Organizational Profile

DMA, G4 3-13

​Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population.

Details about our corporate strategy and financials can be found in our 2015 10-K.

updated fast facts 1As noted above, we align our business into two principal segments: Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Buy segment provides consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance management. We help our clients understand current performance and provide advanced analytical capabilities and solutions that aid in managing and improving future performance, as well as navigate through the key trends and marketplace dynamics impacting their business. Our Total Consumer measurement and analytics are embedded in the operating disciplines of our clients, helping them to make smarter, quicker business decisions that drive results.

Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience Measurement services across all devices where content — video, audio and text — is consumed. We help our clients understand the reach of their content and advertising campaigns in both television and digital measurement, as well as provide effectiveness metrics that optimize and validate their overall spend and maximize the value of their content. We continue to evolve our offerings within the changing digital media landscape in areas like social media, as well as tablet and mobile measurement. Our multiplatform measurement strategy brings together the best of Traditional and Digital measurement to ensure a more comprehensive view of the industry. Our goal is to create a total measurement of all content and all ads—regardless of how they are accessed and the ad model that they’re supporting. Nielsen’s vision is to create an environment where all media content can be consistently measured with ratings for both the content and the advertising.

We have a unique perspective on how consumers engage with programming and advertising across all media channels (mobile, PC, TV, radio) and content types (video, audio, text), and how it translates into what they purchase. This has allowed us to create our Marketing Effectiveness practice, which directly addresses “the three Rs”—Reach, Resonance and Reaction. We help our clients “Reach” the most desirable consumers, and our data acts as the official currency metric of that Reach in 31 markets around the world. We also gauge the “Resonance” of their messages and quantify consumer “Reaction” in terms of sales impact. We are uniquely positioned to link a wide range of marketing and media exposure directly to consumer buying behavior. We continue to invest in capabilities aimed at helping our clients improve the return on their marketing investments to optimize spending across channels and maximize their overall impact. Each year, we continue to focus on delivering our insights with greater speed and precision, enabling our clients to improve their marketing programs and realize greater value.

We also regularly share our insights about societal shifts, client outcomes and consumer trends on our website, which you can find on the Nielsen News Center and Nielsen Insights.

Significant Operational Changes - 2015

In 2015, Nielsen acquired eXelate, a leading provider of data and technology to facilitate the buying and selling of advertising across programmatic platforms. This acquisition allows Nielsen to enable its clients to make better and faster marketing and media decisions. Also in 2015, Nielsen acquired a controlling interest in Nielsen Catalina Solutions.

In addition, Nielsen realigned its call center operations in 2015. Details of this consolidation are discussed in our Appendix.

Nielsen Employees

As of Dec. 31, 2015, we employed approximately 43,000 people worldwide. Of that, we had 2,480 part-time employees globally. The highest concentration of employees is in the U.S. (24%).  Approximately 20% of our employees are covered under collective bargaining agreements with our works councils. Subcontracted and seasonal employees do not constitute a significant portion of Nielsen’s workforce. Approximately 50% of all our employees are female.

Regarding employee category, Nielsen’s employee categories are structured according to a band system based on each individual employee’s role within the company. As employees grow their careers at Nielsen through increased responsibilities and longer tenure, their band level evolves accordingly. For all employee levels, advancement is based on meritocracy. This means that associates will be rewarded and promoted based on the results they deliver and the impact of their contributions.

Strategy and Analysis

G4-1, G4-2, G4-15, G4-16, G4-18, G4-27

As our 2015 Sustainability Imperative research report says, “Consumers are trying to be responsible citizens of the world and they expect the same from corporations.”

It’s not only consumers who have high expectations for companies, but also clients, employees and investors. Companies, too, are also asking their suppliers to be more transparent about their business practices. At Nielsen, we have seen a steady increase in interest about our commitments to positively impact our society, communities, environment and the marketplace. These inquiries have come from a variety of different internal and external stakeholders. For many, transparency equals trust. For Nielsen, trust is the foundation for the success of our business.

In response to this increased interest, we are expanding our own external reporting efforts. This Global Responsibility Report—our first—follows the GRI framework, an international standard that encompasses all aspects of our business, our impact on society and the environment, and our responsiveness to stakeholders. We are reporting against the GRI G4 standards in accordance with the “Core” level, covering 2015 with a forward-looking focus on our goals for the future.

As part of the GRI process, we conducted a materiality assessment that helped us to understand the range of issues that are most important to Nielsen’s internal and external stakeholders. This guided us on what content should be included in this report. With those focus areas in mind, we offer expanded sections on topics like data integrity and privacy, diversity, ethics, data center energy usage, how the digital world is changing the consumer marketplace and our strategic approach.

With this report, we also have the opportunity to highlight the ways we collaborate with others for greater impact. We bring our expertise and insights to nonprofits who are addressing some of the world’s most challenging social issues. Often, we look for opportunities to share those findings online and with other organizations so that everyone can benefit. None of this would be possible without the leadership of our associates around the world, donating their time and expertise to help more than 800 nonprofit organizations in 2015 alone. We are also proud to support external initiatives like Impact 2030, focused on the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and the A Billion + Change campaign that mobilizes businesses to harness the power of skill-based volunteerism and pro bono work for social good.

As with any first-time GRI report for a company covering 106 countries, we have been challenged by the amount of data and information that is expected to be reported at a global level. Dozens of internal experts were called upon to collect information and compile data. Some of our data is limited in scope; we note these constraints throughout the report. Over time, we plan to add external assurance to our report as well.

