GRI Content Index
For the Materiality Disclosures Service, GRI Services reviewed that the GRI content index is clearly presented and the references for Disclosures 102-40 to 102-49 align with appropriate sections in the body of the report. The service was performed on the English version of the report. With the exception of the Media Sector Disclosures (MSD) and the “GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018” and “GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018” standards, all of the GRI Standards listed in the following GRI Content Index were published in 2016.
GRI 101 Foundation
GRI 102 Organizational profile
GRI 102-2 Activities, brands, products, and services
Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in about 50 countries around the world. It includes the broadcaster RTL Group, the trade book publisher Penguin Random House, the magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr, the music company BMG, the service provider Arvato, the Bertelsmann Printing Group, the Bertelsmann Education Group and Bertelsmann Investments, an international network of funds. The company had around 130,000 employees and generated revenues of €17.3 billion in the 2020 financial year. Bertelsmann stands for creativity and entrepreneurship. This combination promotes first-class media content and innovative service solutions that inspire customers around the world.
Media: Bertelsmann’s media businesses are based on the production and acquisition of high-quality information and entertainment content – the basis for creating audiovisual formats, books, magazines, music products, and online services. With the exception of books and music, these products contain advertising as well as editorial content – an additional source of revenue beyond the incomes from sales and distribution. All these products are distributed physically or digitally, directly or through service providers. Because media businesses live by the diversity of the content they produce and distribute, good networks of creative talent and content producers are a key success factor.
Services: Companies from a wide variety of industries rely on Bertelsmann’s portfolio of solutions, including telecommunication providers, energy suppliers, banks and insurance companies, as well as e-commerce, IT and Internet service providers. At the core of this segment are services Bertelsmann delivers to the end customers of its clients (“B2B2C services”). Typical support services include supply chain management solutions, as well as financial, IT, marketing, and customer relationship management services. These services combine a variety of resources: staff resources, technology, and the use of natural resources in the form of energy and materials. While hardware and standard software are sourced from third-party suppliers, software solutions for specialized applications are also developed in-house. In its print operations, Bertelsmann processes materials like paper and ink to produce media and advertising products for business customers – typically advertising flyers, books, catalogs, magazines and brochures – using offset, gravure and digital printing presses by third-party manufacturers. The most important raw material used in the CD, DVD and Blu-ray replication business is polycarbonate.
Education: With its digital education and range of services focusing on the health and technology sectors as well as in the field of university education, Bertelsmann is shaping work-related learning in the 21st century. The business models in the education segment are based first foremost on the combined deployment of highly qualified employees and innovative technology.
Bertelsmann does not offer products that are prohibited by law.
More information on brands: see GRI 102-7 .
GRI 102-4 Location of operations
Bertelsmann operates in the core business fields of media, services and education in around 50 countries worldwide.
More information on the core markets: see GRI 102-6 .
GRI 102-5 Ownership and legal form
Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA is a publicly traded but unlisted partnership limited by shares.
GRI 102-6 Markets served
The geographic core markets are Western Europe – in particular, Germany, France and the United Kingdom – and the United States. In addition, Bertelsmann is strengthening its involvement in growth markets such as Brazil, India and China and is expanding its activities in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.
More information on the core lines of business and the customers: see GRI 102-2 .
GRI 102-7 Scale of the organization
The company has approx. 130,000 employees and generated revenues of €17.3 billion in the 2020 financial year.
RTL Group is one of the leading European television groups in the broadcasting, content and digital business, with interests in 67 television channels, 10 streaming platforms, 38 radio stations, global content production companies as well as digital video networks.
Penguin Random House is, based on revenue, the world’s largest trade book publisher, with more than 300 imprints across six continents. Each year, Penguin Random House publishes about 15,000 new titles and sells around 600 million print books, e-books and audiobooks.
Gruner + Jahr is a premium magazine publisher whose portfolio includes established brands such as “Stern,” “Brigitte” and “Geo”; young brands like “Barbara,” “Guido” and “Wohllebens Welt”; and digital products in all publishing segments.
BMG is an international music company with 20 offices in 12 core music markets, now representing more than three million songs and recordings.
Arvato is an international service provider that develops and implements custom-made solutions for all kinds of business processes, for customers in a wide range of sectors in more than 40 countries. These comprise Supply Chain Solutions (SCS), Financial Solutions and IT Services. The services business also includes the CRM company Majorel, in which Bertelsmann owns 50 percent of shares.
