Who We Are, What We Do
Nielsen Holdings plc is a leading global provider of information and insights about consumers and markets worldwide. We fuse science and data so that our clients—manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods, media companies and advertising agencies—can understand what’s happening today, what will happen tomorrow and how to act on this knowledge to efficiently deliver results that matter. In short, we provide The Science Behind What’s Next™.
Our Watch & Buy Segments
Nielsen’s services are organized into two business segments: Watch and Buy. On the Watch side, we give media companies and advertising agencies the most complete view available of what’s being watched, and by whom, across all platforms, devices and channels. Our business is independent, third-party measurement. We don’t create content and we don’t buy or sell ad placements. What we care about is producing rigorous, independent, accurate data on which our clients can depend.
Built on our data of record, our analytics solutions enable media companies to segment their audiences with depth, precision and efficiency, so they can highlight the right audience for advertisers’ goals. Our analytics also help ad agencies design, implement and evaluate campaigns that deliver on clients’ business goals.
One of our most important initiatives within the Watch segment is Nielsen Total Audience. It measures the content people view—and the ads to which they are exposed—across video, audio and text and across all types of screens and digital channels. We then connect this data in a way that lets clients make apples-to-apples comparisons across these platforms and devices.
On the Buy side, we give manufacturers and retailers the most complete view available of what is being bought, who is buying it, and when and where they’re buying it, in more than 100 countries. We invented the discipline of consumer market research, and our market share data is mission critical to clients across the industry.
Our Buy software and analytics help manufacturers’ innovation, marketing and sales teams improve business performance—for example, by making it easier to develop and test new product concepts and forecast demand. And they show retailers how to efficiently attract more of the right customers, keep them in the store longer and make their experience more enjoyable.
Our key initiative in the Buy segment is the Connected System, an open, cloud-based platform that allows clients to quickly determine what’s happened with their business, the reason behind sales and market share changes, and what they should do next as a result. The Connected System’s analytic apps support our clients’ everyday decisions around innovation, distribution, price, promotion and media. We launched the Connected System in 2017 with five charter clients and have since engaged closely with 25 additional clients. In total, we have 170 clients using one or more components of the Connected System, and we are continuing to accelerate deployment in 2018.
Our workforce transformation to support all of our key initiatives is detailed in the Our People section.
Finally, our Marketing Effectiveness team connects what consumers Watch to what they Buy. Marketing Effectiveness combines unique data assets, data science and technology to help our clients share the right message with the right person, at the right time and in the right place. When our clients leverage these tools, their advertising is more precise and effective.
In both the Watch and Buy segments, we employ data scientists, economists, engineers, technologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, field auditors and more, all of whom have a passion for collecting comprehensive, accurate data and turning it into positive business results for clients. Our associates’ actions are driven by our four corporate values—open, connected, useful, personal—and their work every day seeks to increase the efficiency of the clients and markets we serve.
See the Solutions page of our corporate website for a complete description of our service offerings. Our value creation model is also a useful resource for understanding the unique nature of our business.
“We have put sustainable living at the heart of our business. Purpose—an authentic and culturally connected purpose—is the heart of our brands, powering each brand, driving meaning and relevance. We are committed to collaborating with partners like Nielsen as we continue to deliver growth by serving society and the planet while improving the lives of the people we serve.” – Nicola McLaren, Cultural & Foresight Strategist, Unilever
Our Field Operations
Before any data can be analyzed and ultimately used by our clients, it must be collected. At present, our field associates work around the world to capture the data and information that’s central to our business.
On the Watch side, our associates recruit the panelists whose TV-watching habits form the basis of our datasets. Our technicians maintain the equipment that captures, stores and transmits that data to Nielsen. In the U.S., we make about 180,000 visits to panelists’ homes every year; we expect this number to decrease as we move forward with our Path to 2020 and continue to leverage technology that will both save time and further reduce our carbon footprint.
On the Buy side, our associates go where consumers go, measuring their purchases in store and online. To give a worldwide view, we have been capturing global fast-moving consumer goods sales using both remote technology and individuals on the ground. We monitor purchases electronically via barcode scans from more than 2.5 million stores. And we currently employ in-field auditors in our Retail Measurement Services (RMS) operation who manually audit more than 5 million “traditional trade” stores (e.g., mom-and-pop shops, kiosks) in urban and rural locations around the globe.
