Stakeholder engagement and materiality

The scope and issues covered in our sustainability report were selected based on the GRI standards reporting principles, the GRI boundary protocol, stakeholder input from our materiality assessment and ongoing trend analysis.

We take a precautionary approach to our sustainability strategy and report on issues that are material to our current and future business, and our stakeholders. The pandemic was an opportunity to pause and define what we can/should do better, not only within our group strategy but also within our sustainability approach.

We already do a lot in terms of sustainability, but what can we do even better? To find out, we conducted a new materiality assessment in 2020 to ensure our programme and initiatives are in line with our stakeholders’ expectations and feedback.

 

Stakeholder engagement approach

Our process towards understanding key stakeholder issues and identifying our priorities follows eight steps, which we conduct as part of the reporting process:
  • Manage and review key stakeholders
  • Conduct surveys with key stakeholders
  • Research trends affecting our business
  • Review third-party research to understand global mega trends
  • Conduct an internal risk assessment (by the group finance team)
  • Assess all identified issues and prioritise critical issues for focus within our strategy (by the group sustainability team)
  • Review, discuss, give feedback and approval (by executive management)
  • Present findings to key stakeholders for review
stakeholder engagement approach

Key stakeholders

Our management team identifies our primary stakeholders as those who have a significant interest in the actions and views of the company and whose actions and opinions are, in turn, of significant importance to us. We validate our identified stakeholder groups through comparison with our industry peers.

Our stakeholders are clients, talents, suppliers, the meetings industry, shareholders, the community, media, NGOs, governments and regulators.

We use the input from our stakeholders to create, validate and improve our sustainability strategy. Our stakeholder engagement process focuses on five key stakeholder groups (clients, talents, suppliers, the meetings industry and the community). From them, we gather information and feedback via various formal and informal methods.

These included:

  • An online sustainability survey of 338 talents
  • An online sustainability survey of 88 key corporate and institutional clients
  • An online talent satisfaction survey of 844 talents (52% of all talents)
  • Evaluations between talents and their managers during their annual appraisal
  • Face-to-face interaction with clients, suppliers and meetings industry partners
  • Face-to-face project meetings
  • Online client satisfaction surveys as part of our satisfaction measurement programme.

Stakeholder input provides critical feedback that is used to help develop our sustainability strategy and this report. After the results of the survey are produced they are shared with the respective stakeholders, and further input is solicited. We engage with our media and government stakeholders on an ad-hoc basis. Our shareholders are addressed through the management team and the advisory board.

Summary of stakeholder feedback

Talents feedback (338 respondents)

Rated 4.19 / 5 on the importance of sustainability for mci group’s business with the top three reasons being:

%

because it inspires and enables them to live a more sustainable and healthy life at work

%

because it’s strategic (added value)

%

because it encourages innovation

%

of talents indicated they have a clear or adequate understanding of what is expected from them at work in terms of sustainability.

%

say they have excellent or adequate material/tools/resources on sustainability to do their job.

%

think the Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity for the mci group to step up its sustainability commitment.

Talents ranked the following four categories as the most important aspects of sustainability within the mci group:

1. Ensure equal opportunity and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status (Gender equality – SDG #5 + Reduced inequalities – SDG #10)

2. Ensure safe and secure working environments in our offices and within the events we organise (Decent work and economic growth – SDG #8)

3. Contribute to a better life for people by supporting decent work and good ethics throughout our supply chain (Decent work and economic growth – SDG #8)

4. Integrate sustainable practices within the events we organise to reduce waste and unnecessary consumption of resources (Responsible consumption and production – SDG #12)

    Clients ranked the following five categories as the most important aspects of sustainability within the mci group:

    1. Good health and wellbeing – SDG #3

    2. Gender equality – SDG #5

    3. Responsible consumption and production – SDG #12

    4. Decent work and economic growth – SDG #8

    5. Reduced inequalities – SDG #10

    Actions they would like to see more of in our proposals:
    • Reduce food consumption and event waste
    • Eliminate all plastic or single-use items
    • Reduce event collaterals
    • Reduce energy and water consumption
    • Ensure diversity and inclusion are respected
    • More digitisation or online solutions

    Client feedback

    %

    have a sustainability strategy, and sustainability is part of their core values.