We recognize that all of this work is worth it. Robust reporting provides us with another way to look at our business to ensure that we not only continue to embrace best practices to enhance our citizenship and sustainability efforts, but also for our ultimate long-term viability as a company. We also anticipate that feedback from internal and external stakeholders on this report will give us insight into how we can better serve our clients, how we can enhance our value to investors and how we can continue to evolve our business to respond to marketplace shifts.

In other words, we strongly believe that more transparent reporting leads to a stronger company for all our stakeholders. Together, we want to continue to measure what matters most—using data to positively impact our world.

Nielsen recognizes the undeniable connection between the economic, social and environmental health of the global communities where we live and work to the long-term success of our business. We also aim to leverage the breadth and depth of our expertise in research and analysis to help solve some of the world’s biggest social challenges in markets around the world. To do this, we engage in a number of initiatives to support our goals, including:

Nielsen Cares

Through Nielsen Cares, our global corporate social responsibility program, our associates mobilize Nielsen’s data and expertise for good, creating shared value in our communities. Nielsen associates around the globe rally around the donation of their skills and time to help nonprofit organizations through pro bono work, in-kind giving and both skills-based and hands-on community volunteer projects.

Diversity and Inclusion

We view diversity and inclusion as a business imperative. Our effectiveness at embracing the talents of people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives is key to our continued success and innovation. As a result, we can provide clients with information they need to succeed and make certain that all communities and individuals that we depend on for information understand who we are, what we do and agree to participate in our consumer samples.

We have External Advisory Councils representing African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian Pacific American communities to provide input and insight to enhance the continuous improvement and quality of Nielsen’s recruitment, engagement and interaction with multicultural consumers and communities. We also share insights about and in multicultural communities through our Diverse Intelligence Series thought leadership reports and sponsorships utilizing our U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement team as a way to more directly and authentically understand and connect with prospective employees, clients and panelists within the communities we serve.

Nielsen has also worked diligently to employ strong global leadership training programs for high-potential associates from underrepresented groups. One of the learning and development programs we offer is an 18-month “mini-MBA” leadership development program called the Diverse Leadership Network (DLN), which is focused on cross-cultural coaching, executive networking, course curriculum, faculty workshops and case studies. Frequent exposure to senior leadership is also a part of the process. Since its start in 2013, the DLN has 100% retention of associates that complete the program and 98% of program graduates in new or expanded roles.

Nielsen's Commitment to Our Environment

We continuously identify and advocate for more sustainable options to increase operational efficiencies, all in an effort to manage and reduce Nielsen’s impact on the environment. Focus areas include material and resource management, waste management, energy/power management, travel reductions, education, water management and indoor environment quality. Details about our actions can be found in the Our Environment section of this report and at this link.

Key Corporate Responsibility Impacts, Risks and Opportunities

Nielsen’s greatest opportunity for social and environmental impact is to share our expertise in data collection and analysis. Our insights can provide companies, nonprofits, governments and other key stakeholders with valuable information to more effectively address the world’s challenges.

Nielsen frequently provides our research insights on our global website for the general public to access. 2015 research posted on our website included reports on food insecurity, what drives consumers to buy sustainable products, Africa’s economic prospects, shifting dietary trends toward healthy food, how technological and environmental factors are changing housing and housing affordability, the changing landscape of residential solar energy and how mobile surveys are giving voice to factory workers and improving their working conditions. Nielsen also provides nonprofits and NGOs with research and insights, both through our pro bono Nielsen Cares work and through our commercial Public Development & Sustainability and Consumer Insights groups, among others.

Business risks are listed in our 2015 10-K on page 13. Primary sustainability-related risks highlighted throughout this report are employee recruitment and retention, diversity representation in our workforce and survey samples, data privacy and integrity, anti-corruption and ethics. All of these risks are addressed throughout this report.


G4 34-39, G4 40-42, G4 45-46, G4 51-53

The “Corporate Governance” section of our Investor Relations site extensively covers our management team, Board of Directors and the composition and responsibilities of our board and its committees. The Corporate Governance Guidelines, Lead Independent Director Charter, Nielsen Code of Conduct, Human Rights Guidelines, and the Charters of each of the Board Committees provide the framework for corporate governance at Nielsen and can be accessed by clicking on the relevant links on the Investor Relations site. Responsibility for Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability (including but not limited to areas like corporate social responsibility, environmental quality and diversity and inclusion) is specifically assigned to the Board’s Nomination and Corporate Governance Committee and is referenced in its charter.

Our Global Citizenship and Sustainability Council (GCSC), launched in 2014, is an internal cross-functional senior leadership team focused on aligning new and existing initiatives to ensure that Nielsen is continuously making progress in all areas of long-term citizenship and sustainability. Leaders on this committee include executives from Corporate Social Responsibility, Public Development & Sustainability, Diversity & Inclusion, Investor Relations, Human Resources, Sourcing, Legal, Public Affairs and Environmental Sustainability.

Information about executive diversity make-up and compensation can be found in the 2015 proxy statement, pages 78 (Diversity Policy) and pages 86-120 (Executive Compensation). Nielsen has a 95% rating from the Center for Public Accountability.

Ethics and Integrity

G4 57-58

Nielsen was founded on the principles of integrity, honesty, fairness, respect and reliability. Our clients and everyone with whom we do business have come to depend on these guiding principles of our company. Our word is a currency by which our stakeholders value and invest in Nielsen’s products and services. That is both a great honor and responsibility for all of us. Nielsen is committed to having its employees live up to the highest standards of ethics in everything they do in the name of Nielsen.