We also conduct in-person interviews for both our Watch and Buy segments. In fact, in 2017, we conducted more than 15 million interviews across 90 markets. Our Command Center manages and ensures high quality in the interviewing process, tracking interviewer location in real time and utilizing voice-over questionnaire administration for all tracking studies, to eliminate interviewer bias.
We seek to be transparent with clients about any quality issues that may occur and to understand the root causes of problems so we can prevent them in the future. Nielsen Scarborough, for example, notifies clients whenever data are delayed and communicates projected delivery dates as soon as they are available. Nielsen Audio also works closely with customers to clearly communicate about quality issues when they occur. The end-to-end retooling of our data collection and processing systems, discussed in the next section, is expected to help minimize data defects and delays and modernize our processes.
See our Nielsen Around the World website for more on how our field teams carry out their work around the globe.
How We Stay Resilient in an Era of Change
Consumer behavior changes constantly and rapidly, as our clients well know. It’s our job to not only keep up with those changes, but get ahead of them. Throughout our 95-year history, we’ve stayed ahead of the curve through countless disruptive changes—from the days of radio through the advent of network TV, cable and now online streaming and shopping via mobile devices.
Our business strategy assumes constant change, which is why we have been, and will remain, resilient as a company. At present, we are in the midst of a long-term evolution from being primarily a services company that uses technology to being primarily a technology company that provides services. Watch this video interview with John Tavolieri, Chief Technology & Operations Officer and President, U.S. Buy, Nielsen, for more information about this long-term approach:
Our Path to 2020 plan focuses on investing in innovation to drive growth and efficiency. This includes investing in automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence—for example, automating our Buy data collection and Watch operations end-to-end across the company by 2020. These significant investments will transform our company, bringing benefits in quality, speed and flexibility, along with new capabilities such as the ability to capture new data sets and provide real-time data. As we roll out the technology needed to do this, we also plan to grow our associates’ skills and technological fluency and ensure they keep a transformative mindset, so that we can translate the vast amount of data we collect into meaningful solutions.
One way we stay abreast of key technology advancements is through acquisitions. In the last three years, we have completed 15 acquisitions. Those deals include Visual IQ, vBrand, Gracenote, Repucom (now Nielsen Sports), Pointlogic (now Nielsen Media Impact), eXelate (now Nielsen Marketing Cloud) and Brandbank. Since 2012, we have invested more than $2 billion in strategic acquisitions that expand our capabilities across our business.
We’ve also been implementing some significant changes to the way we organize our business. In 2017, for example, we transformed the organizational structure of our Watch segment, grouping our associates into Client Sales & Service, Product Leadership & Solutions Support and Enabling Functions. This new structure will enable us to better support our clients, grow our business and create more opportunities for our people. We also transformed our Sales Operations team—moving more than 3,000 employees into new roles and creating a new client engagement process—to better match our solutions to clients’ needs. And we significantly improved how we monitor and supervise RMS auditors in the field, as well as retail data, creating what we call a Quality Control Tower (QCT) that has remote, real-time visibility into store audits. QCT was implemented in 14 markets in 2017 and will expand to 95% of markets by 2020. In recognition of our efforts in this area, the Market Research Society of India awarded us first runner-up for QCT for the Lalit S. Kanodia Award in 2017, and the Process Excellence Network (PEX) awarded us first runner-up for Best Process Improvement Enabled by Technology at their OPEX Week in 2018.
We hold ourselves to the highest internal standards of quality when it comes to our products and services. As it relates to our Buy business, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards are among the most often requested by our clients. ISO is an independent, non-governmental, international organization that develops voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards. Where applicable, we verify compliance with ISO standards through independent, third-party audits. As it relates to our responsible supply chain efforts, a member from our supply chain sustainability team served on the Technical Advisory Committee to help develop the ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement Standard.
Over the last several years we have also more explicitly incorporated environmental, social and governance issues into our business strategy and way of doing business, as discussed in the next section and throughout this report.
