Materiality: Reassessing our CR strategy through a COVID-19 lens
Our approach to Materiality
We typically conduct a materiality assessment every two years to ensure we remain tuned into the ESG issues that are important to our stakeholders and our business, and that our CR and business strategy meets current needs and expectations. We conducted our 2018 assessment in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). The results shaped our updated CR Framework as well as a five-year CR Plan with targets and goals agreed upon with Millicom leaders from various business functions. Our assessment results also helped us achieve greater alignment and ownership across business functions.
In accordance with our biannual cadence, we had planned to conduct a materiality assessment in 2020. However, we had to adapt our tactics due to the significant disruption that COVID-19 brought to our business, customers and employees. We sought to learn from this unprecedented experience and to understand whether or how we should adjust our CR framework, targets or disclosures.
2020 Materiality Assessment: Methodology
While we replicated the methodological approach from the 2018 assessment, we also tailored our 2020 assessment to the specific issues, challenges and opportunities posed by COVID-19. Accordingly, we focused on:
- If and how COVID-19 challenges and priorities influenced business and stakeholder priorities or our CR Framework and Plan
- Which issues need to be raised or lowered in priority
- Whether there are any new and relevant issues
- What capabilities we need to create or improve
We supplemented the list of relevant CR issues from 2018 with comprehensive desktop research that included the latest publications from investors, industry, NGOs and multilateral organizations.
As in past exercises, we interviewed more than 40 leaders across our business lines and operations. We also reached out to four key stakeholder groups in the following manner:
|Group||Type of engagement|
Through our assessment, we gained insights on how certain stakeholder group expectations had shifted, which led us to update our 2018 matrix. The first graphic below summarizes expectations according to stakeholder group. The second graphic presents our updated materiality matrix, which is color-coded to show how material topics shifted in relation to the previous assessment.
We found that our strategic CR Framework provided a sound compass for navigating the disruption in 2020. The framework remains very relevant, albeit with some shifts in our tactics and approach. While all our current focus areas remain of interest to our stakeholders, some topics—such as employee and contractor health and wellness and global climate change—increased in importance. In addition, our business purpose took on significantly more relevance.
Guided by our business purpose, employees doubled down in 2020 to ensure that our network and digital tools helped keep businesses running; gave people access to healthcare, education and government services; and allowed them to produce incomes while safely working from home. We also noted a "Shift in Collaboration Model"—born out of how COVID-19 accelerated the changes in our ways of working—that proved invaluable as we navigated the uncertainty.
We also learned through our assessment that Millicom has an opportunity to more clearly link its CR goals with the company’s business objectives and to better communicate that alignment to our stakeholder groups. We used the information garnered during this valuable exercise to conduct company-wide discussions on the opportunities ahead in the "new normal" and how we can integrate this information into our management approach.