Our Code of Conduct spells out Nielsen’s ethical guidelines for both compliance with the law and Nielsen’s own principles. The Code applies to Nielsen’s subsidiaries and affiliates controlled by us and it also applies equally to the members of our Board, our senior officers, every full- and part-time employee and every independent contractor who acts on behalf of Nielsen. Key suppliers are also required to adhere to Nielsen’s Supplier Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct is provided to new hires, who must certify to the Code within their first 30 days of hire. Employees must re-certify every other year to ensure that they have read and understand the Code. Employees and leaders are reminded at least yearly of our commitment to anti-bribery and anti-corruption via global communications outreach.

Code of Conduct Best Practices training is available to employees in most countries. In 2015, employees took more than 8,000 hours of training in our Code of Conduct Best Practices course. By the end of 2016, we plan to have employees complete Code of Conduct training in all regions.

The Code of Conduct also offers steps on how to report concerns or violations, both to senior management and anonymously via phone or online form. The hotline is managed by a third party to ensure anonymity.

Our Integrity Leader program, formerly known as the Ombudsman program, was renamed to more clearly resonate with employees. With that in mind, our 2015 “Speak Up” internal campaign and poster contest was launched to encourage associates to learn more about these resources and it led to 130 poster submissions, hundreds of votes and engagement with associates from around the world on our internal social network, Yammer. This was part of Nielsen’s response to one of the main outcomes from our 2014 Compliance & Integrity survey which identified the need for clearer ethical expectations. In response to these increased efforts, in the 2015 Nielsen Voice survey, a vast majority of our employees said that they are clear about Nielsen’s ethical expectations.

To continue our efforts to raise the bar in this area in 2015, we initiated training in our online manager portal about “Leading with Integrity”; we expanded regional efforts through our MENAP (Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan) Integrity Council and we gave our first-ever Integrity in Action award to an associate, chosen from 120 nominations. In further efforts to engage associates within our regions, we have two internal Yammer groups for North America Integrity and MENAP Integrity.

Additionally, we integrate reporting for all alleged employee misconduct, data integrity issues and outside attempts at defrauding our company to ensure a coordinated response from Human Resources, Legal, Security and regional Integrity Leaders. Other programs are also in place to address potential and substantiated claims of integrity failures brought to our attention by clients and other external stakeholders, both within and across our supply chain. For more information, please reference our Data Integrity section.

Integrity and ethics incidents, misconduct concerns and responses are overseen by the Corporate Integrity Leader and are reported regularly to the top levels of management and the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.

Supply Chain

G4-12, G4 15-16, G4-HR 9-10, G4-SO9, G4-LA 14-15, G4-EN 32-33

Nielsen’s global supply chain consists of purchases in three high-level categories: technology, services and measuring equipment. The management of Nielsen’s spend is the responsibility of two organizations: 1) the Sourcing organization, responsible for negotiating and contracting with either new suppliers or new statements of work and 2) the Vendor Management organization, responsible for management of the supplier’s post-contract performance, including its performance against specified environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. The company monitors the risks of human and labor rights violations, environmental practices and governance activities associated with the suppliers who are core to our business across the globe. In recognition of the importance of ESG issues in our supply chain, we expanded our team in 2015 to include two new Supplier Diversity & Sustainability Manager and Analyst positions to address these unique opportunities.


Nielsen is committed to incorporating sustainability into our business process throughout the life cycle of a Nielsen supplier. During the supplier selection phase, sustainability and diversity are two of the criteria that are considered during the RFP (request for proposal) process, along with our requirements for performance, quality, service and cost. The evaluation of a prospective supplier’s ESG performance will occur at both the company level and the products and services level, with a view towards decreasing the negative environmental and social impacts of our supply chain and increasing the positive environmental and social impacts. In January 2015, Nielsen adopted the Nielsen Supplier Code of Conduct, which was made public on nielsen.com. As a result, all Nielsen suppliers are required to adhere to that Code as a condition of doing business with Nielsen. Nielsen continues to update contracts as they are renewed to include our Supplier Code of Conduct or reference to the supplier’s own code of conduct if it is consistent with our expectations.

Once a contract is signed, Vendor Management manages Nielsen’s strategic suppliers through a regularly scheduled business review and scorecard process. This review process addresses supplier performance on operational metrics, financial health, diversity and sustainability. Nielsen defines the “strategic suppliers” who participate in this process as suppliers who are critical to our core business of measuring what consumers watch and buy. This group of suppliers is inclusive of our 3 high-level purchasing categories: technology, services and measuring equipment. Taken together, these suppliers typically encompass the largest percentage of our annual spend.

In 2016, we launched Nielsen Source Green, our formal supply chain sustainability initiative. With this program in place, we plan to measure, manage and gain specific visibility into the ESG performance of our strategic suppliers on an ongoing basis. We have retained an outside firm to monitor the ESG performance of these suppliers through comprehensive scorecards that provide a standardized monitoring platform. These scorecards are created using detailed supplier self-assessments and third-party documentation, like conformance to industry standards, media and investor reports, and other external disclosures. Some of these industry standards and external disclosures include the U.N. Global Compact, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, suppliers’ GRI and Carbon Disclosure Project reports, ISO standards, SA 8000, and other recognized industry standards like LEED building standards, EICC (Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Reports published by news media, investors and nongovernmental organizations are also incorporated as further data points to develop a holistic picture of each supplier’s ESG performance and commitments.

Once completed, these initial assessments are then scored and analyzed with a detailed qualitative and quantitative presentation of supplier strengths and areas for continuous ESG improvement. Nielsen’s Vendor Management team will use these scorecards to identify, assess and measure risk in key categories and identify opportunities for improvement with the strategic suppliers in our supply chain. Most importantly, these assessments will provide a basis for meaningful supplier dialogue and engagement at regular, specified intervals. Corrective action plans will be implemented when suppliers do not meet Nielsen’s standards in these key areas.