“Whether through creative problem solving, delivering presentations to senior stakeholders, owning client relationships, or defining your next career move, Nielsen is built around a sense of openness that allows people to flourish and develop.” – Josh, Senior Client Manager, Retailer Services, U.K. #ExperienceNielsen
Our Global Responsibility & Sustainability Strategy
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are central to our business and to our success today and in the future. We know we can’t just deliver results for our clients; we must also operate ethically, treat our associates fairly, care for the broader environment and communities in which we operate, and minimize negative impacts through both our own operations and our supply chain.
Our Global Responsibility & Sustainability strategy encompasses all ESG issues that affect our business, operations, and internal and external stakeholders. To determine which ESG issues are of most importance to our company and our stakeholders, we conduct a non-financial materiality assessment every two years. Our first non-financial materiality assessment covered 2014-2015, while our second and most recent assessment covered 2016-2017. Through this process, which is described in detail on the materiality assessment page of our website, we identified the following key ESG issues as most important, both in terms of our stakeholders’ views and in terms of the issues’ current and potential impact on Nielsen’s economic, environmental and social value:
To measure the effectiveness of our ESG strategy, we have set ambitious goals in several of these areas. We expect that continuing to set goals will help push us forward, drive progress and reduce negative impacts. Each of the goals, as well as progress to date against them, is described in the relevant sections of this report.
While it is the responsibility of all teams within Nielsen to consider relevant ESG impacts in their everyday work, we manage most ESG risks and opportunities centrally through our Global Responsibility & Sustainability team, infusing these considerations into regular engagement with our Board of Directors, internal sustainability governance councils, functional groups and teams, and other forums. The Governance section of this report describes in more detail how these issues are managed.
We do not consider our business strategy and ESG issues to be separate—they are thoroughly intertwined. We integrate relevant ESG issues into our business strategy by connecting sustainability challenges, risks and opportunities with our business interests in order to drive triple-bottom-line, long-term thinking across the organization. In all areas, we work to mitigate risk, maximize opportunities and uncover operational efficiencies—proactively connecting ESG risks and opportunities to critical business issues to act as a catalyst for improvement and change.
“Nestlé’s purpose is enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. Our focus areas are firmly embedded in our purpose. Individuals and families, our communities and the planet as a whole are interconnected, and our efforts in each of these areas are supported through our 42 public commitments, aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We recognize the power of our global supply chain in accelerating these efforts, and we’re committed to continuing to work with suppliers like Nielsen to achieve these shared goals and create a brighter future for all, together.” – Tom Buday, Head of Marketing & Consumer Communication, Nestlé
Nielsen is privileged to interact with a variety of external individuals and organizations in our regular course of business. The primary types of stakeholders interested in Nielsen include clients, suppliers, consumers who share their data with us, and investors. We also engage with industry associations and non-profit organizations; our Nielsen External Advisory Councils; the local communities in which we live and work; and regulators and public officials. We also have important internal stakeholders, of course—our own employees.
We identify and confirm these key stakeholder categories through our regular non-financial materiality assessments. In our most recent assessment covering 2016-2017, we sought a broad range of internal and external perspectives to ensure that input was appropriately balanced. To gather input, we reviewed stakeholder feedback through existing documentation, web commentary, webinars, surveys, social and traditional media content, as well as in-depth virtual and in-person interviews and focus groups. We made a concerted effort to get focused feedback from all stakeholders—whether directly or through proxies—on our long-term strategy, goals, challenges and opportunities.
In addition to engaging through our non-financial materiality process, we interact with stakeholders regularly throughout the year, as described in the examples below. Because of the nature of our business—collecting and analyzing data and feedback from consumers so that our clients can better understand the forces that influence consumer behavior, and ultimately improve their business strategies—we uniquely understand the importance of hearing from a diverse group of stakeholders about all aspects of our business and operations, in order to continue to drive improvements going forward.
Clients: We engage with clients on a regular basis, both individually and through client committees, with the objective of gaining direct input and insights that will enhance the quality of our measurement for the industries we serve. Nielsen Scarborough, for example, holds two Advisory Council meetings per year to garner client feedback on new initiatives. Similarly, Nielsen Audio holds biannual meetings of its Audio Advisory Council, which is composed of C-suite clients representing a broad cross-section of clients. In addition, we hold biannual meetings of a Policy and Guidelines Committee composed of research leaders to discuss methodology and policies. Our minimum target threshold for client satisfaction is 4.25 out of 5, as measured through the Nielsen Client Helpline. We aim to continually trend upward as we work to improve our clients’ experiences.
