Sustainability program

Materiality Analysis

As the world’s leading provider of hearing solutions, Sonova has both a duty to act responsibly and an ability to make a positive impact on society. Our sustainability program aligns closely with our business strategy; its topics are reviewed both at the highest management level and regularly at meetings of the Board of Directors.

Identification and Prioritization

At Sonova, material issues are those business, social, and environmental topics that either create significant value, cause potential risks, or have negative impacts for our internal and external stakeholders. This year, we have further refined the materiality matrix produced in 2014/15. The picture below summarizes the new sustainability landscape that underlies our sustainability program and shows how we intend to create value. The sustainability program encompasses our vision, our values and our commitments. All topics with high or medium impact from the 2014/15 materiality matrix appear in the current sustainability landscape, either as part of the four core commitments Sonova makes towards its stakeholders, or as part of our governance, risk, and compliance management.

Sustainability Landscape

Our vision – the “why”

Our company’s vision is the motivation for our actions and provides the basis for our sustainability program. Over 15% of the world’s adults experience some degree of hearing loss, but very few are treated for it. At Sonova, our vision is straightforward: We foster a world in which all people equally enjoy the delight of hearing and live a life without limitations.

Our values – the “how”

The values describe how we interact with each other and how we do business. We help people hear the world by providing the most innovative technology, by dedicating ourselves to service, and by accepting responsibility for all of our actions. Our governance, risk, and compliance management further substantiate and formalize our values.

Our commitments – the “what”

The four commitments explain what we do to transform our vision into reality: we are creating value for our stakeholders by providing customer-focused solutions and expanding access to hearing care, we are doing business in a responsible manner by investing in our employees and partners, as well as by maximizing our eco-efficiency. We live up to our commitments through specific, defined fields of activity. The sustainability report is structured in terms of the commitments and provides information on the progress we made in each of these defined activities.

Customer focused solutions

We continuously push the limits of technology and innovation to offer the best solutions to our customers.

Fields of activity

  • New products
  • E-solutions

Goal 

We will continue to offer the broadest range of technologically advanced hearing solutions to our customers by investing 7–8% of our sales in R&D and by applying for a minimum of 40 patents each year.

Approach 

  • Investment in expertise and training: We continuously strengthen the expertise of hundreds of engineers working in our R&D centers around the world to drive innovation in hearing aids, cochlear implants, wireless communication systems, and professional hearing care solutions.
  • Strong partnerships: We leverage the complementary strengths of all our business brands and foster know-how transfer through close collaboration with expert networks and universities around the globe.
  • E-solutions: We strategically focus on the development of e-solutions to establish one-to-one, real-time relationships with our customers.

Performance

Read about our achievements and progress in 2016/17 in the corresponding section of this CSR Report “Customer focused solutions”.

 

Access to hearing care

We improve the quality of life for millions of people with hearing loss.

Fields of activity

  • New markets
  • Hear the World Foundation

Goal

We aim to provide access to hearing care and improve the quality of life for more than 12 million people worldwide by 2020.

Approach

  • Extensive product portfolio: At Sonova, we offer a wide range of performance and pricing levels, from standard to premium solutions.
  • Hearing care infrastructure: By developing new service formats and distribution channels and by supporting the education of local specialists, we can provide hearing care services and treatment to groups who are currently underserved.
  • Partnerships: By building productive partnerships and collaborations with local organizations, we can offer the fullest benefit of our skills and services to the people who need them.
  • Foundation: Affordable hearing care is still a challenge for people in countries with low-to-middle income and for underprivileged social groups in countries with high income. We cater to these groups through our charitable Hear the World Foundation.

Performance

Read about our achievements and progress in 2016/17 in the corresponding section of this CSR Report “Access to hearing care”.

 

Investment in people

We offer a flexible and inclusive work environment and an open culture that inspires personal growth and professional development. We act responsibly towards and communicate openly with all employees and partners.

Fields of activity

  • Professional development
  • Body & Mind
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Human rights & Labor practices

Goal 

We will fill at least half of all vacant leadership positions per year from inside the company.

Approach 

  • Professional career development: We develop our employees to higher levels of success with a systematic talent management process including a strategic approach to training, succession, and career planning.

  • Holistic group-wide health initiative: We foster a culture of health and wellbeing at work through our Body & Mind initiative.

  • International labor standards: We conduct business and align our codes and principles according to internationally recognized standards of the United Nations (UN), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). All our employees, business partners, and suppliers are expected to comply with these standards.

Performance

Read about our achievements and progress in 2016/17 in the corresponding section of this CSR Report “Investment in people”.

 

Safeguarding the environment

We ensure eco-efficient practices across all our business activities.

Fields of activity

  • Environmental program
  • Smart Mobility

Approach

  • Operational energy efficiency: We reduce our carbon footprint by fully utilizing capacity, renewing equipment, remodeling existing buildings, or moving to new buildings.
  • Alternative energy: We generate power using renewable sources and purchase green power.
  • Environmental management systems: We have established a ISO 14001-certified environmental management at all our key manufacturing and distribution centers and urge our suppliers to follow the same standard.

Performance

Read about our achievements and progress in 2016/17 in the corresponding section of this CSR Report “Safeguarding the environment”.

Validation 

The CSR Steering Committee assesses the sustainability program for completeness and determines its significance to the organization’s economic, environmental, and social impact. The Committee also assesses the program in terms of effectiveness based on the yearly reporting.

Aspect boundaries

The sustainability program is defined by its relevance to the whole Sonova Group and therefore all defined fields of activity are assumed to be material to all or nearly all of the entities covered by this report. Sonova assigns each field of activity to its appropriate stage or stages of the value-creation process, from raw material supply to after-sales refurbishing or recycling. Those aspects that are also or primarily material outside the organization relate to our supply chain (human rights and labor practices, environmental program) or to the utilization of our products and services (new products and markets, e-solutions, Hear the World Foundation).