We view 2016 as the initial baseline year for formally measuring, monitoring and publicly reporting on the ESG performance of our supply chain. The measurement and reporting of vendor performance on ESG metrics will continue year over year, with a goal of reporting a positive trend in performance as well as increasing the percentage of spend measured. By 2018, our goal is to cover up to 50% of Nielsen’s total spend with suppliers through this Vendor ESG program, up from more than a third of our spend in 2016.

To further develop this cohesive framework for Nielsen supply chain sustainability, our plans for 2016-2017 include:

• Creating a Nielsen Source Green Advisory Committee with cross-functional senior managers to support our program;
• Updating our Supplier Code of Conduct, Sourcing and Vendor Management policies and practices to reflect this more comprehensive approach to ESG impacts;
• Communicating our Nielsen Source Green initiative through various communication channels to increase internal and external awareness of supply chain sustainability; and
• Continually improving our own program and advancing the field of supply chain sustainability through participation in industry groups.

Supplier Diversity

We are building a sustainable, world-class Supplier Diversity program to move Nielsen toward achieving its corporate objectives of cost leadership, revenue growth and fostering long-term diverse spend opportunities within the purchasing culture across our company. Our Corporate Supplier Diversity program recognizes diverse suppliers as for-profit businesses physically located in the U.S. or one of its trust territories.

These businesses must be 51% owned, controlled and operated by a Minority, Woman, Veteran, people with disabilities or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) person. To qualify as a Nielsen diverse supplier, a diverse business must have a current certification from one of the following agencies or their regional affiliate:

• National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
• Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
• Government Agency (City, State, or National)
• U.S. DD Form 214 (discharge form)
• National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
• U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN)

supplier diversity

Nielsen’s supplier diversity program has improved each year since its launch in 2009. In 2015, we achieved 8% of our U.S. sourceable spend with diverse suppliers, representing a 14% year-over-year increase from 2014 and a growth of 37% over the past two years. Over the past two years, our diverse suppliers have added over 200 jobs as a result of doing business with Nielsen. While our goal for spend with diverse suppliers is currently based only on U.S. sourceable spend, we are actively working to expand our program globally. Our global efforts began through our support for South Africa’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBB-EE). Also in 2015, we launched our Diverse Leadership Network (DLN) Supplier Diversity Competition event, an ongoing collaboration between Nielsen’s Diverse Leadership Network (DLN) and Supplier Diversity teams to provide pro bono guidance and advice to diverse business owners.

We have been recognized by several publications for our efforts, including:

• One of the Best of the Decade for supplier diversity (Minority Business News USA)
• One of the Top 101 Supplier Diversity Programs (Women’s Enterprise USA)
• One of the WE USA Corporations of the Year for Supplier Diversity (Women’s Enterprise USA)
• One of America’s Top Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities (DiversityBusiness.com)

In 2016, we plan to launch a Supplier Summit to reward internal and external supporters of supplier diversity and sustainability and connect our diverse suppliers with key internal buyers to create additional business opportunities.

Over the longer term, we plan to expand our supplier diversity program globally.

Year Over Year Diverse Spend Growth

Please visit our Supplier Diversity page for more information about Supplier Diversity at Nielsen along with our annual Supplier Diversity reports.

Stakeholder Engagement

G4 15-16, G4 24-27, G4-56, G4-PR 8

Nielsen engages with its key internal and external stakeholders in both formal and informal ways. We monitor their views on an ongoing basis to determine if we are meeting their expectations in the areas most material to Nielsen, including but not limited to client service, responsible products and behavior, environmental and community stewardship and responsiveness as an employer. These engagements include both direct dialogue and indirect stakeholder proxies through surveys, social media and other modes of soliciting and receiving feedback.

Stakeholder feedback is used to develop company policies, expand employee training and benefits programs, create new client programs and services and refine our interaction with the consumers we engage for information through Nielsen panels and surveys. Our ongoing stakeholder engagement also includes collecting data from many groups on their perceptions, opinions and criticisms about general social, economic and environmental issues. This information is shared with the public and our clients to help improve responsiveness to stakeholder viewpoints.

We also have External Advisory Councils that represent the interests of the African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian Pacific American communities. Our Councils regularly advise Nielsen on key issues such as multicultural panel recruitment and engagement strategies, diversity in representation and retention of Nielsen’s U.S. workforce and execution of our minority business enterprise supplier spending program.

The EACs are composed of exemplary leaders in a range of business, community, education, entertainment and faith-based organizations. We bring the three councils together twice a year for Joint Advisory Council meetings to ensure that their collective voices are heard around common areas of concern. They also advise Nielsen on an ongoing basis on how to further enhance the continuous improvement and quality of Nielsen’s recruitment, engagement and interaction with multicultural consumers and communities.

The feedback we receive from the Councils is used to develop company policies, expand employee training and benefits programs, create new client programs and services, and refine our interaction with the people we engage for information through Nielsen panels and surveys. We have a focus on measuring and analyzing how people of diverse multicultural backgrounds interact with digital platforms, traditional media and in-store environments. As multicultural communities grow, and buying power and influence increases, these efforts ensure that our Total Audience Measurement provides our clients with the insights they need to maximize their performance and growth in the face of these population changes.

We also review external assessments of our employment, financial, environmental and community engagement practices. In 2015, we solicited feedback from groups such as Working Mother, EcoVadis, Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), DiversityInc, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and a variety of customers, investors and community groups. This feedback is invaluable to Nielsen as we incorporate these external views into enhanced policies and programs to improve our business and operations.