Media Research: The Media Rating Council (MRC) plays an important role in providing third-party validation that Nielsen’s products and services meet or exceed the highest industry standards. While participation in the MRC process is voluntary, we take this relationship very seriously. In fact, we submit more products to be reviewed by the MRC than any other measurement company in the world, and we have a dedicated team that supports the MRC accreditation audit process year-round. In addition to the accreditation process, Nielsen engages with the MRC in other ways, providing valuable industry leadership by participating in working groups, standard-building projects and other conversations on matters relevant to the media measurement industry.
Suppliers: We engage with key suppliers on ESG issues multiple times a year—in person at their facilities, on conference calls and at conferences. We require standardized, third-party assessments of suppliers’ ESG performance, which then serve as catalysts for meaningful engagement and discussion via our sourcing managers, in an effort to drive continuous improvement. We’ve also developed a Supplier Toolkit as a resource for suppliers to help improve their sustainability performance.
Consumers: We have extensive contacts with individuals and families all over the globe as we collect data to better understand consumer behavior. Our field and membership representatives and retail auditors visit panelists’ homes and local stores worldwide to collect data. We are committed to acting in the best interest of those consumers, especially in terms of protecting the privacy and security of their information.
Investors: Our Investor Relations team engages regularly with investors through individual meetings, conferences, non-deal roadshows, quarterly earnings calls and an annual investor day. Details about our investor engagement can be found on our Investor Relations site, where we also provide information for investors about our ESG efforts through resources such as our ESG Highlights document and a dedicated slide in our Investor Overview. For more information about how we engage with our investors, watch the following video interview with our SVP of Investor Relations, Sara Gubins:
Industry Associations: We recognize the importance of engaging with industry trade organizations, strategic business partners, industry influencers, value-added resellers, and non-governmental and community organizations. For example, we meet twice a year with the National Association of Broadcasters’ Committee on Local Radio Audience Measurement to review product, research and methodology priorities and enhancements. We also meet twice a year with the National Radio Research Committee to review products, research and policies related to our national measurement services in the U.S. A comprehensive list of our association memberships is provided in the GRI Content Index.
Nielsen External Advisory Councils: We seek out ideas and insights from external stakeholders to help us strengthen our diversity and inclusion efforts. For more than a decade, we have maintained three External Advisory Councils composed of diverse data and measurement industry experts and business and community leaders: the African-American Advisory Council (AAAC), the Asian Pacific American Advisory Council (APAAC) and the Hispanic/Latino Advisory Council (HLAC). These trusted advisors have shared their views on how Nielsen can better recruit, represent and reflect diverse populations. Twice a year, the three councils meet with Nielsen executives to share ideas and updates around micro and macro trends that impact U.S. multicultural communities. Council members are both our accountability partners and our ambassadors within their respective communities.
Communities: We regularly donate volunteer time and pro bono data to non-profit organizations around the globe in an effort to make a tangible difference in our communities. More information about these ongoing efforts can be found in the Our World section of this report.
Employees: We have employees in every major region of the globe, so we work hard to keep in close communication with them and ensure we are all aligned and working toward common goals. As it relates to our field staff, for example, we hold quarterly Town Hall meetings with field personnel in different regions around the globe, in addition to in-person meetings with senior leadership, to share updates about our business strategy, processes, progress and key activities. We also seek feedback and input from field personnel through quarterly Pulse surveys, our Open Door anonymous feedback portal (launched in 2017) and our Field Ops Solution Center, which provides a way for field associates to submit innovative ideas and suggestions. Companywide, we conduct a myVoice employee engagement survey every year; the survey includes questions on engagement, compensation and work–life balance, among other topics. All Nielsen employees are encouraged to engage across functions and geographies through companywide resources, such as our Google Plus suite of online communities for collaboration and information sharing, as well as through regular global Town Hall meetings and other events. We also have Employee Resource Groups which are voluntary, employee-led engagement opportunities to develop skills and assist the organization with recruitment, retention, community outreach, professional development, education and engagement.
Kelle Coleman, Industry Partnerships & Events Head, Nielsen
Our Industry Partnerships and Events teams came under the same umbrella for the first time in 2017. We’re all about amplifying, creating and designing innovative face-to-face experiences. When you think about the complexity of the work we’re trusted to do everyday, these experiences help to bring our data and science to bear on creating the new ideas that will drive our clients—and the broader industry—forward.
