in addition to profitability, the responsibilities of those who manage modern firms include a series of functions that the business must carry out in relation to its employees and society as a whole. This is why I am presenting our 2016/17 Sustainability Report, which describes the commitment of the IMA Group to all our stakeholders.
The report summarises the growing sustainability of the activities of the IMA Group, whose continued expansion during 2016 confirms the validity of the strategic decisions made in recent years.
Once again, the economic data for 2016 highlights growth founded on the improvement of internal performance, as well as the targeted acquisition of highly specialised businesses already positioned for the future.
However you look at it, technological innovation and the quality and reliability of the products and services supplied by IMA remain the principal growth drivers, in a market characterized by strong global demand.
When describing the strategies of the IMA Group, it is natural to consider the economic aspects and the complete satisfaction of those who invest in IMA. However, in practice, our Group also dedicates considerable attention to the social and environmental aspects, complying with the principles of sustainable development and Corporate Social Responsibility by attaching paramount importance to all matters linked to the Environment, Health, Safety and Human Rights.
For example, IMA defined the majority of the projects underpinning the IMA Digital system during 2016, which will lead to full implementation of the Industry 4.0 model.
In response to the demand for innovation from our customers, the projects presented at Interpack 2017 reflected the commitment of IMA to evolve towards the Smart Factory and Smart Products, via services and organizational activities that are also increasingly Smart.
At the same time, we commenced a constructive debate with the world of work in order to understand better the forces in play during the fourth industrial revolution, considering for example the effects on employment that may be mitigated by improving the skills of workers.
Over the past several years, IMA has made progress in reporting the sustainability performance of the Group, well ahead of the mandatory regulations introduced at European level. In particular, at the end of 2016, Italy transposed into national legislation the European Directive that requires large undertakings and public-interest entities to disclose non-financial information from January 2018.
The following pages set out the various achievements and results obtained by the Group in the economic, social and environmental fields.
With respect to previous editions, the 2016 report includes a number of innovations:
the scope of reporting has been expanded to all productive companies within the IMA Group throughout the world;
as part of listening and talking to our stakeholders, we also carried out a survey involving them, in order to identify the most significant sustainability issues;
based on this effort, the materiality analysis was updated: the picture that emerged confirms the constant attention paid by IMA to the creation of shared values, managing the Group’s reputation and the responsibilities associated with constantly offering excellent, innovative and high value-added products and services. The focus on our human capital, in terms of health, safety and professional growth, and the development of our communities represent the most significant social aspects. Further: other key aspects addressed include energy efficiency and the reduction of environmental impact, the adoption of sustainability criteria for every process and throughout the entire value chain, and business integrity.
Our commitment over the coming years will be to grow the Group in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner. This choice confirms that the principles and logic behind Sustainable Development are not in conflict with our objectives for profitability; in fact, if viewed as a value opportunity for the business and our stakeholders, they may represent an important driver of growth.
Please enjoy reading our report. We look forward to receiving all your advice and constructive criticism.