Sustainability is at the heart of our business, from the products we make to the way we make them. We use our deep expertise in materials, manufacturing and building science to develop products and systems that save energy and improve comfort in commercial and residential buildings. Our glass reinforcements business helps us make thousands of products lighter, stronger, and more durable.
We reduce the company’s environmental footprint by delivering energy efficiency and durable material solutions at scale, supporting local communities, and ensuring safe work environments. Furthermore, we constantly set goals to measure, reduce, and report our footprint. At the same time, we are committed to the goal of expanding our handprint around the globe, offering solutions for some of the world’s most pressing issues such as climate change, energy consumption, infrastructure development, and safe, healthy and efficient homes. Backed by the science of climate change, we are taking aggressive actions in our operations to reduce our environmental impact, well in advance of public policy.
In keeping with our philosophy, we are committed to objectively identifying material issues and evaluating the level of impact across our value chain. We began our materiality journey in 2013 with interviews and surveys of internal and external stakeholders, and in 2014-2015, we gathered additional input to refresh our list of top issues.
In 2016, we conducted additional internal and external stakeholder interviews. In particular, we wanted to hear more directly from our employees not in senior leadership roles. One of the outcomes of that work is that we refined our materiality assessment to reflect greater attention to issues that are of high importance to our employees. Therefore, we elevated employee development, safety and wellness, community impact, and waste management in our materiality matrix in the 2016 report.
In addition, we reclassified greenhouse gas and toxic air emissions as a priority area. Previously, due to differences in terminology, emissions had been identified as a priority, while climate change was not as prominent among our stakeholders. In our outreach, we found many stakeholders now see climate change and greenhouse gas and toxic air emissions as essentially the same, material issue.
Also as a result of this additional stakeholder input, we made a number of changes in the format and design of our sustainability report to make it more employee- and all-reader-friendly, which continue to be reflected in the 2017 report.
2017 Materiality Updates
In 2017, we continued to evolve and enhance our thinking and execution around material topics for our business. This evolution has been based on several inputs: standards and guidelines such as the Global Reporting Initiative Standards, Dow Jones Sustainability Index, CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; industry and workplace trends; the evolution of Owens Corning’s approach to these topics; and input from ongoing internal and external stakeholder engagement.
The first major change is that we revised the parameters of our materiality matrix to reflect the new GRI Standards. We have redefined the x-axis as “Significance of Owens Corning’s Impact and Influence” and the y-axis as “Significance of Impact on Stakeholders’ Decisions and Perceptions.” As a practical matter, that means all stakeholder views, including from our senior management, are now accounted for on the y-axis.
In addition, considering industry and workplace trends, and the realities of how we address the topics within Owens Corning, we have updated the wording and relative materiality of some of our topics. In all cases, we continued to use our original materiality data from 2014 and 2015 as the backbone for our materiality matrix, with all inputs since then enabling us to evolve our view of material topics. We believe materiality is both a science and an art that reflects the practical realities of how we run our business, what stakeholders want and need from us, and how they view our efforts.
Our 2017 materiality matrix includes the following notable changes:
- Employee Experience: We updated the wording to “Employee Experience” (from “Employee Development”) to encompass a broader range of activities, including talent attraction and retention, succession planning, engagement programs, compensation and benefits, diversity, inclusion, gender equality, as well as training and development. Given the changes, we also elevated the relative importance of employee experience as a material topic.
- Customer Experience: We created the “Customer Experience” category to encompass all that we are doing to attract, retain, and engage customers. Given the broader scope, we have slightly elevated the relative importance of customer experience as a material topic, and “CRM” is now part of customer experience.
- Safety and Wellness: “Safety and Wellness” has been elevated on the y-axis to reflect the impact it has on all stakeholders’ decisions and perceptions (particularly internal stakeholders).
- Waste Management: “Waste Management” has been elevated on the x-axis to reflect the significant impact that Owens Corning, as a multinational company with a large product portfolio and packaging needs, can have on the environment. Owens Corning recognizes this impact and redoubled its efforts in 2017 to address the topic, which includes a goal to reduce our waste-to-landfill intensity by 70% between our 2010 baseline and 2020.
- Growth Strategy + Prosperity: “Growth Strategy + Prosperity” has been introduced into the materiality matrix as a focused reporting topic. As Owens Corning is pursuing an aggressive growth program that includes organic growth as well as acquisitions, the company is recognizing the impact those growth plans can have on its sustainability efforts and stakeholders’ expectations. We believe our growth strategy will drive prosperity and sustainability for our investors, employees, partners, customers, communities, and other stakeholders. “Economic Impact” is now a factor under “Growth Strategy + Prosperity.”
- Human Rights: We have added “Human Rights” to our materiality matrix to reflect our ongoing efforts to align with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), to which Owens Corning is a signatory, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While one company’s ability to impact human rights is somewhat limited, we recognize the significant impact and need, and we are committed to helping to lead on this issue.
In addition, “Disclosure of Risk,” which barely registered on our previous matrices, has been removed from the 2017 matrix. Disclosure and management of risk remain critical throughout our business and in how we address all our material topics; therefore, we do not believe it should be called out as a distinct material topic.