Materiality Interview Series – Monica Moretto, CSR Manager at Pan American Silver
The sixth Corporate Responsibility Manager to be interviewed for our Materiality Series is called Monica Moretto. She works for Pan American Silver, one of the main mining company in Canada, which extracts silver, gold, zinc and other minerals in the USA and several countries in Latin America (Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina). She is going to tell us more about Sustainability at her company, and especially about materiality, based on our e-book “50 Materiality Matrices From 5 Key Industry Sectors” where Pan American Silver has been listed.
Q: Hi Monica! What exactly do you do at Pan American Silver? What are your missions?
A: At Pan American silver, we base our community relations work on universal principles of respect for the local cultures and the long-term sustainability of our host communities. We support programs that are born out of the feedback gathered by each of our local offices that focus mainly on health, nutrition, education, infrastructure, environment, and alternative economic development. We believe in developing “good neighbor” relationships that are based on open and honest communication. With these values at the core of all of our actions, we carry out a series of programs with the purpose of creating sustainable communities around our operations.
How long has Pan American Silver been publishing Sustainability reports? And conducting a materiality analysis?
We have been publishing Sustainability reports and conducting materiality assessments since 2009.
You last report (published in 2014) is one of the few GRI-G4 report in your industry. How did you get your hand on this new framework?
We have a very young and dedicated team, all of who are eager to take on new challenges like the GRI-G4 reporting framework. Our CSR team members in the countries in which we operate are also committed to making the necessary changes to increase the effectiveness of our programs and their respective outcomes.
What tools were you using in the process of creating your Sustainability report?
Pan American’s Sustainability report is a reflection of all of the hard work that our teams do throughout the year, and the report communicates what we do and how we do it to our large groups of stakeholders. An invaluable tool for our Sustainability reporting is that we continually assess and evaluate the projects that we run in each country, as well as frequently visit these projects and engage with the stakeholders involved. We make adjustments and changes as necessary, while always referring to our core values. Throughout the year, we collect data and information from all our teams, and at the end of the year we process this information at our corporate office and bring the report and previous year’s CSR story to life.
Was your company used to conduct stakeholder engagement and materiality analysis processes?
We have always engaged with our stakeholders and conducted stakeholder engagement sessions, but these sessions were not done annually. What we began to implement in 2013, but after a more formal evaluation became a standard practice in 2014, following the new GRI-G4 framework, is that we now conduct formal stakeholder engagement sessions on an annual basis. Prior to 2014, it used to be a discretionary activity, and countries determined the frequency of these sessions, but it was never a company-wide activity organized by Corporate, as the process was this year.
What were your main materiality sources?
Our main materiality sources are direct one-on-one engagement of local CSR teams with local communities; environmental, social, human resources and legal staff of operating jurisdictions; constant dialogue with local non-government organizations; participation in industry associations; and dialogue with investors and shareholders. We continually assess what stakeholders we need to be engaging and communication with, to be sure that we include all stakeholders involved with and affected by Pan American Silver.
What are your key material aspects? How different are they from your industry peers and competitors?
Our top six material aspects that came out of our stakeholder consultations in 2014 are Water, Mine Waste Management, Mine Closure, Employment, Occupational Health and Safety, and Local Communities. We don’t believe that these aspects are significantly different than those of our mining peers. There may be some differences based on geography or cultural groups, but the key interests of mining stakeholders do not vary greatly. There are usually small differences of material aspects between companies, but the staples like environment, health and safety, and sustainable development will always be present.
What type of design did you choose to illustrate your materiality matrix? Why?
For our first materiality matrix in our 2013 Sustainability Report, we wanted to keep the design relatively simple to be able to highlight the data present and also introduce this broad new range of GRI-G4 aspects. We used a graph with the Global Reporting Initiative’s axis labels, and clearly drew a materiality threshold line for our stakeholders to see the reasoning behind the material and non-material aspects. For our 2014 Sustainability Report, we have decided to use a more creative approach by using a bubble graph to further emphasize which aspects are important, how important they are, and which category they belong to (e.g. Environmental, Society, or Human Rights).
What was your biggest challenge when working on your Sustainability report? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is always introducing new reporting parameters for measuring data and information. It takes time to bring the teams together and create consistency across the countries’ CSR and Environmental teams. We overcome these challenges through effective communication, additional training, and a cohesive management system.
To conclude, what makes a good Sustainability Report and Stakeholder Engagement process in your view?
You need to manage expectations – those of stakeholders, your teams, and employees – and have a really good grasp of the work your company did throughout the year. This needs to be communicated clearly. Our senior managers always write our report – no ghostwriters are involved – which provides stakeholders with the management approach of the work we do and transparency to the narrative. It is also important to highlight the topics and ideas that were discussed in the stakeholder consultations, where areas of improvement exist, and what these ideas and suggestions can bring to the table. The report has to be visually interesting and able to thoroughly communicate with a vast and diverse group of stakeholders, in an efficient way, and without overbearing the stakeholder in their search for information. More pages does not mean that the result will be better, and neither does more words!
We greatly thank Monica for this great testimonial! Interested in learning more about Materiality? Download our free benchmarking e-book here!