Defining sustainability

To ensure that our activities match our ambition to be the global leader in education, in 2015 we reviewed our approach to sustainability.

This sustainability review included:

  • Assessing how we create value
  • Aligning with UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Identifying our material issues

Assessing how we create value

In order to be successful in the long-term, Pearson must deliver value for society. We assessed how sustainable value creation is embedded in our business, through our short, medium and long-term strategy.

We create value for stakeholders by developing innovative products and services that enable people to make progress in their lives. As a result, our business makes an important contribution to creating peaceful societies and generating inclusive economic growth.

Our Business Model

Value creation wheel

Aligning with United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals

To have a truly transformative impact, our business must be aligned with global efforts to address the world’s biggest challenges.

2015 marked an important year for the future of our planet. Member States of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to make the world a better place by 2030, and 195 countries adopted the first-ever global climate deal.

All 17 SDGs are important and interlinked – the achievement of one depends on achievement of the others. However, we identified three where we think we can make the most impact through our business strategy.  

UNSDG Education


Ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

UNSDG Economic growth


Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

UNSDG Promote Equality


Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Identifying our material issues

In 2015 we engaged an independent third party to help us assess the material sustainability issues for our business.

Based on an analysis of the areas of most concern to our external stakeholders, and a review of our company policies, activities, and priorities, we identified a shortlist of 19 issues that are most relevant to the sustainability of our business. Through further consultation with senior leaders at Pearson, we narrowed these down to nine issues we believe are most material at this time. Finally, we consulted with external experts to confirm our prioritization.

To determine materiality, we took into account:

  • The degree of influence and immediacy of opportunity we have to tackle the issues
  • The risk posed to our business, considering what steps we are already taking to address the issues
  • The relative impact of the issues on maintaining or building our reputation and business success.