Materiality test

Each year, Alliander determines in a structured manner the topics to be included as a minimum in the annual report. A materiality test is used for this purpose.

The assessment of the material themes forms the basis for determining the content of the integrated annual report and takes place at an early stage of the reporting process. This assessment is twofold, with an external focus on the relevance of the themes from the diverse perspectives of these stakeholder groups and an internal focus on the impact of these themes on the company.

The relevance from the stakeholder perspective was determined by means of a digital questionnaire that was presented to a representative cross-section of each stakeholder group. The nature and scale of the impact of each of the selected themes for Alliander and its stakeholders was then gauged. The materiality score from the previous reporting year was taken on board in the weighting. The outcomes from both the roundtable sessions with stakeholders and the stakeholder survey were discussed with the Management Board. It was concluded, among other things, that the topics stakeholders had identified as important largely corresponded with the key themes that Alliander is pursuing. One emerging trend is the growing significance of the energy transition. Alliander is currently working on various existing and new initiatives as part of this theme. These initiatives are also covered in this annual report. The fifteen most relevant themes served as the guideline in the process of determining the content of the annual report and are extensively dealt with in the stakeholder chapters.

The process in 5 steps

Step 1: Identification of relevant aspects and themes

The first step consisted of drawing up a list of socially significant themes that are relevant to the organisation. The guideline here was the list of aspects as contained in the GRI G-4 guidelines and the Electric Utilities Sector Supplement. The list is updated annually and, in addition to the GRI aspects, comprises material themes from the previous year, topics put forward by stakeholders and topics for which we have set internal performance indicators.

Stakeholder relevance

Based on a digital survey, the stakeholders assessed the socially significant themes on relevance. This stakeholder input led to the selection of the fifteen most relevant themes.

The results of the survey were classified according to stakeholder group. The stakeholder groups closest to the organisation (customers, employees and shareholders) were given a weighting of 2, while the other stakeholder groups (suppliers, knowledge institutions, public authorities and investors) were given a weighting of 1. The results of this digital survey were given added substance and colour during stakeholder dialogues with a group of stakeholder representatives. The result was an overview in which the most relevant themes from the stakeholder perspective are prioritised.

Impact for Alliander

Next, we determined the indicative impact of the fifteen most relevant themes on the organisation. The extent of the impact was assessed internally and then broadly validated within the organisation by relevant experts. The impact model as applied within this method consists of three aspects:

  • Negative impact: how great is the impact on Alliander if the organisation does not perform well on the theme;
  • Positive impact: how great is the impact on Alliander if the organisation performs well on the theme;
  • Probability: what is the probability of these positive or negative impacts occurring, and within what time horizon.

The impact analysis provides insight into the opportunities and risks for the organisation as well as the priority that should be given to addressing the topic.

Step 2: Weighting and comparison with 2014

For the materiality test, Alliander applies a weighted average over several years. Apart from being more reliable and less sensitive to hypes and measurement errors, this approach also serves to highlight trends in the materiality of the themes.

Step 3: GRI aspects with relevance for Alliander

High-materiality themes have been matched with the corresponding effects in the GRI guidelines. This overview is the yardstick for the composition of the accountability information in this annual report.

Step 4: Materiality matrix

The combination of the relevance for stakeholders on the Y-axis and the impact of the themes on the organisation on the X-axis shows the theme's impact on the level of the organisation's social performance and thus the priority it has within the annual report. The materiality matrix provides a cross-section of the most material topics for Alliander's annual report.

Alliander subdivides the results of the materiality analysis into three categories.

Key themes

These are the 15 themes in the materiality matrix that are distinctive in the perception of a large group of stakeholders and for our performance. These themes are addressed at length in the annual report.

Corporate themes

These are themes that, viewed across a broad group of stakeholders, receive less priority. This concerns themes that are relevant to certain stakeholders for operational reasons or must be reported on for compliance purposes. They are dealt with to a limited extent in the annual report and explained further in the GRI Index if necessary.

Potential themes

These are themes to which most stakeholders currently assign less priority and that have a lower impact on the organisation. However, these themes may in future be given more weight and are being monitored and, where necessary, maintained by Alliander. For statutory reasons, some of these themes form part of the annual report or the explanation in the GRI Index.

Step 5: Implementation

The materiality of topics as determined by the Management Board provides the basis for the design, content and management of the annual reporting process. It is decided how the topics are worked out and how these are incorporated in the information-gathering process. Business units prepare the reporting process in cooperation with the responsible departments and set out the data validation and verification arrangements.

Further information on the reporting process can be found in 'About this report' and the GRI Index Table.