What is it about?

The international guidelines for the preparation of non-financial reports underline the importance of stakeholder engagement, but many companies still do not involve different groups of people interested at various levels in the company's business. Does their involvement really have an effect on the report and in particular on the quality of the materiality analysis? Do the industry and the application of GRI standards also play a role in this respect? We have tried to answer these questions by manually analyzing all the integrated and sustainability reports for the year 2017 published by Italian companies.

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Why is it important?

The results of the analysis showed that stakeholder involvement plays a key role in determining the quality and level of application of the materiality analysis, with implications and consequences for the quality of the final report. The results of the statistical analysis also show how the GRI Standards and the industry sector to which they belong, concepts and aspects strongly linked to the concept of stakeholders and stakeholder engagement, are decisive in this report. The importance of stakeholder engagement and the adoption of international guidelines is often discussed, but often without evidence. This work shows how the involvement of different stakeholder groups can make a real difference in the quality of the process of preparing a non-financial report, as well as in its important content.


I hope that this article will help academics but above all national and international standards setters and companies to understand the fundamental role of the true and effective involvement of all stakeholders. Their involvement is necessary to implement processes correctly, deal with specific issues and produce a useful, comprehensive report that can give answers and useful information.

Riccardo Torelli
University of Parma

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The materiality assessment and stakeholder engagement: A content analysis of sustainability reports, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, July 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/csr.1813.
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