Additionally, in early 2015, we completed a formal stakeholder engagement process to determine Nielsen’s most material citizenship and sustainability issues for both action planning and external reporting. Altogether, the assessment team conducted more than 30 interviews and engaged more than 200 internal and external stakeholders. The same team reviewed more than 50 source documents representing key groups. That materiality assessment process is detailed in this report and on Nielsen’s website.

Nielsen’s engagement with key stakeholder groups is documented below:


Employees are surveyed biannually through our Nielsen Voice employee satisfaction survey. This survey—which includes a range of questions focused on engagement, compensation and work-life balance, among other topics—complements regular employee interactions with managers and senior leaders through Nielsen’s open-door policy and Check-Ins between managers and associates. In 2015, 98% of our associates worldwide responded to the Nielsen Voice survey, our highest response rate ever. The response rate was also much higher than the 78% global average of our third-party provider’s clients. Increasingly, employees also use social media platforms like Yammer, Nielsen’s internal social network, to discuss emerging issues and solve problems collaboratively across our business. Our global associates have generated about 16,000 collaborative conversations per month.

Nielsen Alumni event 3

Based on employee feedback, Nielsen launched a major global initiative in 2015 to revamp its performance review process. Supporting our culture of meritocracy, the Check-In process was introduced globally as a way to promote ongoing, regular conversations between associates and their managers. Checking in at least once every 90 days helps our associates to build stronger connections with their managers, adjust priorities as business and client needs evolve, receive real-time feedback to continuously adapt, learn, grow and align their experiences to their long-term career aspirations. More detail about this program can be found in the “Check-In” section of this report.


Nielsen also engages and participates with a number of clients and other third-party organizations through a variety of committees with the objective of gaining direct client input and insights to enhance the quality of our measurement for the industries we serve. These committees advise the relevant Nielsen business units on industry issues and concerns, provide insight on technological advances and help Nielsen improve the utility of its data as industry currency. In some cases, Nielsen works with other organizations to facilitate these committees. You can find more information about these committees in our Appendix.

For individual client concerns, Nielsen maintains a Data Science Board. This group of six highly experienced leaders—each with 15 or more years of experience in statistical methodology, advanced quantitative techniques, universe estimation, audience measurement and client engagement—works with our Data Science Business Leaders to examine and address client issues, providing expertise and consultation around escalated challenges and technical decisions. The team aims to provide resolutions within 24 hours. Nielsen created the Data Science Board in 2013 to provide an objective and highly-qualified perspective on difficult and often complex client questions about Nielsen’s research and insights, leveraging global expertise wherever it is needed to drive consistency in our approaches.

The team considers various risk severity levels to prioritize data science issues and ensure an appropriate and timely response to all client requests.

Photo: World Food Programme
Photo: World Food Programme

Research Panelists

Nielsen uses panels of consumers to solicit their opinions and behavior on behalf of our clients. Privacy is the most commonly cited inquiry by this group. Nielsen’s Panelist Privacy Policy addresses these concerns.


Corporate Social Responsibility: Nielsen Cares

As the world’s leading performance management company that measures what consumers watch and buy, Nielsen engages a range of community and nonprofit industry organizations to provide pro bono support in helping organizations advance their social missions within our Nielsen Cares priority cause areas. Please refer to the Our Communities section of this report for more information about Nielsen Cares, or our public Nielsen Cares page.

Mexico NGID

U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement

At Nielsen, we remain steadfast in our commitment to deepen and grow our relationships across multicultural communities. The growing multicultural segments of the U.S. population offer some of the most attractive growth opportunities for our clients today and we are focused more than ever on helping our clients win with these consumers. Our deep-rooted and longstanding relationships with multicultural organizations, community and civic leaders, and elected officials are crucial to our ability to do this successfully. Nielsen’s U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement team invests in these important relationships through their unwavering commitment to improve the communities where we live and work. Through this outreach, we have successfully:

  • Raised brand awareness within African-American, Asian-American and Latino communities to support the Nielsen commitment of diversity in measurement through 175 events nationwide.
  • Included cross-platform, social media and thought leadership engagement in 80% of our alliances with community organizations.
  • Increased the U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement “You Matter” Database by 65% in 2015, reaching a total of 123,585 contacts and further expanding our future panelist base.

Additional details about our outreach can be found here as well as on our Nielsen Community page.

Public and Policymakers

Nielsen engages with the public and policymakers to make our data widely available as a valuable resource for a broad range of different groups across sectors.

To foster greater transparency about our data collection and use practices for the general public, Nielsen has partnered with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) to develop a consumer education website known as “Digital IQ” where newly online populations can learn more about how the Internet works and how to safely navigate the online experience. For the public and policymakers, as well as for our clients and other organizations, we make insights available in a number of ways, including through our work with The Demand Institute, a non-advocacy, nonprofit organization jointly operated by Nielsen and The Conference Board.

Nielsen is proud to be a leader in transparency and to have been recognized by the Center for Public Accountability with a 95% rating.

Nielsen Investments in Innovation

Nielsen Innovate is an early-stage technology incubator and investment fund focused on market research, consumer behavior, data analytics, marketing and advertising solutions, campaign effectiveness measurement, big data, social, mobile and new media.

In partnership with the Israeli government, Nielsen Innovate identifies promising start-up businesses within Nielsen’s areas of expertise, providing them with capital, a place to work, mentorship and a host of other services in exchange for a modest investment stake. Due to the importance of giving back through these arrangements, Nielsen Innovate also encourages its portfolio companies to commit equity to Tmura, an Israeli foundation founded in 2002 that uses start-up equity to support educational opportunities and youth initiatives. While this practice dilutes Nielsen’s ownership stake in these companies, we support the potential that this equity has to make a positive social impact when leveraged by Tmura. We also recognize the power of introducing entrepreneurs to opportunities like Tmura early in their journey to success, as this helps incorporate the value of community into the DNA of a company at an early stage.