Bertelsmann Printing Group unites Bertelsmann’s printing activities. They include all the Group’s gravure and offset printing companies in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Bertelsmann Education Group comprises Bertelsmann’s education activities. The digital education and service offerings are primarily in the healthcare and technology sectors, as well as in the university education area.
Bertelsmann Investments comprises Bertelsmann’s global start-up investments. The activities are focused on the strategic growth markets of Brazil, China, India and the United States.
Revenues by division, region and revenue stream: see GRI 201-1 .
GRI 102-8 Information on employees and other workers
|UN Global Compact principle: VI|
Employees by division
|Penguin Random House||10,871||10,663|
|Gruner + Jahr||8,777||9,273|
|Bertelsmann Printing Group||7,183||7,866|
|Bertelsmann Education Group||1,626||1,834|
Basis: employee headcount on permanent and temporary contracts, excluding trainees, as of December 31.
Employee distribution worldwide
|Other European countries||44,391||42,238|
|Central & South America||5,203||4,485|
|Australia & New Zealand||1,138||959|
Basis: employee headcount on permanent and temporary contracts, excluding trainees, as of December 31.
Employees by employment period worldwide
Basis: employee headcount on permanent and temporary contracts, excluding trainees, as of December 31.
Rounding differences may occur.
Employees by employment period and region
|Permanent men||Permament women||Permanent total||Temporary men||Temporary women||Temporary total|
|Other European countries||30.4||43.1||73.5||10.3||16.1||26.4|
|Central & South America||21.8||38.4||60.2||17.1||22.7||39.8|
|Australia & New Zealand||15.8||29.6||45.4||27.5||27.1||54.6|
Rounding differences may occur.
Number of full- and part-time employees in Germany
Information on external employees: see GRI 401 .
GRI 102-9 Supply chain
Bertelsmann has a widely ramified supply chain with only a few main suppliers, including paper and energy suppliers. Most of the services purchased are creative in nature or other services rendered by humans.
More information on value creation: see GRI 102-2 .
More information on paper procurement: see GRI 301 .
GRI 102-10 Significant changes to the organization and its supply chain
As of April 1, 2020, Bertelsmann completed its acquisition of the remaining 25 percent of the shares in Penguin Random House from co-shareholder Pearson after receiving all of the required regulatory approvals. With the completion of the share acquisition, the German-language Random House Verlagsgruppe, which already belonged to Bertelsmann, was also integrated into the overall Penguin Random House Group. Its publishing independence remains unaffected.
In November 2020, Bertelsmann announced the acquisition of the publishing group Simon & Schuster from the media company ViacomCBS for US$2.175 billion. The acquisition will strengthen Bertelsmann’s position in the global book publishing business, especially in the United States. This transaction is subject to regulatory approval. Bertelsmann will pay the purchase price with available cash and cash equivalents. The transaction is expected to close in 2021.
In December 2020, Gruner + Jahr initiated exclusive negotiations with the French media company Vivendi regarding the sale of the French Gruner + Jahr subsidiary Prisma Media. The sale to Vivendi is effective May 31, 2021.
In February 2021, RTL Group sold the US ad-tech company SpotX by concluding a binding agreement with Magnite. RTL Group closed the transaction on 30 April 2021.
GRI 102-11 Precautionary principle or approach
As a global corporation, Bertelsmann is exposed to a large number of risks, including legal and regulatory risks. The Bertelsmann risk management system (RMS) is designed for the early identification, evaluation of, and handling of internal and external risks. The Internal Control System (ICS) as an integral part of the RMS monitors the effectiveness of the implemented countermeasures. The aim of the RMS is to identify, at an early stage, material risks to the Group so that risk response measures can be taken and controls implemented. Risks are defined as possible future developments or events that could lead to a negative economic forecast or target deviation for Bertelsmann. In addition, risks can negatively affect the achievement of the Group’s strategic, operational, reporting and compliance-related objectives, and its reputation.