Whether it’s sharing over-the-top (OTT) viewing behavior trends at the National Association of Television Program Executives annual conference, or exploring the intersection of technology and measurement at the Consumer Electronics Show, it’s through this spirit of connection and collaboration that we can help accelerate innovation.
Our team works to drive a future-focused engagement strategy that is inclusive of the diverse industries and clients that we serve around the world. It seems simple, but it’s critical to our team’s strategy—and Nielsen’s broader mission—to make sure that our events and industry collaborations reflect this important diversity in direct ways. Whether it’s the people you see speaking on a stage, or the experts we elevate to share their insights on behalf of Nielsen, diversity is critical to us in those contexts as well as a foundational part of the overall talent pipeline for Nielsen.
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to execute on creating these powerful experiences for our clients and associates to connect. One of the aspects we consider is the environmental sustainability of the work that we do. We’ve worked with the Global Responsibility & Sustainability team to develop a shared understanding of what Nielsen’s Green Meeting Guidelines mean for our work. Whether it’s reducing food waste, using digital tools to cut down on paper use or encouraging participants to take public transportation—we know these small steps add up to reducing our overall footprint in a big way.
“What I love most about Nielsen is the ability to continue to grow as a person by being supported through the multiple groups within the company that allow me to make an impact outside of my everyday responsibilities. Most recently, I was able to make a difference for the first responders of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey through Operation Gratitude. It was wonderful to see the marrying of my work as a co-lead for our Support and Employee Resource for Veterans (SERV) Employee Resource Group and Nielsen Cares with Operation Gratitude, and most importantly, make a difference in the lives of those putting theirs on hold to help others.” – Nicole, Sr. Project Manager, Chicago #ExperienceNielsen
Public Policy & Government Relations
Our Public Policy & Government Relations team interacts with elected officials to explain our products and promote the use of measurement to create thriving markets and communities. We advocate on issues related to our business, such as U.S. Census funding, diversity in media, media ownership, tax reform, net neutrality, e-privacy, e-commerce, digital advertising, TV audience measurement and more.
Nielsen does not currently use corporate funds to make direct contributions to candidates, political parties, political action committees (PACs), SuperPACs, political committees, 527 groups, ballot question committees, or 501(c)(4) organizations, or to pay for independent expenditures. We maintain a federal PAC, which allows eligible Nielsen employees to pool their resources and support candidates whose positions are consistent with Nielsen’s. Our Nielsen Code of Conduct includes a section on participating fairly and lawfully in political processes; it expressly prohibits employees from attending political events or making donations on Nielsen’s behalf or using Nielsen funds.
As it relates to tax, we are committed to complying with tax laws in a responsible manner and to having open, constructive and transparent relationships with tax authorities everywhere we operate around the globe. We have a publicly available tax policy, which applies to Nielsen Holdings plc and all subsidiary Nielsen entities; it is composed of five key components: tax planning, relationships with governments, transparency, tax risk management and governance.
See the Public Policy page of our website for complete information about our government relations work, including links to detailed reports about our lobbying activities and expenditures.
At the Board of Directors level, Nielsen’s Nomination & Corporate Governance Committee reviews the company’s policies, practices and positions relating to corporate citizenship and sustainability. As such, the committee oversees corporate social responsibility, environmental quality, climate change and diversity and inclusion, among other environmental, social and governance (ESG) areas. The Board considers the impact of these areas on Nielsen’s internal and external stakeholders, including our employees, clients, suppliers and investors. The Nomination & Corporate Governance Committee is also responsible for director nomination, Board composition, succession planning and Board and committee evaluations.
The Board’s Audit Committee has oversight over our Compliance & Integrity program, which covers issues relating to ethics and anti-corruption, and regularly hears reports from our Compliance & Integrity team. The Audit Committee oversees the hiring, independence and performance of external auditors; the financial reporting and disclosure process; tax; Nielsen’s internal audit function, process and internal controls; and our risk management and compliance process.
The Board’s Compensation Committee is responsible for overseeing executive compensation, incentive and equity-based compensation plans, compensation-related disclosure under applicable laws, director compensation, and talent development and employee engagement.