Nielsen is also a strategic investor in Pereg Ventures, a venture capital firm headquartered in New York City. The firm offers unique expertise to entrepreneurs who are leading innovative business-to-business information services companies, particularly those that help consumer-driven companies measure their market performance and/or optimize their marketing investments.


Through our Investor Relations and SEC Reporting teams, we have incrementally grown the degree of transparency in our public reporting. In our Q4 2015 earnings documents and our 2015 Form 10-K, for example, Nielsen provided additional sub-segment financial disclosure for our Watch business by sharing historical revenue and constant currency growth rates for our Audience Measurement of Video and Text, Marketing Effectiveness, Audio and Other Watch businesses. Previously, we had provided revenue and constant currency growth rates for our Watch business as a whole. We are encouraged by the positive response we have received from investors regarding these additional disclosures.

Another aspect of our strong shareholder engagement process is what we do around proxy season. In 2015 we reached out to the holders of 50% of our shares and ultimately spoke with 30% of them. A team consisting of our Lead Independent Director and/or our Compensation Chair on the Board as well as our Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President of Investor Relations conducted these calls. We received 98.3% shareholder approval of Nielsen’s executive compensation program in 2015.

Photo: CECP
Photo: CECP

Materiality Assessment

G4 17-21

In 2014, Nielsen began a formal non-financial materiality assessment to determine the issues that are most critical to our business and to our stakeholders. Our primary motivation was to review and benchmark our citizenship and sustainability efforts, enhance our reporting and update our strategies and programs to reflect our stakeholder needs and business priorities. We also wanted to identify any potential risks and opportunities, along with any emerging issues that could affect Nielsen’s business success and stakeholder relationships in the future.

Please visit our materiality page for more information about Nielsen’s non-financial materiality assessment and matrix, including stakeholder feedback methodology, issue ranking criteria, findings and Nielsen’s response.

materiality assessment

Risk Management


Nielsen provides clients with a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch, what consumers buy and how those choices intersect. We believe our global presence, diverse portfolio of services and robust internal risk and control processes promote a sustainable business model. But like all companies, we are not exempt from certain risks that could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of our operations.

At Nielsen, strong controllership is the foundation supporting our daily operations and long-term strategic efforts. Financial and non-financial controllership teams work together to help drive a sustainable business model. Our Chief Legal Officer oversees Nielsen’s legal and risk management functions. Risk management is handled through a matrix approach. At Nielsen there are three teams primarily responsible for measuring, monitoring and mitigating financial risks in collaboration with other global teams across our business:

• Corporate Audit Staff (CAS)
• Corporate Reporting and Analysis (CR&A)
• Treasury

The ERM Leadership Committee, which includes the Chief Financial Officer along with other key leaders within the company, has oversight to Enterprise Risk Management. This is supplemented by the corporate audit team led by the Senior Vice President of Corporate Audit, the Chief Security Officer, the Vice President of Compliance and Corporate Integrity Leader (formerly known as Ombudsman), as well as the regional business leaders. This core team is supported by a robust network of local and regional controllers, accountants and financial planning professionals who also assist in managing financial risk. All 11 non-executive members of Nielsen’s Board of Directors have expertise in Enterprise Risk Management, given their general backgrounds as directors and current or former executive officers of public companies. The board is also regularly informed by Nielsen management on the specific risks the company faces. More about the functions that each of these teams performs is included in the Appendix of this report.

Nielsen uses an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework to identify, evaluate, discuss and manage financial and non-financial risks for long-term success. Nielsen takes a holistic approach to review company risks, understand their potential impacts and take appropriate measures to reduce the risks. All of the risks Nielsen’s management prioritizes during ERM reporting are interrelated and therefore are not reviewed in isolation.

During Nielsen’s annual Operating Plan review process, each region/business unit presents current-year financial performance and the plan and budget proposal for the coming year. In the past, there was also a section in the presentation template that required each region/business unit to address 16 significant business risks as identified by Nielsen Risk Management across four categories: Finance, Strategic & Business, Operational and Compliance & Regulatory. Each business unit reported and discussed the severity (high, medium, low) of these 16 significant risks, with Nielsen financial risks forwarded to the CEO and CFO. If a business unit deemed a risk to have high severity, the business was required to disclose to management the action plan the team planned to implement to monitor and mitigate the risk. The consolidated results are communicated to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors on an annual basis. Nielsen uses the outcome of stakeholder meetings to better understand potential gaps between internal and external perception of risks and their impact on the company’s reputation and future success.

Starting in 2015, Nielsen built on this strong foundation by launching a corporate initiative to further improve on the ERM reporting process. Under the new process, regional business owners are now required to report on 20 business risks, and corporate business leaders are required to report on seven corporate-related risks.

One of the newly-added risks in 2015 was “Health & Safety,” linked to adverse financial, legal or reputational impact as a result of failure to provide safe working environments to employees and failure to protect employees from external threats, including failure to consider physical environmental impacts due to business-as-usual activities like the energy required to operate facilities, waste disposal, corporate travel and other related activities.

Another related risk—established prior to 2015—in the ERM reporting process is “Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning,” linked to adverse financial, legal or reputational impact as a result of the inability to properly respond, continue business operations or meet client demands in the event of disruption related to an unforeseen incident, including natural or man-made disasters or the inability to adapt to organizational changes.

Both the newly-added “Health & Safety” and existing “Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning” risks overlap with environmental issues. More information about business and financial risks can be found on page 13 of Nielsen’s 2015 10-K. It is important to note that a risk management and internal control system, no matter how well-designed and operated, provides only reasonable (not absolute) assurance regarding achievement of an entity’s objectives.

