Bertelsmann puts Corporate Responsibility into action in a variety of ways. This website presents management approaches and indicators for selected CR priorities.
Bertelsmann aspires to become climate neutral by 2030. The greenhouse gas emissions generated at Bertelsmann's own sites, by the business travel of its employees, and by the manufacture of its own products are to be significantly reduced by 2030 and the remaining emissions offset with voluntary climate protection measures. At the same time, Bertelsmann is pursuing the reduction target of cutting absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2018. In addition to emissions from sites, employees and the company's own products, the latter also include all other accounted emissions. The reduction target was validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in March 2021. The SBTi confirmed that Bertelsmann's climate target is ambitious and in line with the 1.5° target of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Climate change is one of Bertelsmann's eight CR priorities. The company thus assumes its responsibility for reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its business activities.
The climate strategy "Bertelsmann Climate Neutral 2030" prioritizes measures to avoid and reduce emissions – ahead of offsetting remaining emissions. It comprises three fields of action: "sites," "employees," and "products," and is concretized by Group-wide milestones and specific measure plans of the individual corporate divisions. 100% of the electricity used at Bertelsmann sites worldwide is to come from renewable energy sources in the future. The Executive Board regularly monitors target achievement on the basis of uniform Group-wide indicators.
In addition, the company defined further strategic objectives and developed measures from those, as part of the Bertelsmann CR Program (2021–2023). These objectives include strengthening the governance for climate and environmental protection and further developing environmental planning and reporting. In addition, the company intends to increase the share of renewable energies (green electricity, photovoltaics), implement new mobility concepts, advance energy efficiency, “Green IT,” and the measurement of the digital footprint. Emissions from the print and digital products supply chains are to be presented in a transparent manner and reduced successively in a joint effort with business partners.
Unavoidable emissions are offset via a voluntary climate-protection project. Further projects are to be added in the years ahead and together form a project portfolio. Projects are carefully selected on the basis of defined criteria. For example, the projects must have a long-term orientation and ensure as best as possible that compensated CO2 emissions are not returned to the atmosphere. The projects should be independent and certified according to established standards (e.g. Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard) and also provide other environmental and social benefits in addition to climate protection.
Environmental Data Collection
The basis for effective climate protection is transparency about all relevant direct and indirect emission sources. Bertelsmann has been reporting its global greenhouse gas emissions annually since 2014 in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and publishing them in its Environmental Report . Since the financial year 2019, data collection and climate accounting has been carried out uniformly across the Group via the energy and environment platform "green.screen."
It includes Bertelsmann's direct emissions (Scope 1), which arise for example from its own electricity generation and the operation of printing plants as well as indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity and heat (Scope 2). In addition, all relevant indirect emissions (Scope 3) along the value chain are accounted for. This includes upstream emission sources, such as the purchase and transport of materials and the mobility of employees, as well as downstream steps such as the distribution of products.
In the 2022 financial year, the total of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3) accounted for was 1.9 million tons of CO2e, of which the largest share was attributable to indirect emissions along the value chain (Scope 3). Since the 2018 baseline, Bertelsmann has reduced its CO2 emissions by 24 percent despite increasing revenues.
Overview of total greenhouse gas emissions
in tons of CO2 equivalents (CO2e)
|Scope 1 emissions
|Scope 2 emissions
|Scope 3 emissions
|Scope 1, 2 and 3 total
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategy
For Bertelsmann, diversity and differences in the workforce are prerequisites for creativity, innovation, and long-term business success. This conviction is conveyed in the Bertelsmann Essentials and in the Executive Board’s DEI Policy , which was adopted in 2021. In this policy, the Bertelsmann Executive Board reaffirms its intention to further increase the diversity of staff at all levels and in every respect and to create appropriate framework conditions that foster the appreciation and involvement of employees and ensure equal opportunities. A culture of respect and belonging, in which employees are valued for their diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and talents, makes Bertelsmann a more open-minded company.
One focus of Bertelsmann's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategy is the dimension of gender. At Bertelsmann, more than half of the workforce is female (54 percent). To further enhance diversity at the management levels, Bertelsmann had initially set itself the target of raising the ratio of women in top management and senior management across all corporate divisions to one-third by the end of 2021. This target was reached in 2022. Compared with the previous year, the proportion of female executives was increased from 30 percent to 35 percent in top management and to 36 percent in senior management. Furthermore, the targeted proportion of one-third women in the top management talent pool and the senior management talent pool, and 50 percent women in the career development pool was achieved for the 2021/2022 cohort. For future cohorts, the targeted proportion of women was increased to 40 percent in the top management talent pool and to 50 percent in the senior management talent pool. The targeted proportion in the career development pool remains unchanged at 50 percent.
In 2021, the company defined strategic objectives relating to DEI as part of the Bertelsmann CR Program (2021–2023). These include the greater involvement of the Executive Board and top management into DEI engagement, the strategic further development of Diversity Management into Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Management, the professionalization of the governance structures for DEI in the corporate divisions, and awareness raising and competence development in relation to DEI.
Other focus topics are inclusion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. With the Action Plan for Inclusion (2019–2024) published in 2019 and the Group Inclusion Agreement concluded in 2021, Bertelsmann aims to create an even more inclusive working environment for people with disabilities in its German companies, while the Bertelsmann employee network "be.queer" works to promote an open and appreciative corporate culture worldwide, regardless of sexual orientation or identity.