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We believe Pearson has a unique opportunity to make a positive impact in those three focus areas – literacy, learning outcomes and competitiveness.

In addition, we adopt a broad and holistic definition of ‘responsible business’ that captures a series of priorities that are common across many industries and individual companies. These include commitments to:

  • deliver against stakeholder expectations on the key area of climate change and to seek to make better use of resources;
  • extend our principles on labour standards, human rights and environmental responsibility to include our suppliers and business partners;
  • ensure that our products and services are appropriate in content to the age and location of the student and are safe to use;
  • provide a safe, healthy workplace, where our employees are able to realise their own individual potential and aspirations and where there is respect for their privacy, dignity and life outside work;
  • provide opportunities for Pearson people to be good citizens and to get involved in their local communities.

Responsible business practice cuts across all aspects of our company and our focus is to integrate this into the way we manage our businesses.

Highlights of our activities in 2011 include:

Environment: Climate change and avoiding deforestation

Climate change remains a focus for us as one of the most serious issues facing the planet. Minimising our own environmental impact is not just the right thing to do; it is fundamental to our future as a sustainable business and can deliver cost savings too.

We continue to be climate neutral, a commitment which has helped focus the company on carbon reduction.

Our second focus area is forests. As a purchaser of paper and newsprint for our books, magazines and newspapers, security and sustainability of supply are very important to us. We have focused on sustainability sourcing and being more efficient in how we use paper.

  • Pearson was named the 33rd largest purchaser of renewable energy in the United States in the US Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership list. We offset 100% of the electricity we use in North America through the purchase of wind power credits primarily in Iowa. Our UK buildings where we are responsible for purchasing utilities are powered by green electricity.
  • Our first wind turbine became operational at our Owatonna office and printing centre in Minnesota.
  • Pearson businesses in the UK and Australia are certified against ISO 14001, the environmental management standard. In the UK, we are also accredited against the Carbon Trust Standard.
  • We expanded the Pearson/FT Rainforest in Costa Rica and helped the Woodland Trust launch Woodland Carbon to offset emissions we could not eliminate through other means.
  • The Financial Times has reduced the volume of newsprint and magazine papers it uses by 45% in four years. A key initiative has been to reduce the base weight of the papers used.
  • Penguin Group in the UK was ranked seventh in the Sunday Times 2011 Best Green Companies list (up from eleventh in 2010).

Our customers, our people and our communities

Highlights of our activities in 2011 include:

  • Pearson continued with its programme of Student Advisory Boards, providing an opportunity for students to input and influence our strategy in return for mentoring and company internships.
  • During 2011, Pearson operations in the UK became accredited against ISO 18001, the international health and safety standard.
  • Neo, Pearson’s employee collaboration platform, won the Engage Employees category of the Jive Awards 2011. On average, 18,000 users log on each day.
  • Pearson was again named joint winner of the FTSE Executive Women Award and included in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women, both run in partnership with Opportunity Now.
  • Pearson in the US has been included in Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies list for its eleventh year and again by the Human Rights Campaign which campaigns for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
  • The Pearson Diversity Summer Internship Programme won the Race for Opportunity (the UK’s largest race equality organisation) Award for ‘Widening the Talent Pool’.
  • Providing an opportunity for our employees to share in the success of the company through owning a part of it is important to us. All our people have the opportunity to acquire and hold Pearson shares through participation in our employee share programmes.
  • The fourth annual Penguin walk took place and almost 1,000 Penguin and DK employees from across the globe – from the US to South Africa, from China to New Zealand – joined forces to raise money for local charities.
  • The Financial Times seasonal appeal was the most successful ever, raising $4.9 million on behalf of Sightsavers, the charity that fights blindness in the developing world.

Values, principles and behaviour

The bedrock of corporate responsibility is the culture of the company. We are defined by our values – in everything we do, we aspire to be brave, imaginative and decent.

Our values are underpinned by our code of conduct that covers, among other things, individual conduct, the environment, employees, community and society. We make sure everyone is aware of and understands the code. Once a year, everyone working for Pearson gets a copy, either electronically or on paper, and is asked to read it; to confirm to the Pearson CEO that they have read it and understood it; and in doing so, to provide a check that the company complies with it. The code forms part of induction and an online training module is available. If anyone has concerns, these can be raised with a line manager or through a free, confidential telephone line/website.

Pearson has a zero tolerance policy towards bribery and corruption. During 2011, we reviewed our approach to combating bribery and corruption reflecting changes in legislation. An updated policy has been introduced setting out our standards; we carry out risk assessments and have a network of designated managers across the business responsible for compliance with our policy.

We are committed to making sure our people understand how we are doing as a company, including how world trends might affect both them and the businesses. This means providing comprehensive relevant information in a variety of ways – including regular presentations from senior executives – and consulting where appropriate so that we can learn and take into account the views of our people. We will always aim to seek the best candidate for a role: career progression will be without regard for race, gender, age, physical ability, religion or sexual orientation; and we will continue to monitor and benchmark our progress on diversity and inclusion.

External benchmarks

One way we assess how we are doing as a responsible business is to maintain our position in key indices and benchmarks of social responsibility:

Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes Global sector leader
BITC Corporate Responsibility Index Platinum Platinum
(sector leader)
Inclusion in FTSE4Good Yes