The risk management process is based on the internationally accepted frameworks of the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO Enterprise Risk Management – Integrated Framework and Internal Control – Integrated Framework, respectively) and is organized in subprocesses of identification, assessment, response, control, communication and monitoring. A major element of risk identification is a risk inventory that lists significant risks year by year, from the profit-center level upward. The risks are compared to risk management and control measures to determine the net risk position. Both one- and three-year risk assessment horizons are applied to enable the timely implementation of risk response measures. The basis for determining the main Group risks is the three-year period, similar to medium-term corporate planning. Risk assessment is the product of the estimated negative impact on Group free cash flow should the risk occur and the estimated probability of occurrence. Risk monitoring is conducted by Group management on an ongoing basis. The RMS, along with its component ICS, is constantly undergoing further development and is integrated into ongoing reporting to the Bertelsmann Executive Board and Supervisory Board. Corporate Risk Committee meetings are convened at regular intervals to ensure compliance with statutory and internal requirements.
One of the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact, which Bertelsmann has supported as a member since 2008, is decisive action against corruption. By reporting in accordance with the GRI Standards, Bertelsmann also fulfills its obligation to state, in an annual Communication on Progress , what anti-corruption measures were taken.
GRI 102-12 External initiatives
At the Group level, Bertelsmann supports the following external initiatives and their principles. In addition, Bertelsmann companies are involved in other external initiatives at the local level.
- United Nations Global Compact: Bertelsmann has been a member (“signatory” option) of the UN Global Compact since 2008.
- UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): As a member of the UN Global Compact, Bertelsmann supports the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015.
- OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: Bertelsmann follows the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
- United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights: Bertelsmann is committed to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
- International Labour Organization (ILO): Bertelsmann complies with the ILO core labor standards.
- Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): Since 2011, Bertelsmann has based its Corporate Responsibility reporting on the currently valid international reporting framework issued by the GRI. The Group has reported in accordance with the GRI Standards since 2017.
- Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO): The risk management process is based on the internationally accepted COSO frameworks.
- German Corporate Governance Code (DCGK): The recommendations and suggestions contained in the German Corporate Governance Code, as amended on December 16, 2019, that entered into force on March 20, 2020, serve as guidelines for Bertelsmann.
In addition, Bertelsmann participates in relevant non-financial ratings and rankings in which its management of non-financial matters is evaluated by third parties. In 2020, the company was able to improve its status in the EcoVadis CR ratings from Gold to Platinum. Bertelsmann and scored a B (“Above Sector Average”) in the CDP’s Climate Change 2020 rating.
GRI 102-13 Membership of associations
Memberships of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA
AGP - Arbeitsgemeinschaft zur Förderung der Partnerschaft in der Wirtschaft, Kassel
American Chamber of Commerce in Germany e. V., Frankfurt a. M.
Atlantik Brücke e. V., Berlin
BDI - Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie: Förderkreis der deutschen Industrie, Berlin
BDI - Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie: Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft, Berlin
Charta der Vielfalt, Berlin
Deutsch-Französische Industrie- und Handelskammer, Paris
ICC Germany e. V., Berlin
econsense - Forum Nachhaltige Entwicklung der Deutschen Wirtschaft e. V., Berlin
Fördergesellschaft FH Bielefeld e. V.
Freunde und Förderer der Staatsoper Unter den Linden e. V., Berlin
Freunde und Förderer der Stiftung Jüdisches Museum Berlin e. V.
GUG - Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte, Frankfurt a. M.
Gesellschaft für Westfälische Wirtschaftsgeschichte e. V., Dortmund
Goethe Institut, München
Gütersloher Verkehrsverein e. V.
Humboldt Universitätsgesellschaft, Berlin
Responsible Media Forum, London
Schmalenbach-Gesellschaft für Betriebswirtschaft e. V., Köln
Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, Essen
Stiftung Familienunternehmen, München
Stiftung Lesen, Mainz
Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Kuratorium Museumsinsel, Berlin
UN Global Compact, New York
UnternehmensForum e. V., Ingelheim
Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie, Berlin
Westfälisch-Lippische Universitätsgesellschaft, Bielefeld
Wirtschaft und Wissenschaft für OWL e. V., Bielefeld
Wirtschaftliche Gesellschaft für Westfalen und Lippe e. V., Münster
Wirtschaftsinitiative Kreis Gütersloh e. V.: Pro Wirtschaft GT
Wittenberg-Zentrum für Globale Ethik e. V.
GRI 102 Strategy
GRI 102-14 Statement from senior decision-maker
See Chairman's Foreword .
