Corporate Responsibility

Our Responsibility as a Business

We want to do business responsibly – in our economic environment, with our employees, in society and in our treatment of the environment. This is an integral part of Bertelsmann’s corporate culture.

Strategic Development of Corporate Responsibility

The aim of corporate responsibility (CR) at Bertelsmann is to reconcile the economic interests of the Group with social and environmental interests, in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders.

CR Management at Bertelsmann

Under the leadership of Group Chief Human Resources Officer Immanuel Hermreck, the Bertelsmann Corporate Responsibility Council was constituted in March 2015. The CR Council encourages cross-divisional exchange at higher management levels and supports work on major CR issues in the decentralized corporate structures.

To this end, last year seven CR topics that are particularly relevant from a CR perspective were spotlighted: fair working conditions, freedom of the press, protection of media users and customers, education, ecoefficiency, health, and diversity. For each topic, a cross-divisional and internationally staffed working group was set up. First, external stakeholder requirements were analyzed and, based on this, next steps for each topic were jointly developed. The “Advancing CR at Bertelsmann” project will be continued in 2016.

Comprehensive Online CR Reporting

Bertelsmann’s corporate website creates transparency about Bertelsmann and its companies’ responsible conduct. The interactive index in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines on sustainability reporting describes the company’s social and environmental performance indicators. In addition, numerous CR projects and initiatives from across the Bertelsmann world are presented.

image CR reporting

The New Bertelsmann University

Bertelsmann’s most important resource and asset are its dedicated and highly qualified employees. Therefore, Bertelsmann supports the employees not only in their development, but also in knowledge management and skill building, to prepare them for the requirements of their jobs – at present and into the future. The new Bertelsmann University offers innovative state-of-the-art learning solutions and formats that systematically promote and develop the expertise of employees and executives, worldwide and across divisions and hierarchies. The first milestone was set in 2015 with the introduction of a comprehensive digital learning offer, which will give all Bertelsmann employees worldwide free access to more than 6,800 online video courses in the future.

Our Duty: Ethics & Compliance

Bertelsmann has established a comprehensive Ethics & Compliance program. Based on the Essentials, the cornerstone document is the Bertelsmann Code of Conduct, which sets out the commitment to ethical and lawful conduct for all employees. Further guidelines have been issued on key topics, such as anticorruption, competition law, foreign trade and business partner compliance. Staff are fully trained and advised, and compliance violations are not tolerated. Suspected violations are promptly investigated and resolved. The effectiveness of the program is ensured by regular evaluation and risk-oriented adjustments.

be green | Protecting the Environment and Climate

We depend on natural resources for the production of books, magazines and brochures, as well as for the production of movies, television and digital formats, and for the provision of services and technology-based business solutions. Climate protection, including energy and resource efficiency, is therefore an important aspect of our corporate responsibility. In 2015, Bertelsmann published its fourth carbon footprint. The environmental data collected from around the world reflects the company’s transformation. For instance, the further decline in the CO2-intensive print businesses and the increase in digitization led to a significant reduction in the environmental indicators.

cover be green

Integrated Health Management

The health of its employees is important to Bertelsmann. Therefore, Germany-wide health standards were introduced in March 2015. A total of 223 Group companies have implemented a working group on the topic of health or will do so in the months ahead. About 33,000 employees, or around 70 percent of all employees in Germany, already have access to the Employee Assistance Program. From 2016, the issue of health will be an integral part of management training. The new health management website provides all 47,000 employees in Germany with access to health information.

Refugee Assistance

The influx of refugees not only strongly influenced the content of editorial reports in 2015, but also triggered a wave of social commitment at many Bertelsmann locations: For example, a donation fund was set up to provide red tape-free support for volunteers, and apprentices in the Group created a website for coordinating refugee aid locally. Many in-kind donations were made. Employees became sponsors and got involved in refugee camps and clothing projects, and large-scale fundraisers such as the RTL Spendenmarathon (telethon) as well as appeals in “Stern” magazine made it possible to finance urgently needed aid. In April 2016, Bertelsmann will launch an integration project in Gütersloh with the aim of preparing young refugees for the dual training system through intensive tutoring. In all divisions and at all hierarchical levels, Bertelsmann employees are working to ensure a welcoming culture and the integration of refugees.

image refugees