As it relates to our Accounts Payable (AP) process to mitigate sourcing risk, all new vendors are vetted by Nielsen Sourcing before being inputted into our vendor master database. Throughout our comprehensive vetting process, Nielsen utilizes a number of different external data sources to ensure, among other things, that there are no sanctions or law enforcement activity against the vendor and that there are no regulatory enforcement actions in progress, as well as conducts a world-check risk screening.

As it relates to ESG risks specifically, Nielsen conducted a non-financial materiality assessment in late 2014 and early 2015 to determine the citizenship and sustainability issues that are most critical to our business and to our stakeholders. From an environmental perspective, energy, business travel and waste are the three most significant environmental issues for Nielsen identified by internal and external stakeholders. Nielsen’s ERM process addresses these and other risks that affect Nielsen.

Nielsen also uses an internal social platform, Yammer, to encourage all employees worldwide to promote the sharing of best practices. Four groups are established that all employees can access: Compliance & Integrity, Travel & Expenses (T&E) Compliance, Data Science Business Quality & Compliance and North America Ombudsman (now called the Integrity Leader program). These groups provide a more interactive way for Nielsen employees to get involved with risk management practices and learn more about how they can effectively mitigate risk.

Nielsen uses an external vendor, Corporate Executive Board (CEB), to learn about and incorporate best practices for ERM. All Nielsen employees have access to CEB’s webinars, benchmarking and diagnostic tools and online forums to advance the effectiveness of our risk management programs.

Nielsen’s commitment to unrelenting controllership and robust Enterprise Risk Management establishes the framework needed to support a sustainable business model. These fundamentals enable Nielsen to expand on our global footprint and diverse portfolio of services to better serve our employees, clients, shareholders and communities.

Diversity at Nielsen


We recognize the importance of Diversity & Inclusion for our growth, strength and ability to innovate. At Nielsen, this means embracing and valuing the ideas of people with diverse skills, talents, experiences and cultural backgrounds to provide our clients with the information they need to succeed.

As our CEO, Mitch Barns, has said: “The growing multicultural segments of the U.S. population offer some of the most attractive growth opportunities for our clients today and we are focused more than ever on helping them win with these consumers. Our deep-rooted and longstanding relationships with multicultural organizations, community and civic leaders and elected officials are crucial to our ability to do this successfully.”

As part of our core business, Nielsen is committed to accurately measuring a broad range of consumer behavior representing a wide range of ethnicities, cultures and organizations worldwide. We are similarly invested in diversity within Nielsen, committed to ensuring that our workforce represents the communities where we live and work. In our efforts to recruit and retain top talent around the globe, we embrace the skills and ideas of people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. We know that our growth and long-term success depends on our ability to remain an employer of choice for a diverse workforce.

Nielsen’s formal Diversity & Inclusion program began in the U.S. in 2006 and expanded globally beginning in 2013 with foundational training for all People Managers. We partnered with a diverse supplier to tailor training for each region. To date, 93% of our People Managers globally have attended the training in 66 countries. There is also an adapted online version of this training for all employees that has been translated into 10 languages and has been taken by employees in 68 countries. This training has served as the catalyst for launching several Employee Resource Group chapters globally. As of this publication, we have 50 ERG chapters in North America, 22 ERG chapters in Europe, 5 ERG chapters in Latin America (LATAM), 8 ERG chapters in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1 ERG chapter in Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan (MENAP), 4 ERG chapters in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific (SEANAP) and 5 ERG chapters in India.

As we move ahead, our aim is to create and expand even more robust diversity programs in international markets, continuing to reflect their own definitions of multiculturalism and changing marketplaces. In this way, we can better serve our clients and improve Nielsen’s overall business performance with Diversity & Inclusion as a key strategic driver of growth.

Employee Recruitment, Retention and Engagement

A diverse workforce operating in an inclusive environment is a powerful driver of our ability to innovate and grow. Diversity of backgrounds and perspectives helps us better understand and represent the markets that we serve. An inclusive environment allows those talents to develop and be expressed to their fullest.

Nielsen proactively recruits employees in multicultural communities, including our support of high-potential high school and college students who start their careers with us through relationships with organizations like the Posse Foundation and the Emma Bowen Foundation.

Our Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is designed to nurture personal growth and enhance leadership skills of college students or recent graduates. During their time in the program at Nielsen, candidates are exposed to a diverse and challenging set of rotational assignments, intensive training, mentoring and unparalleled opportunities to network with and learn from our most senior leaders. Upon graduation from the program, participants are well-prepared for a career at Nielsen and beyond because of their fast-tracked experiences to take on a critical role within their area of expertise. We have visited more than 70 campuses searching for the best talent interested in the areas of Finance, Human Resources, Consumer Analytics, Product Leadership and Operations & Technology to engage in our multi-track ELP programs.

More broadly, through career fairs and speaking engagements, our Global Talent Acquisition team interacts with students and shares career opportunities as part of our widespread international recruitment efforts.

Nielsen has also worked diligently to employ strong global leadership training programs for high-potential associates from underrepresented groups. One of the learning and development programs we offer is an 18-month “mini-MBA” leadership development program called the Diverse Leadership Network (DLN), which is focused on cross-cultural coaching, executive networking, course curriculum, faculty workshops and case studies. Frequent exposure to senior leadership is also a part of the process.


Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-driven groups that are organized to create an open forum for idea exchange. ERGs operate under four focus areas: recruitment/networking, professional development, education/engagement and community outreach. All ERGs have two senior leaders as sponsors—an Executive Sponsor (a Senior Vice President or above) and a Nielsen Global Leadership Sponsor (a member of our CEO’s executive team). We currently have the following seven ERG groups: Asian Americans Link (AAL), Abled and Disabled Employees Partnering Together (ADEPT), Hispanic Organization of Leaders in Action (HOLA), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Allies (PRIDE), Sustaining Active Black Leadership and Empowerment (SABLE), Support and Employee Resources for Veterans (SERV) and Women in Nielsen (WIN). While these groups began in the U.S., the ERGs began expanding globally in 2011, particularly the WIN, PRIDE and ADEPT groups.

Speaking a Common Language

To kick off our Diversity & Inclusion program going global, we have invested in training the entire company to speak the same language about diversity & inclusion: how we define these terms and why they are so important for our business.

The training, called “Managing an Inclusive Work Environment,” focuses on the following areas in which managers (and their teams) learn to:

• Understand the business impact of diversity and inclusion
• Manage personal biases
• Drive and promote inclusion at Nielsen
• Speak up when witnessing behaviors that are not inclusive
• Engage with “new” groups versus gravitating to the same, more familiar people and teams
• Create or join ERGs

With this training as the foundation, we have also been working with regional leaders to gain a greater understanding of the most relevant areas of focus for inclusion in the region. To do this, we have created a framework that would help each region build a Diversity & Inclusion plan based on the impact they want to realize within each region. The global framework utilizes five key pillars:

  1. Raise basic awareness of diversity
  2. Discover and analyze unconscious bias through training
  3. Understand and apply lessons learned
  4. Infuse Diversity & Inclusion throughout the organization
  5. Realize measured change

In continuing to expand training globally, we also introduced “Unconscious Bias” training in 2015. The goal of this training is to allow our employees to recognize the biases we all have and to mitigate them by developing the capacity to be alerted when these are “at work,” practice constructive uncertainty, explore awkwardness and discomfort, engage with people different from ourselves and expose ourselves to positive role models in those groups so we can validate our decision-making without bias.

Market Insights

In addition to Nielsen’s relentless focus on Diversity & Inclusion among our associates and suppliers, Nielsen also issues a unique industry-wide Diverse Intelligence Series of insights to help marketers take a closer look at today’s multicultural population, featuring actionable in-depth insights into the lifestyle, media and purchase behaviors of African-American, Asian and Hispanic consumers in the U.S. today. In 2015, our Diverse Intelligence Series included the following reports: Asian-Americans: Culturally Connected and Forging the Future; Increasingly Affluent, Educated and Diverse – African-American Consumers: The Untold Story, and The New American Vanguard – Latinos 50+: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.

Asian-Americans-culturally connected

The company also released reports on LGBT consumers, including U.S. LGBT Shoppers Make More Trips, Spend More Than Average. Additional insights were also shared about households with intellectual disabilities, Quantifying the Market Power of Households with Intellectual Disabilities, a joint project with Special Olympics Inc.

Multicultural Community Outreach

In 2015, Nielsen’s outreach through our U.S.-based Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement team included advertising campaigns, event sponsorships and memberships in dozens of organizations. Our multicultural outreach philanthropic priorities include organizations with a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, diversity & inclusion and civic/social justice.

Community AAL SW - Copy

We also have three External Advisory Councils (EACs) that are composed of business leaders, community leaders and notable industry experts who represent the African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian Pacific-American communities. These External Advisory Councils share their views on how Nielsen can better recruit, represent and reflect the unique purchasing and viewing habits of multicultural communities.

These councils come together multiple times a year with Nielsen’s executive leaders to ensure that the collective voices of multicultural consumers are heard, while representing Nielsen as ambassadors within their respective communities. Of course, we recognize that our efforts have a business benefit in addition to the societal impact we hope to achieve, capturing market insights that provide revenue opportunities for Nielsen and for our clients. By reaching thousands of multicultural consumers, we strive to create awareness about Nielsen’s measurement efforts and how all voices matter, as we continue to lead the conversation about consumers’ purchasing power.

Client Solutions

Nielsen’s Multicultural Center of Excellence works with client service teams to market to the multicultural consumer and partners with clients to identify new products and services that will appeal to these consumers.

Supplier Diversity

Nielsen’s Supplier Diversity program seeks opportunities to partner with companies that are certified, owned, operated and controlled by minorities, women, veterans, people with disabilities and LGBT owners. In addition to finding transactional partnerships, we seek revenue-generating opportunities, strategic alliances, client engagements and educational platforms to mentor our current or prospective diverse suppliers.

To learn more about the important role supplier diversity plays in our overall commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, please visit our Supply Chain section.

Accountability and Measurement

We utilize trend analysis of representation, movement, recruitment, retention and spend to hold us accountable for our diversity commitments to celebrate our progress, share best practices across the company and measure our inclusion.

Awards and Recognition

Diversity is a business imperative for Nielsen. Nevertheless, we appreciate recognition for our efforts:

  • Nielsen was named to DiversityInc’s 2015 Top 50 Companies for Diversity ranking for the second consecutive year.  Advancing eight spots from 2014, Nielsen was ranked No. 42 in 2015.


  • The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), an LGBT advocacy organization, awarded Nielsen a perfect score of 100% on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality. Nielsen joins the ranks of 364 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks in 2015 for the second year in a row.

HRC visual

Going forward, we plan to create additional Global Inclusion Councils in 2016—to expand on the councils we currently have in the U.S. and Europe—to advance our global view of Diversity & Inclusion, giving us the chance to leverage overall learning from associates around the world on a continuous basis, share best practices, exchange knowledge of cultural nuances, enhance the experiences of our ERGs and increase mentoring and professional development opportunities.

Please visit our Organizational Profile section for more information about what diversity looks like at Nielsen across our regions.