GRI 102-15 Key impacts, risks, and opportunities
A number of non-financial risks are associated with the CR topics that are relevant for Bertelsmann. These risks can arise from the company’s own business activities or from its business relationships, and can affect the company or its surroundings and stakeholders.
As defined in the German CSR Directive Implementation Act, the major non-financial aspects where risks can occur are related to environmental, employee and social issues, respect for human rights, and the fight against corruption and bribery. For the non-financial matters defined in the German Commercial Code – environmental, employee and social matters, respect for human rights, and the fight against corruption and bribery – no significant risks were identifiable as part of the 2020 reporting (see Combined Non-financial Statement in the Combined Management Report for the 2020 Financial Year, pp. 44-50 ).
Beyond this, there are also risks associated with the CR topics relevant to Bertelsmann that are connected with the company’s business activities, business relationships, and products and services, but that are not very likely to have serious impacts. The following risk assessment focuses on these CR risks.
CR Risks for Bertelsmann and its surroundings
CR Risks for Bertelsmann: CR risks that may arise from Bertelsmann as a company include increasing business customer requirements stemming from a range of non-financial topics, the nonfulfillment of which may result in revenue losses. CR issues are increasingly subject to statutory regulations, which can lead to noncompliance penalties linked to loss of trust in various stakeholder groups. Disruption in business processes, such as bottlenecking in the procurement of paper or energy, can arise due to a resource scarcity, exacerbated in particular in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. In human resources, risks may arise due to inadequate working conditions, with implications such as decreased employee motivation and productivity, inadequate skills due to lack of training, increased illness, or increased staff turnover. Developments in media and social policy, such as in the area of press freedom, also contain potential risks for Bertelsmann’s businesses.
CR Risks for Bertelsmann’s surroundings: Bertelsmann’s activities, including the supply chain, also have repercussions for the company’s surroundings, environment and stakeholders. For instance, working conditions have a direct and indirect impact on the well-being of employees, their individual opportunities, and their family environment. During the coronavirus pandemic, in particular, protecting the health of employees, e.g., by means of hygiene and protection concepts or work-from-home arrangements, is of major importance. Bertelsmann’s business operations also have a reciprocal relationship with the local communities where they operate and with global society. Corruption, for example, can impede economic development, contribute to the continuation and growth of poverty, and reduce the equality of opportunity. With regard to human rights, Bertelsmann’s journalistic conduct, its creative independence, and its treatment of data in particular affect the state of public information, freedom of opinion, self-determination and democracy. In the environment, the use of resources such as paper influences the survival, development and diversity of ecological systems, and with them, sustainable living conditions. The company contributes to global warming through the direct and indirect emission of greenhouse gases.
Finally, all risks caused by Bertelsmann – and the possible negative impacts on its environment – can also cause risks for the company, affecting such factors as reputation, attractiveness as an employer or business partner, litigation, and inclusion in “do not source” lists and indexes.
GRI 102 Ethics and integrity
GRI 102-16 Values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior
|UN Global Compact principles: I-X|
The Bertelsmann Essentials describe the company’s sense of purpose, common goals, and core values. The values of Creativity & Entrepreneurship are an integral part of daily business activities at Bertelsmann. Through their interaction, they reinforce each other and thus form the cornerstones of Bertelsmann’s corporate culture, which relies on participation and partnership. The Bertelsmann Essentials are a prerequisite for a corporate culture in which employees, management and shareholders work together in a successful, respectful and trusting manner. In the spirit of the Essentials, Bertelsmann is mindful of the impact it has on employees, society, the business environment and the natural environment, and strives to make a positive difference.
The Bertelsmann Code of Conduct is a globally binding guideline for all employees that defines standards for ethical and lawful conduct within the company and toward business partners and the public. Everyone in the company – employees, the Executive Board and Supervisory Board – is obliged to adhere to the principles stipulated in it. The Code of Conduct is not only a guide to appropriate decision-making, but also provides information about the options for seeking advice in the company, and for confidentially and securely expressing concerns about possible misconduct.
In addition, the Bertelsmann Supplier Code of Conduct obligates business partners that work for, with, or on behalf of Bertelsmann to adhere to minimum compliance and ethics standards outlined in the Bertelsmann Code of Conduct. Bertelsmann also requires its business partners to pass these minimum requirements along their own value chain to any third parties (e.g., subcontractors) they may use to fulfill their contractual obligations with Bertelsmann. In the event of breaches of the Supplier Code of Conduct, Bertelsmann reserves the right to make appropriate responses corresponding to the severity of the breach, which may include contract termination.
