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Sprint conducted its first materiality assessment in early 2008, partnering with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). Sprint revises the assessment bi-annually to ensure strategies and priorities reflect the most recent stakeholder and business prioritization.
In the context of Corporate Responsibility (CR), Sprint defines materiality as: issues that substantively influence the assessments and decisions of key stakeholders and that have significant influence over business success.
The prioritization of issues is achieved by plotting issues on a materiality matrix with one side reflecting the importance of the issue to stakeholders and the other side reflecting the importance of the issue to the business. Issues are plotted on the matrix through a two-stage process: (1) issue identification and (2) issue prioritization.
BSR created the initial set of issues using information from the public domain together with interviews with Sprint business and functional leaders. The public-domain information sources represent many of Sprint's key external stakeholders, including government, media, peer companies, Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) firms, customers, non-governmental organizations, and experts in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The issues are refined and placed into logical groupings.
Each issue is then analyzed to rank its influence on business success and importance to stakeholders. Business success and stakeholder interests are assessed based on the following dimensions and proxies:
Each issue is ranked as "high" or "low" across each of the business dimensions and stakeholder proxies. For example, an issue might be ranked low according to impact on customer satisfaction but high according to media tracking. This results in issues on the "long list" receiving different numbers of "high" and "low" rankings, which are then plotted on the materiality matrix. The plotting is then scrutinized, discussed and altered through ongoing conversations with key Sprint business and function leaders.
Sprint refreshed its materiality assessment in the second quarter 2011 in preparation for the development of a three-year CR plan. The first step was adjusting the categories to better map to Sprint's CR priorities and goals, as well as Sprint's organizational alignment. The new list mapped directly to the priority areas of operations, product, customer, employee and community. The next step was adding new issues to the list. Examples of new issues that were added include having an environmental-management system, efforts to reduce paper, the creation of new category for operational e-waste, and new categories for the creation of environmental and social mobile solutions. This resulted in a slightly larger list of issue categories, but offered greater visibility into the company's most significant issues. Sprint then assessed the business impact of each issue and reviewed the 2008 stakeholder proxy assessments, adjusting them based on stakeholder input over the past year.
The issues remained fairly consistent from 2008 to 2011, but the reclassification of some of the detailed issues and addition of some new categories significantly improved the visibility of some of the top issues. For example, device e-waste was included under the green-product category in the 2008 assessment but broken out as its own category in 2011. This resulted in "green product" shifting slightly down in importance to stakeholders and to business success while device e-waste was shown to be one of the most important single issues. The other issues that increased in prominence include social solutions, environmental solutions and customer satisfaction. Each of these areas figures prominently in our three-year CR strategic plan.