    %

    have integrated sustainability in their strategy in some way

    %

    are either just looking into or are considering a more sustainable approach but are missing a strategy

    %

    don’t mention sustainability in their RFPs as they expect the supplier/partner to offer sustainable options pro-actively;

    %

    ask for ideas

    %

    of them, it is a criterion when selecting a partner.

    %

    ask their suppliers to complete an audit or assessment;

    %

    evaluate suppliers on a case-by-case basis;

    %

    don’t assess suppliers on their sustainability practices whatsoever.

    %

    agree that the sustainability solutions we provided met their objectives

    Materiality matrix

     

    We define issues that are material to our company as those that:
    • Have or may have a significant impact on the company’s finances or operations.
    • Have or may have a significant impact on the environment or society, now or in the future.
    • Can substantially influence the assessments, decisions and actions of our stakeholders and shareholders.
    We chose to prioritise the following material topics:
    • Health and wellbeing
    • Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
    • Safe and secure working environments
    • Learning and development
    • Responsible consumption and production
    • Responsible sourcing
    • Sustainable office operations (focus on digital carbon footprint)
    • Giving back to the community

    Key impacts, risks and opportunities

    With the size and global scale of mci group, there are significant indirect and direct impacts of our business.

    Our 2020 revenue and direct financial impact were almost €237 million.
    Not only do the projects we organise generate revenue for our company and tax for the governments where we operate, they also provide a return on investment for our clients while generating indirect income for local businesses. This income helps to create jobs, drive tourism and even accelerate innovation and economic development.

    Taking its wider indirect and induced impacts into account, while the travel and tourism sector suffered significant losses in 2020, it still contributed an estimated €4.7 trillion to the global economy and supported more than 272 million jobs. This is equal to 5.5% of the world’s GDP and approximately 1 in 11 of all jobs. (Figures published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC))

    In 2020 we organised more than 5,500 campaigns and digital activations across 69 countries, convening 1.8 million participants. Large-scale on-the-ground experiences are highly resource intensive and can have both positive and negative environmental consequences for the host city and population.

    Our direct environmental impacts are the energy used to power our offices, data traffic and storage and the carbon emissions from this usage and travel.

    Indirectly, if we include our client events in our total footprint, our impacts are transportation, waste, water and energy consumption, food and beverage and materials usage (communication and materials, audio-visual, etc).

    The restrictions due to the pandemic contributed to a significant drop in our carbon emissions in 2020. Our scope 1 and 2 emissions fell by 71%, while our scope 3 emissions were down 60%.

    Events bring people together and by their very nature have an impact on our talents, our suppliers, attendees and the communities where we operate. Our social aspects include labour practices, human rights, occupational health and safety, training and education, community citizenship and investment, communication and legacy.

    We believe that by engaging and supporting local communities and international sustainability causes we can leave a positive legacy through education, workshops and collaborations. Looking deeper into local economies, employing local talent, choosing local suppliers and adding a community element in support of local needs will also have a positive impact.

    Since 2010, mci group talents have raised over €17.4 million for community projects. More info

    In 2020, the mci group had an indirect contribution of over €2.6 million in pro-bono event management and through the fundraising programmes we organised for our clients.

    Operational risk assessment

    More than 20 top management stakeholders are involved in the risk identification and assessment annually with the goal of identifying and classifying our risks.
    Our management team reviews these risks and develops strategies to mitigate them. All categories of risk are taken into account.

