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Understanding the Pillars of Sustainability: Stakeholders and Materiality

Stakeholders and Materiality, the cornerstones of sustainability

In the world of sustainability, two fundamental concepts take centre stage: “Stakeholders” and “Materiality”. These pillars are key for organisations to address social and environmental challenges in a responsible and strategic way. In this article, we will guide you through these concepts in a simple way, helping you to understand their importance and how to apply them to build a sustainable future.

Stakeholders: Beyond Shareholders

In the past, it was believed that the sole purpose of companies was to generate profits for shareholders, the famous “Shareholders”. However, the concept of “Stakeholders” has emerged to challenge this view. Who are these stakeholders? They are those stakeholders who affect the organisation and, in turn, are affected by it.

It is important to recognise that generating value for shareholders does not always imply a positive benefit for the rest of society. There are other groups, such as suppliers, employees, customers, investors, the local community and even the media, who also have a role to play in an organisation’s environment.

To achieve positive impact and generate shared value, it is essential to consider the concerns and needs of these groups. It is not enough to focus solely on shareholders; we must take a holistic view that encompasses all stakeholders in our operations.

Materiality: Strategic Approach to Sustainability

The concept of sustainability covers a wide range of issues, from ethics and corruption to CO2 emissions, water consumption, plastic pollution, gender equity and many others. However, not all issues will have the same impact on every organisation.

This is where the concept of “Materiality” comes into play, a valuable tool to prioritise and focus our efforts on the issues that really matter. Each company must conduct a rigorous assessment to identify the key issues that affect its stakeholders and that are also related to its operations and activities.

For example, for a consultancy, plastic pollution may be of little relevance compared to a pharmaceutical company, which will be more affected by the use of packaging. Identifying materiality allows us to establish a strategic focus and align our resources to address the issues that really matter in our context.

Moving towards a Sustainable Organisation

Understanding the concepts of “Stakeholders” and “Materiality” is essential to drive an organisation towards sustainability. Incorporating stakeholder concerns and needs, as well as strategic focus on key issues, will enable us to build a responsible company that is conscious of its impact on society and the environment.

It is important to mention that sustainability is a constantly evolving journey. Keeping informed about the advances in our sector, observing the good practices of our competitors and being in tune with think tanks and experts in the sustainable field will allow us to be at the forefront and adapt to the changes that arise along the way.

In the following video, our colleague Pedro Olazabal explains the keys to understanding both concepts and starting to apply them in organisations.

In conclusion, the path to a sustainable organisation begins with understanding the pillars of “Stakeholder” and “Materiality”. By embracing these ideas and applying them in our decision making, we will be taking firm steps towards a more responsible future and making a positive impact on the world.

It is time to be agents of change and build a sustainable society and environment for present and future generations.

Stakeholders and Materiality, the cornerstones of sustainability

In the world of sustainability, two fundamental concepts take centre stage: “Stakeholders” and “Materiality”. These pillars are key for organisations to address social and environmental challenges in a responsible and strategic way. In this article, we will guide you through these concepts in a simple way, helping you to understand their importance and how to apply them to build a sustainable future.

Stakeholders: Beyond Shareholders

In the past, it was believed that the sole purpose of companies was to generate profits for shareholders, the famous “Shareholders”. However, the concept of “Stakeholders” has emerged to challenge this view. Who are these stakeholders? They are those stakeholders who affect the organisation and, in turn, are affected by it.

It is important to recognise that generating value for shareholders does not always imply a positive benefit for the rest of society. There are other groups, such as suppliers, employees, customers, investors, the local community and even the media, who also have a role to play in an organisation’s environment.

To achieve positive impact and generate shared value, it is essential to consider the concerns and needs of these groups. It is not enough to focus solely on shareholders; we must take a holistic view that encompasses all stakeholders in our operations.

Materiality: Strategic Approach to Sustainability

The concept of sustainability covers a wide range of issues, from ethics and corruption to CO2 emissions, water consumption, plastic pollution, gender equity and many others. However, not all issues will have the same impact on every organisation.

This is where the concept of “Materiality” comes into play, a valuable tool to prioritise and focus our efforts on the issues that really matter. Each company must conduct a rigorous assessment to identify the key issues that affect its stakeholders and that are also related to its operations and activities.

For example, for a consultancy, plastic pollution may be of little relevance compared to a pharmaceutical company, which will be more affected by the use of packaging. Identifying materiality allows us to establish a strategic focus and align our resources to address the issues that really matter in our context.

Moving towards a Sustainable Organisation

Understanding the concepts of “Stakeholders” and “Materiality” is essential to drive an organisation towards sustainability. Incorporating stakeholder concerns and needs, as well as strategic focus on key issues, will enable us to build a responsible company that is conscious of its impact on society and the environment.

It is important to mention that sustainability is a constantly evolving journey. Keeping informed about the advances in our sector, observing the good practices of our competitors and being in tune with think tanks and experts in the sustainable field will allow us to be at the forefront and adapt to the changes that arise along the way.

In the following video, our colleague Pedro Olazabal explains the keys to understanding both concepts and starting to apply them in organisations.

In conclusion, the path to a sustainable organisation begins with understanding the pillars of “Stakeholder” and “Materiality”. By embracing these ideas and applying them in our decision making, we will be taking firm steps towards a more responsible future and making a positive impact on the world.

It is time to be agents of change and build a sustainable society and environment for present and future generations.