Audi keeps its eye on the opportunities and risks of its actions, wants to make effective use of its resources and prioritize its activities in the fields of action that are most important for the company. To this end, the company constantly reviews its objectives and develops them through a dialogue with relevant interest groups.
2021 materiality analysis as the foundation
An important means to this end is the materiality analysis, which Audi has carried out since 2012. The company uses the analysis to assess its objectives and compare them with its stakeholders'1 expectations.
Back in 2021, Audi identified the 16 most relevant sustainability topics for the company, such as “Emissions and energy along the value chain” and “Alternative drives and vehicle emissions.” For this purpose, the company analyzed a number of internal and external sources such as industry standards, regulatory standards, rating criteria, studies and competitor comparisons. An online survey of around 2,200 stakeholders1 was then used to prioritize the sustainability issues that had been identified.
Updated with impact rating in 2022
Audi evolved its materiality analysis in 2022. An impact assessment in accordance with the new standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)2 was added to the stakeholder perspectives from the year before. Due to the new requirements of sustainability reporting,2 the company is now taking a more precise look at its positive and negative impacts on the environment and society. These impacts were evaluated in two steps.
For the first step of the impact assessment, the company’s strategy team identified the potential positive and negative impacts for all 16 sustainability topics in the form of opportunities and risks for Audi and, for each of them, calculated the period of impact (short-term or long-term) and the position in the value chain.
In the second step, the individual impacts were evaluated using a scoring method based on their probability of occurrence and their severity (size, scope and reversibility of the impacts, among others). At the end, internal Audi experts in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), risk management and strategy validated the impact assessment.
This resulted in an assessment of all opportunities and risks, in other words all impacts for each of the 16 topics. These were then used to prioritize the material topics as “very high,” “high” and “medium.” All topics that were evaluated as particularly important for Audi in the 2022 fiscal year were given the designation “very high.” Finally, this impact analysis (X-axis of the materiality matrix) was supplemented by the stakeholder perspectives from the 2021 materiality analysis (Y-axis of the materiality matrix).
In 2022, Audi identified two main topics as a result of combining stakeholder relevance and the impact assessment: (1) “Emissions and energy along the value chain” and (2) “Alternative drive technologies and vehicle emissions.” A total of six of the 16 topics (see diagram) were designated as “very high” in the 2022 fiscal year.
Strategic instrument for greater transparency
“Audi uses the materiality analysis as a strategic tool. Within the context of sustainability, it creates transparency firstly on the ecological and societal impacts of Audi’s actions based on the 16 most relevant sustainability topics, and secondly on the relevance of the topics from the perspective of the different stakeholders for the Audi Group,” explains Roxana Codita, Audi Corporate Responsibility. The analysis thus makes a contribution to the regular review of objectives and resource usage and therefore to the further development of the company. It provides an even better understanding of the interaction between economic success and commitment to sustainability, thereby helping to mesh these two aspects more closely. Roxana Codita: “When we as a company are aware of our impacts and can manage accordingly, we can act optimally both with regard to risk minimization and opportunity maximization as well as resource allocation.”
Dialogue on equal footing
The materiality analysis is not the only means Audi uses to maintain contact with its stakeholders: the company also uses regular dialogue events and conferences to actively involve them. “The goal of engaging in dialogue with stakeholders is to get honest assessments from representatives from politics, industry, science and civil society regarding our strategy for sustainable premium mobility. In addition, the assessments of stakeholders help us continuously improve our performance in the area of ESG3 factors,” explains Roxana Codita.
There were a number of events in 2022 where stakeholders provided new ideas along with their opinions and suggestions. The Audi Group uses these to fine-tune its objectives, identify key topics early on and improve its ESG performance. For example, a personal stakeholder dialogue on strategic sustainability matters was held in Berlin in 2022. “Audi im Dialog 2022” made it possible to obtain feedback from experts on the “Vorsprung 2030” strategy as it relates to (e-)mobility and the circular economy. At the “Audi Act4Impact Summit” with more than 100 partner companies, Audi encouraged a mutual exchange of ideas about sustainability in the supply chain.