Sonova strives to engage in an open and transparent dialog with all its stakeholders. We actively initiate dialog through a broad range of channels as a way to promote participative and integrated decision-making. We understand how the involvement of stakeholders supports our long-term success by enhancing transparency, broadening knowledge, and generating innovative solutions.
Based on the relevant aspects of our business and products, Sonova has defined six key stakeholder groups: customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, academia, and opinion leaders. Further stakeholder groups important to Sonova are: the financial community, media, regulators, insurers, and competitors.
Sonova identifies and selects relevant stakeholders for further dialog and engagement based on our existing stakeholder-facing activities and on information gathered from internal staff interviews and management workshops. We regularly interact with our current stakeholders to define their specific interests in our activities and their influence over our decisions.
The key topics and concerns that have been raised through stakeholder engagement are product stewardship, customer satisfaction, and legal compliance. These topics and concerns are mainly raised by customers and regulators.
Our customers stand at the center of our business. Our business model is built on business-to-business (hearing care professionals, clinics, retailers) and business-to-consumer (end users, patients) customer relationships. Sonova establishes specific channels of engagement appropriate to the differing needs of each of these groups.
We ensure continuous dialog with our business-to-business customers through our sales representatives, brand tracker surveys, customer satisfaction surveys, advisory network, knowledge management and sharing, customer hotline and support, audiology conferences, online customer communities, and complaint management channels. We provide a broad range of professional training and courses that address the various specializations in the hearing care industry. We also organize e-learning seminars, road shows, face-to-face in-clinic training, and technical marketing material to help transfer our knowledge and train hearing care specialists.
We engage with end users and patients through satisfaction surveys and online consumer communities such as Hearing LikeMe.com and Advanced Bionics’ Bionic Ear Association (BEATM). HearingLikeMe.com brings together people whose lives have been touched by hearing loss. The website is visited by more than 30,000 people every month and provides those with hearing loss – as well as parents, spouses, and hearing care professionals – daily educational and inspirational news articles and videos. BEATM aims to improve the quality of life of individuals with severe-to-profound hearing loss by providing valuable information, education, and awareness on cochlear implants. As a community of hearing health professionals and cochlear implant recipients, the BEATM offers important support services to help recipients “Hear and Be HeardTM”.
The Phonak Pediatric Advisory Board was founded in 1998 to help steer Phonak’s pediatric product development and establish and recommend industry-best practices to support the needs of children with hearing loss and ensure optimal outcomes for them. Among other activities in 2016, the Pediatric Advisory Board met to discuss new e-solutions which specifically support children and their families. The Advisory Board also made a vital contribution in the organization of the 7th International Pediatric Audiology Conference “Sound Foundations”, sponsored by Phonak. The group has also produced the first of a new series of audiological resources for hearing care professionals called the Pediatric Focus.
Sonova’s employees are key to its success. We foster a spirit of innovation, shared engagement, and personal responsibility. Through our vision, we want to ensure that our employees experience their work as genuinely meaningful.
Sonova actively engages with its employees through regular employee satisfaction surveys and through its annual appraisal process. The employee appraisal meeting is an essential process to assess satisfaction, provide feedback, and define expectations for behavior and performance. It supports each employee’s personal and professional development and helps to build trusting relationships by providing a format for open dialog.
Sonova has 17,902 registered shareholders, who together own around 68% of the total shares. Shareholders’ interests are represented by the Board of Directors, which sets and oversees the general direction of the company.
We publish an Annual Report for shareholders and other stakeholders, and hold an annual General Shareholders’ Meeting, which provides a forum for discussion and debate as well as an opportunity to vote on compensation for management and the Board of Directors. Each share entered in the share register with a voting right entitles the holder to one vote in the General Shareholders’ Meeting.
Suppliers are an integral part of Sonova’s value chain. Our relationship with our suppliers is governed by Sonova’s Group Supplier Principles (SGSP), which are based on a range of international standards, customer requirements, and industry characteristics.
We assess all new suppliers on their management systems. We regularly audit and visit suppliers and inspect their management capabilities through employee interviews and on-site inspections.
Academia and opinion leaders
Sonova’s know-how and history of innovation is reflected in its strong partnerships with leading academic institutions and opinion leaders around the world.
We collaborate intensively with universities such as the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and Lausanne, the University of Zurich, the University of Manchester (UK), the University of Cambridge (UK), the University of Oldenburg (Germany), RWTH Aachen (Germany), Vanderbilt University in Nashville (US), Northwestern University in Chicago (US), and the University of Western Ontario in Waterloo (Canada). We foster a close collaboration with these partners by offering support toward diploma theses for Master’s or PhD students. We do not just sponsor studies financially, but participate in the actual work by closely collaborating on research projects.
As a publicly listed company, Sonova pursues an open and active information policy. A governing principle of this policy is to treat all stakeholders alike and to inform them at the same time.
We actively interact with the financial community at road-shows and conferences. Sonova holds an Investor Day every year at its headquarters in Stäfa; this year’s event attracted significant interest from the international investor community, with over 100 participants. We also hold regular exchanges with representatives from the social-responsibility investment segment and participate in assessments by sustainability index authorities.
Sonova maintains a strong in-depth relationship with the media as part of its commitment to ensure transparency, dialog, and accountability for all of its activities.
Our media relations team works globally with top-tier media, general media, trade media, financial media, and the major wire services to ensure that we reach as many people as possible, creating awareness of hearing loss and of our business.
Sonova’s products are regulated medical devices, which means that the company must meet statutory patient safety standards and functional performance claims with clinical evidence.
We recognize our responsibility to share our specialist knowledge in external working groups to help define, on behalf of our customers, the regulatory principles that will ensure the highest quality standards for hearing instruments and cochlear implants.
Governments and social institutions such as the Veterans Administration in the United States and the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, as well as public and private insurance providers, all contribute to improve access to hearing care. Sonova regularly participates in tendering procedures and offers its products and services to help insurers receive the best hearing value for their money.
Sonova’s competitors aim to gain market share. This competition generates improved service for customers and drives Sonova to push yet further the limits of technology. We are committed to fair competition.