In 2015 and 2016, we undertook a process to evaluate the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues that are most material to our company. As part of this process we asked a third party, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), to conduct confidential interviews with 30 senior executives from across our lines of business and control functions and 15 leaders from civil rights, consumer, community development and environmental organizations, and socially responsible investment firms.
BSR used the company’s Responsible Growth Strategy and Operating Principles as a framework for the interviews and subsequent analysis. The goal of the assessment was to determine which ESG issues are most relevant to both external stakeholders and the company’s core business strategy.
Issues were weighted, prioritized and plotted on the following ESG Materiality Assessment Map according to their relative degree of importance. The Materiality Map was then reviewed and approved by the company’s ESG Group and Global ESG Committee. It is important to note that all issues on the Map — regardless of where they fall — are relevant to the company. These issues were drawn from a broader set of potential areas, many of which were deemed not to be pertinent to the bank. For clarity, we grouped issues as Governance, Environment, Society, or People (i.e., dividing Social issues into external and internal categories).
We used the results of our ESG Materiality Assessment to guide our disclosure alignment to GRI and to ensure transparency with regard to ESG issues of greatest importance.