      Our risk assessment process reviews over 90 risks that are divided into eight areas:
      1. Business development
      2. Fraud
      3. Governance/structure
      4. Human resources (HR)
      5. Information technology (IT)
      6. Laws and regulations/compliance
      7. Reporting control
      8. Reputation

       

      Key risks identified in 2020 :
      • Lack of data protection (privacy andsecurity)
      • NEW – Pandemic, health issue
      • NEW – Profitability challenge/third-parties’ solvability
      • Losing the technology race (innovation/digitisation)
      • Loss of key personnel – failure to retain employees
      • NEW – Changes in legislation and regulation
      • NEW – Macroeconomic developments 
      • Lack of skilled employees to face Horizon 2025 challenges
      • Cyberattack
      • Cash-flow constraints
      • Fraud case
      • Market social instability

      Trend analysis – opportunities

      Today’s global business environment is more complex, uncertain, volatile and dynamic than ever with sustainability being one of the key challenges facing the global economy. We see several trends that will impact our clients, our business and our industry over the next decades.

      Planet

      As the impact of climate change becomes increasingly real and public concern heightens, we will likely see an escalation of citizen protests, increased employee advocacy and disruption of fossil fuel supply chains by climate activists. 

      Climate mitigation

      We should see a rapid acceleration in the advancement and application of low-carbon technologies. Asset managers will increasingly move to divest from carbon-intensive coal companies in their actively managed portfolios, in an attempt to reduce exposure to risk.

      Circular solutions

      Driven by societal and regulatory pressures, consumer goods companies are increasingly piloting and adopting circular strategies. More companies are expected to innovate, collaborate and demonstrate the opportunities of a net-zero emissions circular economy.

      Plastic

      With several national bans and regulations due to come into effect in 2020 and an increased emphasis on producer responsibility, particularly in Europe, companies will come under increased pressure to put into action robust plans to achieve their plastic commitments and invest the necessary resources into implementing those plans.

      Sustainable consumption

      Concern about the environment is increasing worldwide and consumers — most notably millennials and Gen Z — are feeling anxious about the state of the planet.

      We will continue to see a growing number of companies respond to these preferences by providing products and services that enable consumers to live more sustainably.

      Technological and digital innovation

      Rapid advancements in internet, mobile, artificial intelligence, data management and other technologies hold enormous potential to offer solutions to some of the world’s most complex social and environmental problems.

      But with new technologies come new challenges. There is a deepening inequality within the spread of technology across the world and also between citizens and corporations. Impactful technology also poses significant challenges: from cybersecurity and privacy to rising inequality and job automation. Questions about bias in technologies driven by algorithms and artificial intelligence and how to make them accountable will only increase in urgency and importance.

      People

      Demographic and social changes will see governments and businesses finding huge opportunities as well as facing enormous challenges, as the largest generation in history, millennials, drive the economy. Millennials and those that come after them will be more educated and will come with different expectations regarding opportunity, mobility, relationships and ownership.

      Human capital

      Unaddressed mental health, poor stress management and lack of flexibility in work schedules are impacting the wellbeing of workers and companies’ bottom lines. 

      A growing number of companies will look into ways to go beyond basic healthcare services and benefits, trialling new approaches to wellness and work/life balance that help employees thrive in the workplace. Efforts to define and measure human capital will also accelerate.

      Differentiated lifeworlds

      The divergence between people’s individual lifeworlds will increase by 2030. Gender roles will no longer be accepted as being predetermined and will increasingly be defined by individuals themselves. New forms of individuality will be established based on complex identity formation processes and modified body images. Patterns of consumption, which are motivated by multiple factors such as the increasing demand for personalised products, a deeper integration of customers in product development processes, increasing sensitisation to sustainable consumption and a transition from ownership to sharing platforms in certain product categories, will also become increasingly differentiated.

      Changing work environments

      Whether it’s organisational forms, work equipment, operational profiles or competency requirements, a fundamental change is recognisably taking place in the work environment at all levels. Work is being organised on a more flexible basis, both spatially and chronologically, and companies are attempting to dissolve traditional silos in favour of more open structures. Workers will be expected to accept more personal responsibility and self-organisation. In addition, they will be required to work continuously on the development of their personal skills profiles. At the same time, workforces will become more diversified, which will present new challenges for both managers and staff.

