Materiality Case Study: Union Pacific
Union Pacific regularly engages with stakeholders in a multitude of forums across its operations, which span 32,000 miles and more than 7,000 communities, in which our employees live and work. This allows the company to understand the context of the most material issues on an ongoing basis. As a result, Union Pacific has concluded that it has the context necessary to understand material issues for its sustainability management and reporting without a further formal materiality assessment. This approach follows the GEMI materiality assessment flowchart by concluding that internal resources can adequately address the subject.
The company regularly relies on input from community forums, customer surveys, employee engagement tools, and external resources to identify items of greatest value for the company and its stakeholders. This led the company to commit to four key sustainability and citizenship pillars: Operating Safely, Strengthening Communities, Engaging Employees and Preserving the Environment. The company uses the Global Reporting Initiative’s G4 Guidelines to inform reporting on its most material issues. In addition, Union Pacific uses an Enterprise Risk Management process to incorporate input from internal departments, including Strategic Planning, Operations, Law and the Environmental Management Group, to identify risks and opportunities. Each department plays a role in managing risks and opportunities and evaluating materiality and priorities. This work results in 17 primary Key Performance Indicators – pictured below – that the company reports on each spring in its Sustainability & Citizenship Report, along with dozens of supporting initiatives.