Assessing material issues

Our purpose is at the heart of our strategy and is rooted in what the firm was founded to do - to build trust in society. It’s important that we concentrate on the issues that are most relevant - or ‘material’ - for our business. This helps us to align time, resources and investment to activities where we can make the biggest impact, whether through our client work, our own operations (including our supply chain), or our community programmes.  You can view our current material issues in the matrix below, or use the filter to view by topic. Click on the individual issues to find out more about them.

Our prioritisation matrix

All of the issues within our matrix are important. However, the nature of our business and the services that we deliver means that some are currently more central to our ability to create value in line with our purpose. Our assessment reflects a particular point in time, but these important issues are dynamic and we keep the positioning under review.

About our materiality assessment


We conducted our first materiality assessment in 2011 to help us identify and prioritise material issues. This year, our research involved extensive consultation with stakeholders, through surveys and interviews with our people, alumni, the investor community, as well as ongoing feedback from clients and some additional desk based analysis. The results were discussed with members of our Executive Board and have previously formed the basis of our original Corporate Sustainability strategy. The process now underpins our ‘purpose led’ framework.

Review process

We review the matrix periodically, in consultation with different internal and external stakeholder groups, to ensure that our agenda remains relevant as the context in which we operate continues to adapt, and the material issues for our stakeholders evolve. 

In 2022 we conducted extensive desktop research to review the most relevant issues for external stakeholders, and sought feedback on material issues from our people in Q1 2022. During this period we also engaged with investors who rely on the assurance from our client audits to inform their investment decisions.  Based on this qualitative and quantitative data gathered, the matrix was updated to reflect the issues important to our stakeholders, and the impact those issues have on our business. Subsequently, as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and other geopolitical events around the world, and the unique perspective it provided to us and our stakeholders, we applied a level of judgement to reflect a renewed sense of relative importance for the issues identified.

Latest updates

Key updates that we made to the materiality matrix in 2022 include:

  • Reviewing and refreshing material issues.

  • Removing categories which reflect baseline assumptions e.g. characteristics we need in order to maintain our licence to operate such as regulatory compliance and independence.

  • Reflecting the increasing prioritisation of social and environmental issues felt by stakeholders.

  • Adding functionality to allow users to see the definitions that underpin each issue, and where they can find further information about each issue on our website.

  • Adding functionality to allow users to access previous iterations of the materiality matrix to see how issues have evolved over time.


Being transparent about our progress is a key principle that underpins our Purpose, and we aim to publish robust and comparable information to meet the varying expectations of our stakeholders. Over the years we’ve used the materiality assessment to develop new metrics and targets that align with each section of the purpose framework, which is also aligned with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) core metrics. 

We focus on the highest priority issues in our Annual Review. For stakeholders with interests in specific programmes, we provide further details about our approach, together with case studies and insights, and issue-specific disclosures such as diversity paymodern slavery or climate risk.  Our scorecard of non-financial metrics, published annually, underpins these disclosures, and the scorecard data has been externally assured by our financial auditors each year since 2012.

Contact us

Emma Cox

Emma Cox

Global Climate Leader, PwC United Kingdom

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