Be a trusted partner

Our 2020 Sustainability plan is built around three pillars: Be a trusted partner, Reach more learners, and Shape the future of education. This section explains ‘Be a trusted partner’.

We seek to operate responsibly, ethically, and transparently in everything we do. This is the foundation for establishing and maintaining the trust of our shareholders, employees, suppliers, customers, learners, and partners, and for earning our license to operate in communities around the world.

Pillar summary

The table below summarizes the areas of our operations covered by our ‘Be a trusted partner’ pillar. Each of these areas are explained in more detail in the our 2015 repoert below.

View the Sustainability report 2015

Operate responsibly, ethically, and transparently

We maintain the highest level of ethical conduct in all of our company’s activities. We encourage an open and honest culture, guided by our values and Code of conduct.


  • Culture and values
  • Code of conduct
  • Raising concerns
  • Limiting bribery and corruption
  • Human rights
  • Good governance
  • Risk management
  • Public policy

Treat learners, customers, and partners with integrity and honesty

We treat our learners, customers, and other partners with respect and dignity by implementing high standards of transparency, safety, and care, and by ensuring our supply chain partners do the same.


  • Safeguarding and protecting learners
  • Customer experience
  • Product safety
  • Delivering relevant and appropriate content
  • Data privacy and information security
  • Influencing our supply chain

Respect and progress our employees

In 2015, we had on average 37,265 employees across our global businesses.

Our success depends on an engaged, talented, and incentivized workforce. We take care to nurture our employees, develop their skills, and empower them to fulfill their potential. We encourage an open, honest, and supportive work environment that values diversity, and where employees can gain exposure to new ways of seeing, thinking, and working.


  • Listening, collaborating, and communicating
  • Talent management and development
  • Learning opportunities
  • Equality, diversity, and inclusion
  • Diversity at senior levels
  • Developing an inclusive and equal workplace
  • Employee Resource Groups
  • Health and safety
  • Corporate security
  • Wellbeing

Contribute to our communities

Making a positive difference to the communities where we operate is an inextricable part of how we think, what we do, and who we are.


  • Project Literacy - visit project
  • Book donations
  • Employee engagement
  • Volunteering
  • Giving


Our vision to protect the environment is shared by others in the world of education and many of the institutions we serve are environmental leaders both in thought and practice. We also know that our customers and learners value our commitment to being a responsible environmental citizen.

We produce a separate environmental report which includes more details about our environmental performance and activities.  We also publicly disclose our performance on carbon management, water, and forest management to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

Visit the Carbon Disclosure Project website

Over the next 18 months, our priority environmental focus areas are see chart on page 38.

Environmental Management

Our global operations are accredited against the Carbon Trust Standard. Additionally, our businesses in the UK and Australia are accredited against ISO 14001, the environmental management standard. In other parts of the world, we apply our environmental management system based on ISO 14001 standards.

Pearson has a global online data collection system in place covering utilities, water, waste, and business travel. For more information Environmental Management System Report Reporting & Policies and 2015 Environment Report

Carbon Neutrality

We have been carbon neutral since 2009. Climate neutrality helps us focus our efforts to reduce our environmental impact and carbon footprint. Through our efforts to reduce energy use and business travel, we reduced our climate footprint at the end of 2015 by 15% for Scope 1 and 2 compared to 2014.


Traditionally paper has been the single most material environmental environmental issue for Pearson reflecting our average purchase of some 300,000 metric tons each year. In 2015, as part of a wider shift to digital at Pearson, paper purchase was reduced to 146,000 metric tons. For 2016, we expect Pearson to be directly responsible for the purchase of around 70,000 metric tons of paper, reducing further in 2017. We publish an annual report on our paper purchasing activities.

View our paper purchasing activities

Learn more in our 2015 Environment report


Beyond philanthropic contributions, we direct the power of our brand, the expertise and enthusiasm of our people, and a wealth of relevant products and services to causes and issues that help remove the barriers to learning, with a primary focus on illiteracy.

Project Literacy

In 2015, we launched Project Literacy our flagship five-year social impact campaign to make significant and sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy so that all people - regardless of geography, language, race, class, or gender - have the opportunity to fulfill their potential through power of words.

Functional Literacy helps people make sense of the world, pursue life-changing opportunities, and stand up for the rights of others to do the same. With words we set the potential of individuals free, and we put the global community on a path of economic, environmental, and social prosperity. Found out more at the projectliteracy website.


We convened Project Literacy in the belief that now more than ever tackling project literacy should be on everyone’s agenda, and that it is only through cross-sector action that we can accelerate progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. By the end of 2015, more than 40 partner organizations and thousands of individuals had joined the campaign.

Book Donations

We donated 3.2 million books in 2015 to charitable organizations serving under-priviledged communities.

Employee Engagement

Our people are our best ambassadors and advocates. One way we support them is to provide opportunities to give time and money to invest in their communities. During 2015, 30% of our employees participated in social impact activities.


Every Pearson employee can take up to three days of paid leave each year to volunteer in their communities. In 2015, employees volunteered more than 10,000 hours to 278 organizations. 40% of volunteering hours were spent on projects linked to literacy.


At regular intervals, we offer match-giving contributions to support employee donations to charity, or as part of an appeal to support communities in need of disaster relief.

  • In 2015, we ran a month-long campaign to mark the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Employees who gave to charities received a 4:1 match from Pearson. The campaign raised over $430,000.
  • Over the course of the year, nearly 2,000 employees supported 1,169 charities through our match-giving program, raising almost $470,000.
  • We also launched an Employee Challenge Fund for Literacy in 2015. We invited Pearson teams and offices around the world to put forward proposals for directing Pearson funding and support to local charitable organizations

Consult our Stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement plays a vital role in informing our strategy, improving our products and services, and maximizing our positive contribution to society.

In 2015, we worked with a leading sustainability organization to develop a framework for identifying, prioritizing, and engaging stakeholders both globally and in our key markets. We collaborated with appropriate legal regional leaders to create the framework, and rolled it out to relevant teams across the business.