ESG Materiality Assessment
Our most recent assessment was completed in December 2021 and covers AT&T’s core telecommunications operations.
Our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosures are underpinned by a regular assessment that helps identify and prioritize the most material ESG issues impacting AT&T, as well as those where AT&T significantly impacts external stakeholders. In 2021, we conducted our 6th such assessment, representing our core telecommunications operations.
AT&T’s ESG materiality assessment process follows the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) definition of material topics as those “that represent the organization’s most significant impacts on the economy, environment and people, including impacts on their human rights.”
As part of our ongoing governance, we continuously monitor pressing and emerging ESG issues and current events and prioritize programmatic and managerial efforts on those topics, as appropriate.
Our Approach to ESG Materiality
Every 2–3 years, we systematically engage a broad sampling of internal and external stakeholders to identify and prioritize the most significant ESG impacts, risks and opportunities our company should address to help ensure long-term business success. This assessment provides insight into how AT&T should focus our resources, reporting and communications. We monitor our leading ESG topics for emerging developments and adjust managerial and programmatic efforts accordingly. We also report our activities and progress toward publicly stated goals annually.
We collaborated with ISS Corporate Solutions for our 2021 assessment. Through benchmarking that analyzed our current policies, programs and alignment with global ESG assessments, frameworks and standards, we identified 29 leading ESG topics important to the telecommunications industry and AT&T. To understand the relative importance of the identified topics, we distributed electronic surveys to individuals across 8 internal and external global stakeholder groups. We received nearly 500 responses, representing virtually every aspect of our business—including AT&T management, employees, business and consumer customers, investors, suppliers, non-government organizations, industry groups, regulators and programmatic partners. We also conducted qualitative interviews with members of our Corporate Social Responsibility Governance Council, comprised of more than a dozen officers representing business operations and management functions aligned to our most important ESG focus areas.
Findings from the assessment were analyzed using a quantitative scoring system, plotting the 29 ESG topics on a matrix representing the perspectives of both internal management and external stakeholder groups. External stakeholder and employee rankings were positioned along the Y-axis. AT&T senior manager and officer rankings were positioned along the X-axis, representing the relative importance of the topics to AT&T’s business success.
The results of our 2021 assessment are shown in the interactive matrix above. Clicking on each topic displays a brief definition—as well as links to detailed reporting outlining our managerial and programmatic approach to the topic, relevant key performance indicators and GRI disclosures.
The 4 quadrants of the matrix represent levels of relative importance to AT&T and our stakeholders, although all topics are considered important and impactful to our business. Topics ranking higher with our stakeholders generate greater outside engagement and more frequent external communication. Top business priorities necessitate increased collaboration across our business.
AT&T has also developed an instrument to survey stakeholders and assess their perceptions of our corporate reputation and brand. On a monthly basis, the system measures the overall reputation of AT&T—or emotional attachment—among consumers who state they are familiar with our company’s operations or programs. We’re also able to measure interest and awareness of specific AT&T corporate responsibility programs or emerging social issues, and we can sample impressions of new programs under development.
Our measurements confirm that awareness of AT&T corporate responsibility efforts improves company reputation—which in turn generally positively affects key business metrics such as willingness to buy or recommend, and willingness to give AT&T the benefit-of-the-doubt in times of difficulty.
The results of our ongoing ESG materiality assessment efforts are reported to the CSR Governance Council and the Public Policy & Corporate Reputation Committee of the AT&T Board of Directors. The insights gleaned from stakeholder engagement efforts help guide our corporate responsibility strategy, improve our business operations and policies, ensure transparent reporting and prioritize programmatic investments and collaboration across the business.