Focus Topics

Bertelsmann puts corporate responsibility into action in a variety of ways. This website presents management approaches and indicators for selected CR topics.

Climate Neutral by 2030

The target

Bertelsmann will become climate neutral by 2030. By then, greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 50 percent compared to 2018. Bertelsmann will gradually offset remaining emissions from its own sites, employee business travel and product-related emissions with voluntary climate protection measures by 2030. In March 2021, the independent validation of the climate target by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)  was successfully completed. The SBTi confirmed that Bertelsmann's climate target is ambitious and in line with the 1.5° target of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Climate Protection Strategy

"Climate change" is one of the eight Bertelsmann priority CR topics. The company thus assumes its responsibility for reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its business activities. The original goal of saving 20 percent emissions by 2025 was achieved ahead of schedule in 2019.

The climate protection strategy prioritizes measures to reduce and avoid emissions – ahead of offsetting remaining emissions. It comprises three fields of action: "Sites," "Employees," and "Products." The Group-wide target is substantiated by Group-wide milestones and specific action plans of the individual divisions. For example, 100 percent of the electricity purchased at the sites worldwide is to come from renewable energy sources in the future. The Executive Board regularly monitors target achievement on the basis of standard Group-wide indicators.

Non-avoidable emissions are offset successively through emission reductions from a portfolio of voluntary climate protection projects. Projects are carefully selected on the basis of defined criteria. They include projects that bind CO2 emissions from the atmosphere over the long term ("removals") and thus actually neutralize the amount of emissions caused by Bertelsmann. These projects should be certified independently and by established standards (e.g., Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard). In addition, preference is given to projects that generate further ecological and social benefits in addition to climate protection.

The 2018 Baseline

The basis for effective climate protection is transparency about all relevant direct and indirect emission sources. Bertelsmann has reported its global greenhouse gas emissions annually since 2014 in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and publishes them in its GRI Report  . Since the financial year 2019, data collection and climate accounting has been carried out uniformly across the Group via the green.screen energy and environment platform.

As part of the development of the 2030 climate neutrality target, the data collection methods for indirect emissions (Scope 3) were updated and the emission sources accounted for were expanded. Major changes include the inclusion of supplier-specific emissions data - particularly in the area of paper production and external printing services - and more detailed collection of commuting emissions. In addition, further emission sources such as refrigerant losses, overnight hotel stays, transport and distribution, and waste logistics were included on a Group-wide basis for the first time. These changes resulted in a retroactively adjusted data basis for the years 2018 and 2019.

Emission sources 2018 previously 2018 new
Scope 1 – Fuels / propellants 0.26 0.26
Scope 2 – Electricity / heat 0.21 0.21
Scope 3 1.43 2.0
Materials & services (✔)
Energy-related emissions
Upstream transport  
Business travel (✔)
Staff commutes (✔)
Downstream transport  
Waste & end of life  
Total Scope 1-3 emissions 1.9 million t 2.5 million t

✔ = considered (✔) = partially considered

Greenhouse gas emissions in the categories of capital goods, rented or leased property, plant and equipment, processing of sold products, use phase of sold products, and rented or leased property, plant and equipment, franchises and investments that are insignificant for Bertelsmann's business activities or cannot be influenced are not reported.

Diversity

Bertelsmann sees the diversity of its workforce as a prerequisite for sustainable business success. A diverse workforce has a positive impact on the creativity, innovation and performance as well as motivation of employees. It promotes flexibility and success in different markets.

One focus of Bertelsmann’s diversity, equity & inclusion strategy is the “gender” dimension. To further increase diversity at management levels, Bertelsmann aims to attain a one-third share of women in top and senior management across all divisions by the end of 2021. This goal is to be supported by an improved talent pipeline: The share of women in the Top Management Pool and the Senior Management Pool should therefore also be one third, and 50% in the Career Development Pool. These goals have already been achieved in the current cohort.

Other focus topics are inclusion, as well as sexual orientation and identity. With the Action Plan for Inclusion (2019-2024) published in 2019, Bertelsmann aims to create an even more inclusive working environment for people with disabilities in German companies, while the employee network “be.queer” supported by Bertelsmann is committed to an open and appreciative corporate culture, regardless of sexual identity or orientation.