How GrandVision’s ESG reporting journey accelerated the company’s sustainable business practices
It was not long ago when GrandVision was preparing for our first-ever CSR Report. The document summarized the responsible and sustainable practices that the company had established across its operations, shining the first light on the impact it had on society and the environment.
Soon it became clear that this report would effectively support GrandVision in its ambition to establish more responsible and sustainable business practices across the entire organization. It also set the agenda for many discussions with company leadership regarding our environmental, social and governance priorities and performances. And, it kicked off the company’s journey towards integrating Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability approaches into our business model.
“When I joined GrandVision in 2016, I was tasked with shaping the company’s non-financial reporting journey, and among other things, the sustainability reporting strategy,” says Darina Elencheva, GrandVision Head of CSR. “Back then, we were still in the process of figuring out what the most important ESG—environmental, social, governance—topics were. By teaming up with Sustainalize, an established advisor in the field of corporate sustainability strategy and reporting, we started actively engaging with a variety of internal and external stakeholders. At this point, we were able to paint a picture of what our greater role in society was—as an employer of a highly-specialized eye care workforce, as a manufacturer of medical devices, and as a retailer and eye care service provider with a vast global store network.”
The impact CSR reporting made on GrandVision’s sustainability journey was beyond expected. It not only raised awareness about the company’s broader role in society, it also guided the foundation for GrandVision’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability strategy, as part of our GrandVision Cares program. Thanks to this, we are currently integrating topics related to the environment, social matters and governance into GrandVision’s overall business strategy. We are also creating a shared set of metrics to track and communicate our progress.
“We’ve experienced that external CSR reporting is a real lever for change. Internally, it accelerates the uptake of new innovative programs and drives target setting and performance management. Externally, stakeholders including investors and NGOs increasingly reward it,” explains Nick de Ruiter, partner at Sustainalize. “Furthermore, it facilitates a lower cost of capital through green financing possibilities, like Sustainability Linked Loans and Green Bonds.”
And indeed, in just four years GrandVision moved from a preliminary CSR Report to its first integrated strategy and Annual Report, achievements that we are proud of. The increased understanding of ESG risks and opportunities across the organization, as well as the elevated transparency in communication and reporting on these, enabled external stakeholders to understand the organization’s value, and tangible and intangible assets, in a clearer way. The integrated strategy and report also established a high-level of transparency and trust in the business by giving consumers, shareholders, employees and beyond a glimpse into our entire organization—not only our financial performance.
Ultimately, through benchmarking and assessing our sustainability performance with respect to governance, norms, legal codes, performance standards, and voluntary initiatives, GrandVision also raised our profiles in external ESG rankings managed by Sustainalytics, CDP and FTSE4Good, and its rankings confirm our leading position among our peers in retail and healthcare.
“For GrandVision, stakeholders’ interests have served as important input for integrated management, as well as stakeholder engagement and trust. Stakeholder input played a role in encouraging GrandVision to be more transparent on topics that matter for both the company and society in its CSR and integrated reporting,” shares Lianne Dijkstra, Sustainable Business Advisor. “Benchmarks and their criteria provided GrandVision with insight on its ESG performance and identified additional opportunities for the company’s business model to create societal value. This further shifted the direction of GrandVision’s reporting journey into a long-term value creation approach and to focus more deeply on the ultimate ambition to improve the quality of life of more and more people in the world.”
And to reinforce our commitment to transparent reporting and to advance GrandVision’s responsible and sustainable business practices, we signed a Sustainability Linked Loan in 2019 based on the company’s Sustainalytics ESG score.
Our sustainability reporting journey has been a deep source of learning, as well as a powerful tool to connect with GrandVision’s internal and external stakeholders. And while the sky is the limit, we will continue to leverage the knowledge and insights we gain to advance our responsible and sustainable business practices.