GRI 102-17 Mechanisms for advice and concerns about ethics
At Bertelsmann, various options are continuously available to employees, business partners and third parties for seeking advice or using confidential and secure channels to express concerns about possible misconduct. Contact points include the Integrity & Compliance department, an online whistleblowing system at www.reportconcerns.com , which can be reached via the divisional intranets as well, and external ombudspersons appointed by Bertelsmann. All reports are investigated to ensure an adequate response to compliance violations.
More information on Compliance: see GRI 205 .
GRI 102 Governance
GRI 102-18 Governance structure
The pursuit of responsible corporate governance is part of the Bertelsmann identity and an important element of its corporate culture. Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA is a capital-market-oriented, but unlisted company, and as such is not required to issue a declaration pursuant to section 161 of the German Stock Corporation Act stating that it complies with the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code. Nevertheless, the recommendations and suggestions contained in the German Corporate Governance Code, as amended on December 16, 2019, that entered into force on March 20, 2020, serve as guidelines for Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA. Deviations from the provisions of the German Corporate Governance Code relate primarily to Bertelsmann’s shareholder structure, in particular to those recommendations and suggestions in the Code that apply mainly to publicly held enterprises with a larger number of shareholders.
Statutory Bodies of the Company
The statutory bodies of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA are the General Meeting, the Supervisory Board and Bertelsmann Management SE as a general partner. Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA and Bertelsmann Management SE each have their own Supervisory Boards.
Tasks and Decision-making Processes
The Supervisory Board of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA supervises the management of the business by the general partner and uses its extensive information and control rights for this purpose. In addition, the Supervisory Boards advise the Executive Board on strategic matters and significant transactions. The Executive and Supervisory Boards of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA work in close, trusting cooperation and are able to reconcile the demands of effective corporate governance with the need for rapid decision-making processes. Fundamental matters of corporate strategy and their implementation are discussed openly and coordinated in joint sessions. The Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA and Bertelsmann Management SE shareholders exercise their rights and vote at the respective General Meetings.
The Supervisory Board of Bertelsmann Management SE has formed an Personnel Committee and a Program Committee, and the Supervisory Board of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA has formed an Audit and Finance Committee and a Working Group of Employee and Management Representatives. The Audit and Finance Committee of the Supervisory Board of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA addresses, among other things, the accounting process and the effectiveness of the risk monitoring and risk management system, the internal control system, and the internal auditing system. It also addresses issues relating to compliance, in particular the effectiveness and proper functioning of the compliance organization and related matters of integrity within the Group, and reviews the non-financial reporting.
GRI 102-20 Executive-level responsibility for economic, environmental, and social topics
The body responsible for the strategic development of corporate responsibility (CR) at Bertelsmann is the CR Council. The CR Council is comprised of high-ranking executives from the divisions as well as Bertelsmann’s Chief HR Officer, who chairs the council. It regularly deals with Group-wide CR topics related to the corporate strategy, the further anchoring of CR in the divisions, and the cross-divisional coordination of CR activities.
At the Group level, the Corporate Responsibility (CR) department, a central staff function of the HR executive portfolio, coordinates and supports the work of the CR Council. It does so in close cooperation with other Group functions such as Financial Reporting, Risk Management, Investor Relations, Communications, Legal, Integrity & Compliance, and employee representations. The CR department is also responsible for CR reporting and the processing of CR ratings and rankings at the Group level, and coordinates the Group’s stakeholder dialog as well as internal networks and consulting projects on a wide range of CR topics. It also carries responsibility for Bertelsmann's environmental and climate management as well as the Group-wide development of the topic of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
Rooted in the company structure that has evolved at Bertelsmann over the decades, the principle of delegating responsibility applies for CR implementation across the Group. Since Bertelsmann’s local Managing Directors know their businesses and the social and ecological environment they operate in best, specific CR measures and projects are locally implemented. Bertelsmann’s corporate divisions and companies have their own structures and processes in place for this, in accordance with local requirements.
Responsibilities at Executive Board level are also presented in the respective management approaches.
GRI 102-22 Composition of the highest governance body and its committees
In the 2020 financial year, women comprised 23 percent (previous year: 23 percent) of the Supervisory Board. The average age of Supervisory Board members was 59 (previous year: 58). 77 percent (previous year: 77 percent) of the Supervisory Board members were German, while 23 percent (previous year: 23 percent) were of non-German nationality.
