The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Samsung SDI promotes employee development

Founded in 1970, Samsung SDI produces advanced materials for use in the IT and automotive industries, secondary batteries for ESS (energy storage systems), semiconductors, displays, and photovoltaics. Samsung SDI constantly seeks to lay the groundwork for its employees’ continuous growth  Tweet This!, to secure the differentiated technological capabilities required to lead industrial development.

This case study is based on the 2018 Sustainability Report by Samsung SDI published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Samsung SDI conducts consistent capacity building training for its employees to improve their expertise, while enhancing the efficiency of employee training through ongoing investments in this area. In order to promote employee development Samsung SDI took action to:

  • launch a Human Resource Development Centre
  • operate a Facilities Training Centre
  • strengthen technological leadership
  • train job experts
  • implement global capacity-building programmes
  • provide education to overseas personnel

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Samsung SDI identified a range of material issues, such as promotion of a safe workplace culture, enhancement of product safety evaluations and managements, responsible mineral sourcing, energy conservation and use of renewable energy. Among these, promoting employee development stands out as a key material issue for Samsung SDI.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Samsung SDI engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement



·      Customer visits

·      QBR (Quarterly Business Review) meetings

·      QTR (Quarterly Technical Review) meetings

·      Website

Partner Companies





·      Purchase portal system

·      SSP (Samsung SDI Partner’s Association) meetings

·      Supplier meetings

·      Visits to partner companies by the CEO and senior executives



·      Labour-Management Council

·      Open Counselling Centre

·      Management briefings

·      Satisfaction surveys

·      Culture Leader

·      SDI Talk

·      Global SDI Pick!

·      Newsletters

Industry Associations, Universities & Research Centres


·      Active participation in associations and societies including the Korea Battery Industry Association

·      R&D (Open innovation)

·      Joint cooperation programmes

Local Community & Civic Organisations


·      Local Community Council

·      Social contributions

·      Sisterhood relations



·      Participation in national projects

·      Operation of joint cooperative programmes

·      Organisation of conferences and meetings

Shareholders/ Investors


·      General Meetings

·      IR earnings conference calls

·      IR road shows

·      IR conferences

·      Public notices

·      IR website

·      IR phone contact and ad hoc meetings

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Samsung SDI carried out surveys among experts on sustainability management who were external stakeholders.

What actions were taken by Samsung SDI to promote employee development?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Samsung SDI reports that it took the following actions for promoting employee development:

  • Launching a Human Resource Development Centre
  • In June 2018, Giheung HQ completed construction of the Human Resource Development Centre with language test rooms and language classrooms to enable employees to sit for exams and study foreign languages. In addition to having in-house official language test rooms, the centre offers five foreign language courses to help employees enhance their global competitiveness. In December 2018, more than 120 employees enrolled in various language courses, with more than 300 attending the Global Biz Writing Practice course designed for those who frequently communicate with Samsung SDI’s overseas corporations and customers.
  • Operating a Facilities Training Centre
  • The Facilities Training Centre that opened its doors in June 2018 in Cheonan is in charge of overall facilities education, from design to operation and maintenance. Equipped with training facilities, the centre can offer customised education to anybody when required. With core parts and modules of the equipment used in actual production sites, the centre offers theory and practice-based education with one kit per person. The centre is responsible for producing experts through improving the quality of education in the field. One difference from outside education is that in addition to regular technical education, the centre plays the role of a test bench for engineers who would like to have their ideas verified.
  • Strengthening technological leadership
  • Samsung SDI introduced the “Technical Meister” system in 2013 to cultivate employees’ job expertise and promote a culture of self-directed learning. The title Technical Meister is awarded to employees who have obtained three master technician certificates or two master technician certificates and one technician certificate. A meister is given a certificate allowance, additional points for promotion, and inducted into the hall of fame with the creation of a copperplate made in their honour. Starting with the installation of a hall of fame at the Cheongju plant in 2018, Samsung SDI has installed halls of fame at all its domestic production sites (Gumi, Cheongju, Cheonan, Ulsan). The technical meister system was expanded to all production sites in 2016 and starting in 2017, all the sites began to produce technical meisters. The system has not only improved individuals’ job performance and competitiveness but also helped raise Samsung SDI’s overall technological competence.
  • Training job experts
  • To enhance its employees’ competencies, Samsung SDI offers online and offline education programmes related to all aspects of its business such as development, technology, sales and marketing, and management support. Most notably, Samsung SDI has developed sophisticated courses on development, process technologies and facilities technologies that are offered by in-house expert instructors. Samsung SDI promotes in-house seminars and learning cell activities while launching in-house courses according to technical need. To cultivate experts in the fields of development and technology, Samsung SDI offers to employees academic training for master’s or doctorate degrees as well as non-degree training programmes through an industry-academia collaboration. For those engaged in procurement, quality, management, and finance, Samsung SDI helps employees obtain national and international certificates through a professional certificate support programme as part of its efforts to cultivate employees into experts in their respective fields.
  • Implementing global capacity-building programmes
  • Samsung SDI has launched various foreign language courses to fully support its employees’ efforts to improve their foreign language proficiency and engage in self-development. As self-development programmes, Samsung SDI runs 4- to 10-week residential intensive foreign language courses, in-house foreign language courses, OPIc courses, and global biz writing courses. The residential programmes are designed to teach not only language, but also about business practices and culture. Foreign languages taught at the courses as well as global biz writing courses, in-house foreign language courses and special OPIc lectures include English, Chinese, Japanese and strategic languages. Samsung SDI helps its employees obtain foreign language certificates. Currently, Samsung SDI runs such foreign language courses at all six of its workplaces in Korea. In addition, Samsung SDI runs local expert education programmes as key global leader training courses including intensive foreign language classes and overseas study classes. In 2018, Samsung SDI dispatched its regional experts to China, Vietnam, Germany, and Hungary. They also helped the local personnel of Samsung SDI’s overseas corporations enhance their capabilities.
  • Providing education to overseas personnel
  • More than half of SDI personnel working around the globe are foreigners. They work in Asia, Europe, the Americas and elsewhere. Previously, Samsung SDI provided the personnel working at its overseas marketing firms with local education or headquarters education. In 2018, Samsung SDI offered them more field-oriented education in Korea at places such as Suwon, Cheonan, and Ulsan production sites as well as at the headquarters. Samsung SDI invited outstanding personnel from its marketing firms in China, Taiwan, the US, and Germany among others to Korea. During the first week, Samsung SDI shared its basic principles through classes such as core DNA, companywide compliance and information security policies. During the second and third weeks, Samsung SDI provided them with technology and manufacturing site education, including intensive battery courses at its Cheonan and Ulsan production sites.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 404-1 Average hours of training per year per employee

2) Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs


Disclosure 404-1 Average hours of training per year per employee corresponds to:

Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs corresponds to:


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

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Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP



1) This case study is based on published information by Samsung SDI, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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