Defining our priorities

In this section we explain how we report, the concept of materiality, UN Sustainable Development Goals, UN Global Compact and finally the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

How we report

We have voluntarily reported our Company-wide non-financial performance since 2001, when we published our first online 'Operating Responsibly' report; making this our eighteenth online report. To help us meet the needs of our various stakeholders, we have established processes and internal procedures to make sure the information we report is fair, balanced, accurate and relevant to our business.

As well as this website, we report our non-financial performance in our Annual Report and Accounts and through other reporting initiatives, such as:

  1. Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Company 
  2. The CDP carbon and water disclosure projects
  3. The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Communication on Progress (COP)

The concept of materiality, long established in financial reporting, is now being applied to non-financial reporting. The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) reporting framework gives a widely accepted definition:

“A matter is material if, in the view of senior management and those charged with governance, it is of such relevance and importance that it could substantively influence the assessments of the primary intended report users with regard to the organisation’s ability to create value over the short, medium and long term.”

We have carried out a formal non-financial issues materiality assessment. Around 100 of our senior managers ranked a long list of around 50 non-financial issues for their relative materiality, both from the perspective of the Company and from that of one of their key stakeholders. Our Executive Committee discussed and approved the resulting list of the most material issues that could affect the reputation and success of our business.

None of the 50 or so issues on our long list are unimportant; this process just helps us focus on those that are of most importance to the future success of our business. It has also helped identify those issues that in future we will include in our Annual Report and Accounts and those that are better covered in this section of the website.  

Through this robust and systematic assessment, we have identified the following material issues – the order does not indicate relative importance:



Key Performance Indicator

Climate change

What we are doing to reduce our own and our customers’ greenhouse gas emissions and how we are preparing our networks for future climate change

Scope 1&2 emissions

Community engagement

How we are using our imagination and skills to work with and support the communities in which we operate

Value derived by the London Benchmarking Group (LBG) methodology

Customer satisfaction

What we are doing to meet and exceed the needs and expectations of our customers

Business-specific customer satisfaction measures

Education, skills and capabilities

How we are developing our people to meet the future needs of the business, as well as encouraging more young people to take up engineering as a career

Quality interactions with young people on STEM subjects

Employee engagement and wellbeing

How we are engaging with our people and helping them to make a more positive impact on their wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around them

Employee Engagement Index

Inclusion and diversity

How we aim to run our business with an inclusive and diverse culture, with equal opportunity to all in recruitment, career development, training and reward

Women in workforce
Ethnic minorities in workforce

Network reliability

What we are doing to make sure our gas and electricity networks deliver the reliability our customers demand

Business-specific reliability measures


How we make sure our employees, contractors and the public, as well as our infrastructure and processes, are safe

Employee lost time injury frequency rate

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2016 the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ‘transform our world’ officially came into force. These goals promote prosperity while protecting the planet. 

Business has an important role to play in helping to achieve these goals. We have reviewed the goals to see how we can best support them. 

All the goals are vitally important to the future social and environmental wellbeing of people and of the planet. However, there are eight of the SDG's that are particularly linked to our responsible business focus areas.  These are namely;

  • Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all 
  • Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

We have produced a booklet detailing some of the work we have been doing to demonstrate our commitment to these goals.

UN Global Compact

The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalisation, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.

National Grid became a signatory to the Global Compact in 2008.

In July 2019 we were pleased to reconfirm National Grid’s support of the ten principles of the Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

Paris Climate Change Agreement

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 included the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21). The Paris Climate Change Agreement is the first legally-binding climate change agreement, with 195 nations committing to limit global temperature rise to ‘two degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels’. 

National Grid fully supports the Paris Agreement. We have made our own commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, which aligns with the trajectory required to meet the two degrees Centigrade goal.

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Our performance

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Approach and governance

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