GRI 102-23 Chair of the highest governance body
The respective duties and responsibilities of the General Meeting, the Supervisory Board, and Bertelsmann Management SE are clearly defined and are strictly separated from each other. Simultaneous membership on the Executive Board of Bertelsmann Management SE on the one hand, and on the Supervisory Board of Bertelsmann Management SE or the Supervisory Board of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA on the other, is excluded.
GRI 102 Stakeholder engagement
GRI 102-40 List of stakeholder groups
Bertelsmann reaches more than one billion people worldwide with its content, brands and formats. The company interacts with a variety of internal and external stakeholders: with employees and their representatives, business partners, consumers, journalists, creative talent, content producers, investors, political decision-makers and representatives of government agencies, associations, and non-governmental organizations.
GRI 102-41 Collective bargaining agreement
|UN Global Compact principle: III|
The Code of Conduct and the Supplier Code of Conduct (see GRI 102-16 ) reaffirm the right to freedom of association and the right to engage in collective bargaining, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, for all employees of Bertelsmann companies as well as those of business partners.
GRI 102-42 Identifying and selecting stakeholders
On the one hand, Bertelsmann is in dialog with stakeholders who have a strong influence on the company’s business, social or environmental performance, or on the regulatory framework that governs its activities. And on the other, the Group seeks exchange with stakeholders who are significantly affected by its economic, social or environmental contributions and impacts.
GRI 102-43 Approach to stakeholder engagement
In its day-to-day business, Bertelsmann is in regular contact with journalists, investors and customers through its press offices, investor relations department and service centers. Beyond daily press interaction and the many events – most of them digital in 2020 given the coronavirus pandemic – that Bertelsmann and its divisions organize, the Annual Press Conference on year-end results and the communications accompanying the publication of the Interim Report as well as quarterly figures represent proven formats for contact with journalists, investors, and the media. Because capital market financing is a major element in the Group’s financing strategy, transparency vis-à-vis the capital market is of great importance for the company’s financial security and independence.
With the Combined Management Report in the Bertelsmann Annual Report 2020 (Financial Information, pp. 44-50) matters related to Corporate Responsibility (CR) are reported in the Combined Management Report. As part of so-called CR relevance analyses, Bertelsmann regularly determines which CR topics should be primarily focused on. Inside the company, selected top executives, experts from the divisions, and employee representatives are surveyed; externally, the analysis covers business partners, potential employees, bankers, journalists, and politicians.
For more information on Bertelsmann’s stakeholders: see GRI 102-40.
More information on the various dialog formats the company maintains to promote regular exchange with employees and their representatives: see GRI 402 .
GRI 102-44 Key topics and concerns raised
The last CR relevance analysis, whose validity for the reporting year 2020 was confirmed by the Bertelsmann Executive Board, validated the following topics as being relevant for Bertelsmann:
- Integrity & Compliance: Promoting behavior consistent with the values and principles stated in the Essentials and the Code of Conduct, and building mutually trusting relationships with all employees, customers, business partners and government agencies, who count on Bertelsmann as a law-abiding partner.
- Antitrust Compliance: Promoting fair competition and preventing anticompetitive behavior.
- Data Protection & Privacy: Ensuring that customers’ confidential and personal information is handled in a secure and legally compliant manner.
- Diversity: Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and providing equal opportunities to all. Creating an inclusive corporate culture. Creating an inclusive corporate culture. Valuing different perspectives as the basis for creativity and innovation.
- Fair Working Conditions: Ensuring decent working conditions for employees, including job security. Protecting employees’ privacy, fair payment, and promoting a fair share of benefits/appropriate participation in the company’s success.
- Creative/Journalistic Independence: Encouraging creative production and editorial decision-making while upholding editorial guidelines and values without interference from media owners. Journalistic independence without succumbing to any sort of political or economic influence
- Paper: Sourcing paper from recycled materials and sustainably managed forests.
- Intellectual Property & Copyright: Addressing topics such as copyright, patents, royalty payments, illegal downloading, counterfeiting, and product piracy.
- Learning: Fostering learning and training to tackle major entrepreneurial challenges with well-trained employees. Strengthening employees’ innovative capacity.
