Materiality test

Each year, Alliander takes a structured approach to deciding what topics should be covered by the annual report as a minimum. To do this we use a materiality test. Assessment of the material themes forms the basis for the contents of the integrated annual report and takes place at an early stage in the reporting process. The materiality test depends on a dual assessment: on the one hand, various stakeholder groups assess the relevance of different themes and we, on the other hand, make an internal assessment of what the impact of these themes is on the business and on the wider world.

In 2018, the new materiality analysis was performed at an early stage in the reporting process. The materiality test depends on a dual assessment: on the one hand, various stakeholder groups assess the relevance of different themes and we, on the other hand, make an internal assessment of what the impact of these themes is on the business.

The relevance from the stakeholders’ point of view is determined by means of a digital questionnaire that is put before a representative group of stakeholder representatives. It is then determined what the magnitude of the impact of these themes is for Alliander and for society in general. The materiality score from the preceding year is taken into account in this assessment. The results of both the roundtable discussions with stakeholders and the poll of stakeholders are discussed with the Management Board. One of the conclusions to come out of this is that the topics that stakeholders find important are largely the same as the more important themes that Alliander is concerned about.

The process in five steps

For the 2018 annual report we have entirely reappraised our list the material themes using the following process.

Step 1: identification of relevant aspects and themes

The first step consisted in drawing up a list of social themes of relevance to the organisation, guided by a list of aspects such as included in the GRI Standards and the Electric Utilities Sector Supplement. This list is updated annually and, in addition to the GRI aspects, contains material themes from the preceding year, topics suggested by stakeholders and topics that are the concern of internal management. This year we revised the list of topics compared with 2017, reducing the number of material topics from 48 to 31, with the definitions, and therefore the scope of the topics, determined on the basis of an internal dialogue.

Impact on stakeholders

In 2018, the social themes were rated for relevance on the basis of a digital poll conducted among the stakeholders. The results of the online poll were grouped according to stakeholder group. The result is a summary prioritising the themes having the more significant impacts from the point of view of the stakeholders.

The results of the dialogues with stakeholders and the materiality test were then discussed with the Management Board. The conclusion was that the topics considered important by stakeholders are largely the same as the more important themes of concern to Alliander. There has been a change in the topics heading the list compared with the 2017 annual report, with various topics changing position. Amongst other things, the subdivision of the Energy Transition theme has yielded a more varied and precise picture.

Impact on Alliander

An assessment was made of all the social themes to determine the indicative impact they have on the organisation and on society at large. The internal prioritisation took place in a session led by outside professionals and attended by employees who together formed a broad representation of the various disciplines and departments within Alliander. During this session they determined the relevance of each theme in relation to its economic and social impacts as far as the company was concerned. This prioritisation of themes was finally compared with the materiality analysis from preceding years. The results were then submitted to Alliander’s management for approval.

Step 2: weighting and comparison with 2017

For the materiality test, Alliander uses a weighted average over several years. Apart from the greater reliability afforded by this approach and the reduced sensitivity to hypes and measurement errors, the aim is to identify trends in the materiality of themes.

Step 3: GRI aspects of relevance to Alliander

The more material themes are associated with the Global Reporting Initiative indicators, a summary of which is included in the GRI Content Index. This summary guides the composition of the information contained in this annual report.

Step 4: materiality graph

The combination of the relevance of themes to stakeholders on the Y-axis and their impact on the organisation on the X-axis shows the impact of a particular theme on the organisation’s social performance and therefore the priority accorded to it within the annual report. The materiality graph thus frames the more material topics for Alliander’s annual report.

Alliander groups the results of the materiality analysis into the following three categories:

Key themes

These are the 15 themes in the materiality matrix that stand out in the eyes of a large group of stakeholders and with respect to our performance. They are covered at length in the annual report.

Business themes

These are the themes considered not to have such high priority by a large group of stakeholders. They are themes that are relevant to just a few stakeholders or are reported because of their relevance to operations or because of legal requirements. They are not treated at length in the annual report but further information is disclosed in the GRI Content Index where necessary.

Potential themes

These are themes currently receiving a lower priority rating from the majority of stakeholders and having a lesser impact on the organisation. It is, however, quite possible for these themes to gain weight in the future so we monitor developments and keep tabs on them as necessary. In the case of a number of them, they are nevertheless included in the annual report for legal reasons or form part of the GRI index disclosures.

Step 5: implementation

The materiality of topics decided by the Management Board provides the basis for the organisation of the contents and for the overall management of the reporting process. Decisions are taken as to how the topics should be elaborated and what needs to be included in the information that is collected. The various parts of the business prepare the reporting process in conjunction with the responsible departments and agreements are reached on the validation and verification of data. For further disclosures regarding the reporting process, see ‘About this report’ and the GRI Content Index.