       

      Profit

      Globalisation has produced unequal returns. Rising inequality is challenging trust in traditional global economic institutions and agreements. More frequent trade wars and rising protectionism will drive uncertainty and instability. How will individuals, corporations and governments renegotiate their expectations of one another in an era of amplified individuals and rapidly changing economies?

      Volatile economy

      Throughout the world, companies and economies are experiencing increasingly volatile development dynamics. Several factors are contributing to this development. Global mutual dependencies have increased at the same pace as the flows of international capital and goods have burgeoned in the wake of globalisation. The risk of contagion in times of crises has also increased and local events can have global consequences. In addition, the incidence rate of crises of an international character is also growing, which deprives national economies of the ability ever to achieve full recovery. Increasing global inequalities further complicate the situation. Increasingly, a reliable monetary, economic and fiscal policy is becoming a thing of the past. Industry structures are changing under the influence of disruptive innovations. Speculative investment activities are also destabilising the global economic system.

       

      The GRI Index

      Our 2020 Sustainability Report was developed following the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards guidelines.

       

      Scope of report

      This Sustainability Report covers the period from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020. The scope and issues covered in the report were selected based on the GRI standards reporting principles, the GRI boundary protocol, stakeholder input and ongoing trend analysis. We take a precautionary approach to our sustainability strategy and report on issues that are material to our current and future business, and our stakeholders.

      This website also serves as our Communication on Progress (COP) Report for the United Nations Global Compact. We report at the GC advanced level.

      Changes and restatements

      2020 was a pivotal year for our industry, resulting in a decrease in the group’s organic year-on-year gross margin (-35% to €105.2 million). We adopted a diversification strategy to increase our focus on digital, marketing services and community management. This strategic approach combined with management restructuring resulted in a positive adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of €6.5 million.

      From a human capital perspective, to limit furlough and preserve knowledge and operational strength, where feasible we used employment subsidies, paused recruitment, and our leadership team accepted a salary cut. 100% of shares held in One CMG Group and MCI Copenhagen A/S and 80% of the shares of mci China have been sold.

      FairControl, our marketing and performance measurement specialist, rebranded into “insidery” to better reflect its service offering.

      In 2021, to capitalise on and accelerate market opportunities, we created mci group. mci group is a next-gen platform for marketing innovation and breakthrough communication in the digital age. As a group, this structure represents a bridge across our brand disciplines and assets portfolio. This new enhancement and our reports and communications reflect this new branding.

      Why do we report?

      We produce this sustainability report for three key reasons:

      1. To drive the performance of our sustainability processes and accountability.
      2. To build trust in our brand by transparently communicating our past performance and future strategy.
      3. Compliance: clients, governments and financial institutions are increasingly demanding that we report on our sustainability programme.
      Feedback appreciated

      The sustainability journey is a collaborative one. Your thoughts about this report and any suggestions that might help us improve the efficiency and impact of our efforts towards sustainability are welcome.
      Please email your comments to our sustainability team: sustainability@mci-group.com

      Acknowledgments:

      We would like to say a special thank you to our sustainability champions for their dedication and passion and our colleagues from people and culture, finance, L&D and MarComs for their help in producing this report.
      Thank you to Samantha Fouche from Red Calabash and Sam Chambers from brandeye.am for their expertise and assistance with the fine-tuning of our website.

      GRI Index: Table

      Our reporting follows the Global Reporting Initiative Standards Guidelines.

      We currently report in accordance with the GRI Standards Reporting Guidelines: Core option.

