Defining Issues of High Concern for our Stakeholders
Resolute Forest Products reports sustainability performance on shared priority issues, initially based on a detailed analysis the company completed in 2010 as part of our first Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) disclosure, as well as the periodic updates to that assessment that have since been conducted.
In the past, Resolute has referred to these issues as “material” but going forward will use the term “shared priority issues” or “shared priorities” in order to avoid confusion with materiality in the context of financial and regulatory reporting. We will continue to apply the GRI’s definition and determination methodology for defining issues, identifying topics that reflect the company’s significant environmental, social and economic impacts, and that substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.
We monitor shared priorities on a continuous basis through regular interaction with stakeholders and periodic analysis. As a result, shared priority issues are regularly updated.
The shared priority issues identified through this process form the basis of the information Resolute reports publicly, giving stakeholders access to data on what matters to them most. Not all the significant sustainability issues addressed by the company are shared priorities. Issues that require legal or regulatory compliance, for example, but are not viewed as priorities for external stakeholders, are still monitored and reported on within the company but are not included in our sustainability reporting.
Our identification of shared priority issues is intended to improve the understanding of our stakeholders’ objectives and information needs. To this end, in preparation for our 2010 sustainability report, we conducted our first comprehensive shared priority issues assessment to identify the topics that mattered most for ongoing monitoring and reporting. Stakeholder issues and related expectations were identified and prioritized through a series of confidential, one-on-one, in-depth interviews with individuals representing the research community, industry, government, customers, (E)NGOs, organized labor and investors.
The interviews were conducted by a third party to facilitate unbiased discussions, and only aggregate, unattributed responses were shared with Resolute. Stakeholder interview results were combined with a detailed industry scan of sustainability issues and benchmarking of North American and international peer company reports. Using this research as a foundation, our sustainability report working group added its own insight to create a list of issues of shared importance to the company.
In 2012, 2013 and again in 2016, we undertook comprehensive refreshes of our shared priority issues. During each of these exercises, we reached out to key partners and stakeholders to assess whether our sustainability strategy, public commitments and reporting practices continued to reflect their most relevant interests and needs.
By working with an independent third party to survey external stakeholders and other interested parties at the community, regional and national levels, we have been able to gain insight into their priorities. The results of these surveys were then shared with our corporate sustainability committee, a cross-functional group of senior managers, to determine the business impact of these concerns and, ultimately, compile a list of shared priorities.
Overall, there have not been significant changes in stakeholder priorities since our last assessment in 2013. Additionally, we noted there is strong alignment between internal and external stakeholder assessments of our company priorities – an indicator that Resolute is in tune with the expectations of both stakeholder groups.
New issues with the potential to impact our business in the future were identified during this process and include local hiring and employment, investments to prevent safety and environmental incidents, and customer satisfaction. We will integrate disclosures on these topics into our GRI-compliant online sustainability reporting over the next two years. In addition, three issues were ranked higher than in past years and will be of greater focus for us going forward: environmentally responsible procurement, public policy and product regulatory compliance.
We are committed to effective management practices in sustainable development. An independent benchmarking of corporate sustainability practices that we commissioned in 2017 confirmed Resolute’s progression as an industry leader in sustainability. The benchmarking exercise – which included environmental, social and governance criteria – ranked the company strongly compared to industry peers.