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Our CR approach is designed to focus on the most important, or material, issues for our business.

These are the CR issues that exercise the greatest influence over the assessments and decisions of stakeholders, and are most relevant to the commercial success of the company. Assessing materiality needs to balance a number of different factors, such as:

  • The issues of higher concern to stakeholders. Stakeholders bring a wide range of perspectives, and help identify our most critical environmental, social and economic impacts, and the most significant issues for society that are linked to our activities. Understanding their perspectives helps us ensure we take the right issues into account.
  • The issues most linked to the success of the business. This is to ensure we understand the issues where there is the most direct connection with the success of our business.

Reassessment of materiality in 2015

We have reassessed materiality based on two factors: the results of a major new materiality assessment commissioned by GeSI in 2014, and significant events that have occurred in the intervening period.

The GeSI assessment involved a multi-stakeholder interview exercise and also referenced work done by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), which published a list of potentially material issues for the ICT industry in April 2014. We participated as a member of the GeSI Materiality Working Group and so were well-positioned to assess if this new, detailed research should affect our existing materiality position.

The GeSI report was referenced in our 2014 assessment, but in 2015, we took the issues identified through this report and conducted a full internal scoring exercise involving input from several key functions at HQ level, and input from all of our BUs, to ensure we captured the local perspectives on issue priorities. BU input was weighted on the basis of customer numbers, and consolidated to provide a company-wide perspective.

We also look at issues that arise during the year through dialogue with our local management teams and stakeholders, a review of the media and risk alert services and, this year, by conducting a benchmarking of our assessment against that of several other international mobile operators. In 2015, the investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Department of Justice and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (Openbaar Ministerie) remained a highly significant issue, and several markets also experienced sporadic civil unrest and violent incidents, including Ukraine, Bangladesh and Pakistan. For more information see the Responsible behavior section.

The results of the assessment are indicated in our materiality matrix and influence the focus of our strategy and our reporting. Some issues may not feature highly in the matrix but are nevertheless reported as part of our Communication on Progress against the UNGC principles.

For mobile operators, some issues such as service quality remain fundamental to their CR agenda. Other issues such as privacy continue to rise in importance as technology races ahead of regulatory frameworks and we have seen developments such as the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union which invalidated the EU-US ‘safe harbor’ program. As many of our businesses operate in emerging economies, our materiality matrix tends to be dominated more by social and economic development rather than environmental issues.

Assessing CR issues for materiality

Each issue was scored against the following criteria:

Relevance to business strategy:

  • Relevance to Customer Experience
  • Relevance to Digital Leadership
  • Relevance to New Revenue Growth
  • Relevance to Cost Efficiency
  • Relevance to Reputation (risk or enhance).

Importance to stakeholders – to what degree is the issue:

  • On Government/Policymaker agendas?
  • A Customer/Media/Public issue?
  • Important to employees?
  • An NGO Issue?
  • Part of CR indices/a GRI issue?

This approach allowed a well-rounded view of the significance of the individual issues.

Our 2015 materiality matrix

Matrix

  • CR reports
    Approach to CR
    CR strategy
  • CR videos
    Make Your Mark
    Introduction
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