      GRI StandardDisclosureReference
      Organisational profile
      102-1Organisation nameAbout us
      102-2Activities, brands, products and servicesmci group Annual Report
      102-3Location of headquartersAbout mci group
      102-4Location of operationsmci group Annual Report
      102-5Ownership and legal formmci group is a private company. The Tondeur family owns 37% of shares, 43% are owned by the senior management team and the remaining shares are divided between our two equity investors, Indigo Capital (8%) and EMZ Partners (12% of shares).
      102-6Markets servedmci group Annual Report
      102-7Scale of the organisationAbout mci group
      102-8Information on employees and other workersPeople and culture
      102-9Supply chainResponsible business
      102-10Significant changes to the organisation and its supply chainOur approach
      About our reporting
      102-11Precautionary principle or approach addressed by the organisation About our reporting
      Our sustainability policy
      102-12External initiativesOur approach
      102-13Membership of associationsWith our clients and our industry
      Strategy
      102-14Statement from senior decision-makerOur approach
      102-15Key impacts, risks, and opportunitiesAbout our reporting
      Ethics and integrity
      102-16Values, principles, standards, and norms of behaviourResponsible business
      102-17Mechanisms for advice and concerns about ethicsResponsible business
      Governance
      102-18Governance structureAbout us
      102-32Highest governance body’s role in sustainability reportingAbout us
      Stakeholder engagement
      102-40List of stakeholder groupsAbout our reporting
      102-41Collective bargaining agreementsNot tracked
      102-42Identifying and selecting stakeholdersAbout our reporting
      102-43Approach to stakeholder engagementAbout our reporting
      102-44Key topics and concerns raisedAbout our reporting
      Reporting practice
      102-45Entities included in the consolidated financial statementsmci group Annual Report
      102-46Defining report content and topic boundariesAbout our reporting
      102-47List of material topicsAbout our reporting
      102-48Restatements of informationAbout our reporting
      102-49Changes in reportingAbout our reporting
      102-50Reporting period1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020.
      102-51Date of most recent reportOur latest report was issued in June 2020 and covered the period from 1 January to 31 December 2019.
      102-52Reporting cycleAnnual
      102-53Contact point for questions regarding the reportsustainability@mci-group.com
      102-54Claims of reporting in accordance with the GRI StandardsAbout our reporting
      102-55GRI content indexAbout our reporting
      102-56 External assuranceAbout our reporting
      GRI StandardDisclosureReference
      ECONOMIC
      Economic performance
      201Management approachmci group Annual Report
      201-1Direct economic value generated and distributedmci group Annual Report
      Procurement practices
      204Management approachResponsible business
      Anti-corruption
      205Management approachResponsible business
      205-3Confirmed incidents of corruption and actions takenNo incidents of corruption to report.
      ENVIRONMENTAL
      Energy
      302Management approachEnvironmental impact
      302-1Energy consumption within the organisationEnvironmental impact
      302-2Reduction of energy consumptionEnvironmental impact
      Emissions
      305Management approachEnvironmental impact
      305-1Direct (Scope 1) GHG emissionsEnvironmental impact
      305-2Energy indirect (Scope 2) GHG emissionsEnvironmental impact
      305-3Other indirect (Scope 3) GHG emissionsEnvironmental impact
      SOCIAL
      Employment
      401Management approachPeople and culture
      401-1New employee hires and employee turnoverPeople and culture
      Occupational health and safety
      403Management approachSafety and security
      403-5Worker training on occupational health and safetySafety and security
      403-9Work-related injuriesSafety and security
      People and culture
      Training and education
      404Management approachPeople and culture
      404-2Programmes for upgrading employee skills and People and culture
      404-3Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviewsPeople and culture
      Diversity and equal opportunity
      405Management approachPeople and culture
      405-1Diversity of governance bodies and employeesPeople and culture
      Customer health and safety
      416Management approachSafety and security
      416-1Assessment of the health and safety impacts of product and service categoriesSafety and security
      Customer Privacy
      418Management approachSafety and security
      418-1Substantiated complaints concerning breaches of customer privacy and losses of customer dataSafety and security
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