Astellas’ Path to Sustainability Vol.1: A New Materiality Matrix as a Compass to Direct our Business
For Astellas, contributing to the sustainability of society means the realization of our philosophy. To this end, we laid the groundwork for a sustainable future in our Corporate Strategic Plan 2021 (CSP2021), which we announced in May 2021, by setting a strategic goal to “Deepen our engagement in sustainability.” We further strengthened our commitment to the sustainability of both society and Astellas by identifying and prioritizing the key social issues that need to be addressed and utilizing this to create our new materiality matrix.
As Astellas continues on its path to sustainability, Shingo Iino, Ph.D., Head of the Sustainability Division at Astellas, explains the company's direction, the social issues that need to be addressed, and the action plans in place to realize its goals.
Social responsibility and sustainable enhancement of corporate value
The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) requires companies to meet the demands of their stakeholders alongside seeking their own profits. And to achieve this balance, all laws and regulations must be complied with, and social responsibilities—including accountability—must be fulfilled. On the other hand, the concept of sustainability requires human society and the global environment to coexist and mutually develop.
Therefore, to enhance corporate value in a sustainable way, it falls upon those in charge of our corporate activities to consider the global environment and society while fulfilling the company's social responsibility. I believe this is within Astellas' reach through the successful creation and implementation of a system that leverages our strengths as a corporation, allowing us to contribute to a sustainable society.
Astellas’ path to sustainability—where does it lead?
Astellas creates innovative healthcare solutions for unmet medical needs meaning our business itself is fundamentally linked to solving the issues of society and evolving sustainability across society as a whole. By continuously striving for innovative healthcare solutions and improving access to health which enables wider distribution of healthcare solutions, we can earn trust from society and build toward a sustainable future for our company.
Our people and organizational culture power the realization of sustainability. We acquire and develop talent, and cultivate an organizational culture where people can collaborate cross-functionally, achieve ambitious goals, and realize innovation. The Organizational Health Goals we set in CSP2021 aim to unite the entire company in our efforts to build an internal environment that will produce long-term superior performance.
The materiality matrix—reflecting the voices of wide-ranging stakeholders
Achieving genuine sustainability for both society and Astellas involves analyzing many social issues and identifying and prioritizing the ones that we should address. While Astellas had already identified 31 key issues, some stakeholders noted that they were too generalized and lacked individuality or did not clearly relate to the issues we needed to address.
Within this context, we reevaluated the key issues in 2022, narrowing them down to 19 to align with the demands and needs of society and the rapidly changing environment we live in. After identifying the issues, we created the materiality matrix by building the vertical axis to express “societal significance” and the horizontal axis to show the “significance for Astellas.” We prioritized 9 issues that carried particularly high importance and labeled each as a "materiality."
This new materiality matrix is essentially Astellas' compass—directing our business decisions to support and address the many issues society is facing.
Diversity of voice was an important factor for us when we created the new matrix, and to achieve this, we considered the perspectives of our external stakeholders in great detail. We conducted interviews with some of our stakeholders and acquired input from the information offered by various groups and industries, including international organizations, governments, NGOs, investors, and industry associations. We listened intently to their views on social issues and gauged their level of interest. The result was a databank of valuable opinions centered on the social issues Astellas can address best by leveraging its strengths, and the social issues considered to be a high priority. We then scored the collected opinions and data for improved reliability and objectivity.
This revised materiality matrix aligns with each of the goals laid out in CSP2021, a calculated decision to ensure that the overall direction Astellas aims to take is consistent, and that a solid link exists between Astellas' business and societal sustainability. The response to the new matrix has been positive, with multiple stakeholders noting that in many ways, the matrix defines what Astellas is all about.
Click here to read more about the materiality matrix.
Action leads to solutions—utilizing the power of our people to overcome social issues
Identifying the key issues we need to address is an important step toward a sustainable future both for our company and society as a whole; however, our journey doesn't finish there. We must take concrete action to solve the issues we have identified. We formed a cross-functional team for each of the 9 "materialities" and developed an action plan to achieve these goals by 2025. We call our action plans "Sustainability in Action”. They transcend divisions to work toward and achieve common goals.
Each employee at Astellas should understand the significance of our efforts on sustainability and be conscious of where we are on our path to a sustainable future. To that end, we are improving our internal communication to keep everyone in the loop.
In the new materiality matrix, we can see that the activities employees carry out on a daily basis are linked to identified important issues we identified. In other words, every aspect of our work to create innovative healthcare solutions—or the work that underpins the creation of such solutions—is connected to evolving sustainability. While our daily work can sometimes cloud our focus, we need to hold onto those pure feelings we all had when we joined Astellas—a strong desire to contribute to patients' health through our own efforts and abilities.
As we continue our journey to sustainability, we will drive forward as One Astellas while engaging in dialogue with our stakeholders. We will remain focused on evolving sustainability in a way that only Astellas can.
We will share our specific actions to address and solve social issues in a series of articles.