Strategic Planning and Execution

Materiality and Saliency

Expand the definition of financially material risk to include material and salient sustainability impacts, and prioritize these risks, and also the related opportunities, in the setting of business priorities. 


Companies expand the assessment of financially material risks and opportunities to include relevant sustainability impacts, including a specific examination of the salient human rights issues of people most affected by corporate operations and business practices and partnerships. Companies regularly engage with and consider the perspectives of all key stakeholder groups in the evaluation of material and salient sustainability impacts, and then integrate material and salient priorities in their determination of corporate purpose, evaluation of enterprise risk, refinement of corporate strategy and identification of business priorities. 

Getting Started

Unlike the Critical Impact Actions, the actions within Strategic Planning and Execution do not have milestones leading to 2030. Each company already has the ability to begin taking or continue integrating these actions today.  Rather than taking iterative steps over the next 10 years, companies should prioritize strengthening their corporate systems and equipping themselves with the tools to address risk and capitalize on opportunity as soon as possible.

This section of the Ceres Roadmap 2030 identifies a list of resources to help companies further integrate sustainability into strategic planning and execution.

Corporate Purpose - A collection of resources from McKinsey & Company to help companies define their corporate purpose.

UN Guiding Principles: Salient Human Rights Issues - Part of the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework that shows companies how to focus their human rights reporting on their salient human rights issues.

The Use of Scenario Analysis in Disclosure of Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities - A guide to assist organizations in using climate-related scenario analysis to support the development of disclosures consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

A4S Essential Guide to CapEx - A guide that shows how businesses can adapt their existing capital investment appraisal processes in a pragmatic and systematic manner to integrate social and environmental issues.

A4S Essential Guide to Finance Culture - This guide provides practical tools that will help finance teams develop a culture that embraces sustainable decision-making and supports the business in creating sustainable value.

Applying Enterprise Risk Management to Environmental, Social, and Governance-related Risks - This guidance is designed to help risk management and sustainability practitioners apply enterprise risk management (ERM) concepts and processes to ESG-related risks.

Companies in Action

Ford Motor Company goes beyond materiality and identifies salient issues in line with UN Guiding Principles. Over the past few years, companies have started going beyond an exclusive focus on materiality and are now using saliency in assessments to identify priority human rights issues throughout their business activities and relationships. In 2018, Ford Motor Company became the first automaker to conduct a formal human rights saliency assessment in line with the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework (UNGPRF), using a combination of desk research, internal and external stakeholder engagement and a validation workshop to identify the company's salient human rights issues. Two years later, Ford's 2020 assessment built on those original findings to more closely analyze vulnerable populations across Ford’s value chain. Among the 10 salient issues identified were human trafficking; health, safety, and security; access to water and sanitation; air quality; and climate change—underscoring the intrinsic connection between environmental and social impacts and their impact on human rights. Through a detailed annual report in line with UNGPRF, Ford provides an overview of its human rights management process, accountability systems and action plans for addressing its salient issues across all business activities and relationships. 

Nestlé balances material financial risks with salient human rights risks. As companies further integrate sustainability into their core business strategies, it is critical that they consider both material financial risks and the risk they may face from any negative impacts on the human rights of individuals and communities along the value chain. To accomplish this, Nestlé regularly leverages materiality assessments and human rights impact assessments to identify both where ESG issues pose a risk to the business and where its own operations and relationships pose a risk to human rights. By doing so, Nestlé is able to bring a full picture of its performance to key governing bodies within the company. The results of both assessments are fed into the company's Enterprise RIsk Management framework and its board Nomination and Sustainability Committee oversee how the company is integrating and acting on the results. Similarly, while a materiality assessment alone would indicate how mismanagement of human rights issues by Nestlé may be a reputational risk for the company, the complementary human rights impact assessment and identification of salient human rights issues allow the company to understand where it can remediate current negative impacts and eventually prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Newmont Mining leverages its materiality and saliency processes to focus on key risks and opportunities. The dynamic business environment demands a regular re-examination of material priorities. To reflect this evolving landscape, Newmont Mining conducts an annual materiality review that is paired with a more in-depth assessment every few years. Through its sustainability report, the company publishes its materiality matrix, a detailed overview of process and feedback from stakeholders. The priorities identified also reflect the company's salient human rights issues, which were first defined in 2015 and updated again in 2018 through a robust stakeholder engagement process. These salient issues are identified by analyzing how the company’s business activities impact human rights across the supply chain. They follow expectations laid out in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Reporting Framework (UNGRPF), which are articulated in the company's sustainability report. Newmont Mining also discloses a stand-alone report describing the company’s approach to human rights management, including risks, accountability, and a detailed description of salient issues, along with the actions taken to address each of them.