Sonova ESG Report 2022/23

Materiality assessment

Material ESG topics

Sonovaʼs most recent materiality assessment and update of the Sonova materiality matrix was conducted in 2019/20. For this, we drew on a number of sources to compile a broad initial list of ESG topics that could be considered relevant to Sonovaʼs impact or could be influential for our stakeholdersʼ views and decisions. These sources included:

  • Global frameworks and standards, such as Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards; the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) industry standards; and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Existing and upcoming international, governmental, and industry regulations, standards, and agreements
  • Best-practice peer benchmarking and best-in-class-rated reporting practices
  • Investor, analyst, and proxy advisor reports and feedback
  • Public media reports
  • Customer and employee surveys
  • In-depth stakeholder interviews

We reviewed the results and consolidated the topics into a list of 21. We defined material topics using personal interviews and online surveys with key internal and external stakeholders, through which we ranked the list in terms of three dimensions:

  1. Relevance of the topic to the stakeholders: To determine the relevance of each topic, we first identified internal and external representatives of each stakeholder group. When selecting the representatives, we took into account a balanced representation of the different geographical regions and Sonova businesses. The selected stakeholders then ranked the 21 topics according to their personal perceptions of importance.
  2. Significance of Sonovaʼs impact on the topic: The significance of Sonovaʼs impact on each topic was assessed by external experts with relevant experience in the respective fields.
  3. Strategic relevance to Sonova: The strategic relevance of each topic was assessed in individual internal interviews, including the Group CEO, the Vice President Corporate Strategy, and the Senior Director Internal Audit & Risk.

Materiality assessment

The 2019/20 materiality assessment identified eight ESG topics with the highest relevance for Sonova, which are listed below. The stakeholder groups which assigned a comparatively high relevance to the specific topic are indicated in brackets.

  • Product quality, safety, and reliability (customers and consumers, regulators and governments, industry and competitors, investors, public)
  • Business ethics and legal compliance (regulators and governments, industry and competitors, investors)
  • Responsible supply chain (suppliers, industry and competitors, regulators, and governments)
  • Human rights and labor practices (regulators and governments, industry bodies and competitors, public)
  • Access to hearing care (customers and consumers, regulators and governments, employees)
  • Talent development (employees, industry and competitors, investors)
  • Diversity and inclusion (employees, regulators and governments, public)
  • Data privacy and digital ethics (customers and consumers, public, investors)

The result of the materiality assessment is visualized in the materiality matrix:

We used the insights of the materiality assessment to prompt further discussions with key internal and external stakeholders around risks and opportunities. We further clustered the 21 ESG topics identified in the materiality assessment into the four strategic areas of IntACT, our ESG strategy. Our ESG Report is organized according to these areas.

At the end of the 2022/23 financial year, we started to prepare to conduct a new materiality assessment. The updated assessment will be based on a “double materiality” concept, examining both financial and impact materiality.

Sonovaʼs ESG strategy is relevant to the entire Sonova Group, including the upstream and downstream value chains of our four businesses. Sonova assigns the impact of each material ESG topic to its appropriate stage or stages in the value-creation process, from raw materials supply to after-sales refurbishing or recycling. Impacts occurring outside the organization relate either to upstream activities (under topic headings including: responsible supply chain; human rights and labor practices; energy and climate) or to downstream activities, such as the utilization of our products and services (topic headings including: access to hearing care; product quality, safety and reliability; data privacy and digital ethics; ethical marketing and sales practices; eco-friendly products).