the Board of Directors, approves the Sustainability Report prepared by the Reporting Team.