Sustainable business practice
Managing labour standards, human rights and risks

We place great importance on not compromising our standards of quality or causing harm to our suppliers and their workers, wherever they may be in the world. We’re committed to complying with the laws and regulations in all countries in which we operate and our director for people has board responsibility for matters relating to Corporate Responsibility. We were a founder signatory of the UN Global Compact– which sets out ten principles on labour standards, human rights, the environment and anti-corruption – and we have written to our key suppliers to advise them of our commitments to the Compact and our Code of Business Conduct.

Activity summary

We spend over £2bn each year on goods and services, our most significant categories of supply being paper, production (primarily printing) and distribution. We’ve included specific contractual commitments relating to labour standards and human rights in our key contracts in all parts of the world, particularly those relating to paper supply, printing, distribution and call centre activity. We’ve also worked with the UK book publishing industry to introduce common principles on labour standards and human rights.

We have continued our programme of visits to our key suppliers to check their compliance against both the UN Global Compact and our contractual commitments – in 2008, we have assessed locations in Australia, China, India, Japan and Mexico, and in several European countries, including Germany, Italy, Spain and Slovakia.

We hold significant volumes of personal data due to the growth of our assessment and testing business, and as more of our business moves onto digital and online formats. As part of our compliance efforts, we initiated a global data privacy programme in 2008, and recently appointed our first Chief Security Officer to oversee this and related programmes.


Code of Business Conduct We contact all our staff every year to ask them to verify that they have understood and complied with the Code, inviting them to report any concerns or breaches to our group internal audit team or via our confidential whistle-blowing helpline.

WWF-UK Forest & Trade Network Pearson cemented its commitment to ethical purchasing when it became the first major publishing group to join the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s UK Forest & Trade Network, created to bring together paper product buyers from a range of industries to pool knowledge and experience.

WWF-UK Forest & Trade Network

PREPS Pearson Education and Penguin are founding members of the Publishers’ Database for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing (PREPS), a grading system based on the model used by the WWF (above) to enable publishers to find out more easily if paper has come from legal and known origins. Penguin is now the first publisher to do this for the North American market.


Focus on: PAPER

Paper in the basic material upon which many of our businesses depend: we’ve identified its use as a key area of environmental impact for the company. We first implemented our official paper policy in June 2004 as one of the commitments we made following our signing of the UN Global Compact, and we’ve engaged in a number of ways to cut our paper use, source our supplies as responsibly as we can, and put something back to replace what we use.

The Penguin Group has chosen to source paper with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) paper certification where possible, meaning the paper must come from legal sources, must not come from an area of high conservation value and must not contain genetically modified material. The FSC Chain of Custody tracks timber from the forest to the final product, so that there is full traceability. Our use of FSC certified papers is increasing, but only a small percentage of the world’s forests are currently covered by any certification scheme, and only 8% of the world’s production forests are FSC certified. It is important that we use our buying power to use FSC papers where possible, as this makes it clear to the market that there is a demand for forest products that come from certified well managed sources.

By moving to using papers made from groundwood (the whole tree, not just selected parts of it), Pearson Education has been able to reduce the wood it uses by 26,000 tons, the equivalent of 450,000 trees. The initiative helped to save $4million.

We have purchased digital reading devices for Penguin’s sales force (US) and editorial and marketing staff (Australia, US and UK) to reduce paper use, such as Sony Readers and Amazon Kindles

Penguin Classics is supporting the Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign in the US with major marketing, publicity, and in-store promotions that increase public awareness and participation. The programme has already planted 1.4 million trees in Brazil, and every dollar donated to the conservancy will put another tree in the ground.

Many offices across Pearson now configure their network printers to double-sided printing as a default setting, helping to reduce office paper consumption, while many others now use recycled copy paper and are seeking to use fewer personal and more group printers.

Penguin and the Woodland Trust are creating a new wood, Penguin Wood, in a national forest in the Midlands, England. Nearly 400 members of staff at Penguin UK went on a charity walk in aid of the Woodland Trust ‘Trees for Schools’ campaign, raising £25,000 for the trust.


In 2008, Pearson and Penguin Canada were recognised for their paper choices with a Sustainability Award from Atlantic Packaging, acknowledging that their choices saved 10,389 mature trees in 2008, the equivalent of five American Football fields. Over 60% of Pearson Japan (Kirihara)'s material is now printed on recycled paper, and soy bean ink has been used in some of the business' publications since 2001.

A few words from… Rich Glicini

"Although Pearson is focused on reducing the company's harmful impact on the environment, we also find that our environmental initiatives almost always yield cost savings that further align our long-term goals with those of our stakeholders. For instance, our recent investments in high-definition video conferencing and online virtual meeting tools will reduce our carbon footprint while at the same time decreasing our business travel expenses. In addition to these benefits, we believe providing these meeting alternatives makes our people more productive and supports them in their quest for balance between their professional and personal lives.

We don't see a conflict between being a profitable business and being a good corporate citizen. Taking concrete steps to streamline and strengthen our operations while also reducing our environmental footprint is exactly the sort of win-win situation we like to pursue."

Rich Glicini

Rich Glicini Senior vice president, human resources, Pearson Inc. and environmental director, US