Materiality and Stakeholder Dialogue
Within its four pillars of sustainability, REWE Group has identified areas of activity that cover all issues relevant to the company. These areas were honed further during the reporting period. The basis for this work was materiality analysis, a process that is called for in the new guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI G4). These guidelines link the external and internal perspective in order to focus on those issues where requirements and influence opportunities are particularly great.
REWE Group conducts a continuous dialogue with its stakeholders – in addition to direct conversations and consumer surveys, the annual dialogue forums serve as a key element of the sustainability strategy. In this role, they facilitate a targeted discussion with stakeholders about critical issues. This format has addressed a broad range of focal points since 2010. In 2013, REWE Group organised three dialogue forums on the issues of conversation of resources, the world of animals and plants, and social responsibility. The future of sustainable consumption was the topic in 2014 (see http://dialog.rewe-group.com/). REWE Group documents the results of these conferences and incorporates them into the continued refinement of its sustainability strategy. Another key aspect of the stakeholder dialogue is the Sustainability Weeks held each year. These events are primarily aimed at the customers of REWE Group. During these weeks, individual sales lines conduct activities designed to raise consumers' awareness levels about sustainability issues. The key stakeholder groups with which the company conducts a dialogue are suppliers, consumers, political leaders, government authorities, the academic community and non-government organisations as well as its own employees, managers and independent retailers.
Stakeholder Survey 2014
A representative cross-section of relevant stakeholder groups was surveyed at the end of 2014 in personal interviews about their needs, views and strategic recommendations for the purpose of modifying the materiality matrix. In addition, an online questionnaire was filled out by 115 participants.
The pacesetting role assumed by REWE Group has earned the industry's acclaim, and it is inspiring others to join in, the survey found. As a result, no one can ease up, it showed. Two recommendations expressed frequently were: to be bolder and to communicate in a more active, broad and emotional manner. The company's work with store brands was highly praised, but minimum standards for the entire product range were urged as well. In spite of the desired focus on Green Products and the more sustainable store brand product range, the other three pillars were viewed as relevant to the company's broad sustainability focus. The key aspect here was: not only show best practice, but also demonstrate how approaches can be introduced throughout the company. Activities in DIY stores, travel and tourism should be increased as well, the survey found. Issues that stakeholders think should receive more attention are: partnerships with suppliers, regionality, diet, animal welfare, packaging and the circular economy.
The survey results were used to develop a ranking of 25 top-priority issues and 13 less critical issues. The latter group included various employee issues, topics of social involvement, transparent marketing, certification and labels, waste management, more sustainable packaging and biodiversity. These issues were intensely discussed in REWE Group project groups. It was concluded that all issues are critical to the combine's continued involvement and to reporting. The only exception is biodiversity: It is not a top priority within the confines of the company's business operations. But the issue is important in the supply chain. As a result, it will be monitored in this context and reported on.
In March 2015, the PRO PLANET Board of Advisers, in which many NGOs are represented, reviewed and approved the findings. Afterwards, the materiality analysis was discussed and approved by REWE Group's Sustainability Strategy Committee chaired by Manfred Esser. A corresponding classification of the indicators to be reported on was done for REWE Group's Sustainability Report 2013/2014.