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 the 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 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, this dialogue with partner organisations 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 target. Swisscom placed specific review requests with both partner organisations in order to rectify any shortcomings. Thanks to the transparent approach – all assumptions and calculations were disclosed 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 2015, Swisscom and an international market research institute conducted a survey of the Swiss public on current sustainability topics in the information and communications industry. The representative survey (991 people, 28% response rate) asked participants to rate predefined measures in terms of the following four criteria: importance, how well they are suited to Swisscom, credibility and their effects on social and environmental sustainability. The findings of this survey prompted a re-prioritisation of certain areas in the materiality matrix. The areas of “fair supply chain” and “attractive employer”, for instance, are now classed as very relevant for Swisscom and for the stakeholder groups, while “health-related offers” is now considered relevant for the stakeholder groups and as very relevant for Swisscom. Moreover, due to a lack of space, similar areas have been merged into new topic clusters. In addition to the survey, Swisscom also discussed predefined topics including mobile telecommunications, products, services and prices with specific stakeholder groups (municipalities, trade unions or customers).

Swisscom materiality matrix 2015