- Content Responsibility: Producing and delivering an output that is fair and protects the right and interests of readers, viewers, listeners and users, including minors and other vulnerable groups.
- Employee Participation: Involving employees through employee representatives, employee surveys, performance reviews, as well as employee suggestion schemes.
- Health: Providing a secure, safe and healthy environment for all employees.
- Anti-Corruption & Bribery: Committing to and ensuring processes to prevent all forms of corruption.
CR topics, including non-financial performance indicators, are increasingly important for Bertelsmann’s businesses, but have not yet been incorporated into the value-oriented management system. The focus is on sales, operating profit and optimal capital investment. Due to currently limited measurability, no directly quantifiable statements can be made regarding interdependencies and value increases for the Group. For this reason, the non-financial performance indicators are not yet used for the management of the Group.
GRI 102 Reporting practice
GRI 102-45 Entities included in the consolidated financial statements
All fully consolidated Group companies were included in this report. Deviations from the scope of consolidation are indicated in the text. The full list of shareholdings of the Bertelsmann Group according to § 285 and § 313 German Commercial Code (HGB) for Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA as of December 31, 2020, can be found in the attachments of the individual financial statements of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, as of December 31, 2020.
GRI 102-46 Defining report content and topic boundaries
Bertelsmann regularly performs Corporate Responsibility relevance analyses. The CR relevance analysis whose validity for the reporting year was confirmed by the Bertelsmann Executive Board involved surveying more than 150 people, i.e. representatives of all major external stakeholder groups as well as Bertelsmann executives and employee representatives, on 21 selected CR topics. The external stakeholders gave their assessment of how Bertelsmann’s business activities impact these CR topics, while the executives and employee representatives assessed their relevance for the businesses. All external participants were interviewed personally using guided interviews. The Corporate Responsibility department summarized the results in a Bertelsmann CR Relevance Matrix , which was then adopted by the CR Council.
In fall 2020, a Group-wide stakeholder survey was conducted, based on which the Bertelsmann Executive Board adopted eight Bertelsmann Priority CR Topics at the beginning of 2021. Further information on this is available on the Bertelsmann Website .
GRI 102-47 List of material topics
|CR Topic at Bertelsmann||GRI Topics
Basis: GRI Standards 2016 and GRI Media Sector Disclosures, if not otherwise specified
Cf. GRI Standards Glossary 2016, p.17
|Integrity/Compliance||Antitrust Compliance||Inside the company|
|Anti-Corruption||Inside the company,|
outside the company
|Data Protection & Privacy||Customer Privacy||Inside the company|
|Diversity||Diversity and Equal Opportunities||Inside the company|
|Non-discrimination||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Fair Working Conditions||Employment||Inside the company|
|Labor/Management||Inside the company|
|Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Child Labor||Outside the company|
|Forced or Compulsory Labor||Outside the company|
|Creative/Journalistic Independence||Freedom of Expression and Opinion||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Content Production||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Paper||Materials||Outside the company|
|Intellectual Property & Copyright||Protection of Intellectual Property||Inside the company|
|Learning||Training & Education||Inside the company|
|Content Responsibility||Marketing and Product Labelling||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Content Dissemination||Inside the company|
|Media Literacy||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Employee Participation||Labor/Management||Inside the company|
|Health||Occupational Health and Safety1||Inside the company|
|Anti-corruption & Bribery||Anti-corruption||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Further Topics||Energy||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Water and Effluents1||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Emissions||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Waste||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Economic Performance||Inside the company, outside the company|
|Local Communities||Inside the company|
|Public Policy||Inside the company|
1) Basis: GRI Standards 2018.
GRI 102-48 Restatements of information
For environmental data collection: see GRI 300 .
GRI 102-51 Date of most recent report
The last Bertelsmann CR Report was published in June 2020. In addition, CR information is continuously updated on the Bertelsmann Website .
GRI 102-53 Contact point for questions regarding the report
GRI 102-54 Claims of reporting in accordance with the GRI Standards
GRI 102-55 GRI content index
GRI 102-56 External assurance
The economic indicators in this GRI report were taken from the Bertelsmann Annual Report 2020 , which was audited by KPMG AG. The audit was conducted with reasonable assurance and also covered the Combined Non-Financial Statement as part of Bertelsmann’s Combined Management Report 2020, including figures on the proportion of women in top and senior management, and on the sites using green electricity.
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