All directors are elected individually to the Board on an annual basis. Our Board is led by a non-executive and independent chairman. As of March 2018, the median age of our directors was 61. Independent directors make up 88.9 percent of the Board. As of December 2017, the average tenure of the Board was 5.1 years. Each director is restricted to serving on a maximum of five boards while on our Board. Director orientation and continuing training is required for all directors by our Corporate Governance Guidelines. The Corporate Governance section of our Investor Relations website includes complete information on our Board composition and responsibilities, Board committee charters and corporate governance guidelines, as well as our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Proxy Statement.
Within Nielsen, our Global Responsibility & Sustainability (GR&S) team oversees and manages our global ESG strategy and reporting, Nielsen Cares (our social responsibility and employee volunteering efforts), Nielsen Green (our environmental sustainability activities), our Data for Good program, and grant-making through the Nielsen Foundation. This team is led by the senior vice president of GR&S, who reports to our Chief Legal Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer and presents to the Board at least once per year. Among other responsibilities, the GR&S team, along with a variety of functions and teams, ensures alignment with relevant environmental mandates and other requirements such as compliance with local laws. Compliance is managed both globally and locally, depending on the team responsible for the relevant operation or local execution of our global strategy.
Other key ESG issues are managed outside of the GR&S function. For example, workforce and labor relations issues are managed by our Human Resources department, led by a Chief Human Resources Officer who reports to our CEO. Supply chain sustainability is overseen by our Global Procurement function. All aspects of diversity and inclusion are overseen by our Chief Diversity Officer, who reports directly to our CEO. Privacy issues are managed by our Chief Privacy Officer, who works with a team of attorneys dedicated to handling privacy compliance with oversight from our Chief Legal Officer. Our Chief Information Security Officer oversees our Cyber Security team and reports to our Chief Information Officer. Senior management is kept informed of cyber security status and information through daily cyber intelligence reports, security operational reviews, monthly threat briefings, audit committee presentations and Enterprise Risk Management participation.
Our Chief Legal Officer has responsibility for risk management performance throughout Nielsen and reports to our CEO and Board. The Board’s Audit Committee is updated at each regular meeting on enterprise risk issues at Nielsen. Once a year, Nielsen’s management team formally updates the Audit Committee on the company’s Enterprise Risk Management process (discussed below) and the top risks that emerge from meetings with business leaders throughout the company. Within Nielsen, structurally independent teams are focused on managing financial and business risks. These teams include Corporate Reporting and Analysis, Corporate Audit, Treasury, Privacy, Compliance & Integrity, Security, and Business Quality and Compliance. Our corporate executive team’s approach to addressing risks, and their ability to effectively respond to them, is tied to their compensation as part of a multidimensional, comprehensive view.
All Nielsen leaders have responsibility for ESG issues in some way. For example, the management of energy- and waste-reduction efforts is integrated into our management review process with senior leadership and our Technology/Operations Sustainability Council (discussed below). Our Chief Technology Officer oversees our data center efficiency efforts, which also aim to reduce energy use. Our Real Estate and Facilities staff also sets targets for the reduction of waste and energy across our operational footprint.
Finally, the GR&S team maintains a set of three leadership committees focused on various aspects of ESG risks and opportunities both within and beyond Nielsen. The Global Citizenship & Sustainability Council, launched in 2014, is composed of cross-functional leaders who are frequently called on to advise on aligning new and existing initiatives to ensure that Nielsen is continuously making progress in all areas of long-term citizenship and sustainability. The Technology/Operations Sustainability Council focuses on connecting our global ESG efforts with our Path to 2020 across groups within the Tech/Ops function, such as Global Procurement, Finance, Technology, Real Estate, Architecture and Infrastructure. Finally, the Human Resources Sustainability Council embeds our global ESG efforts within our focus on sustainable workforce development and social impact, across groups within HR such as Compensation & Benefits, Talent Analytics, Talent Attraction & Retention and Talent Engagement & Development.
Eric Dale, Chief Legal Officer, Nielsen
The foundation of the work that we do at Nielsen is trust. Over more than 90 years, the integrity of our data and systems has been our most important asset. When you’re in the business of trust, it means your word is your bond. In order for our work to have value, this commitment to integrity must be present across all of our teams and interactions, every single day.
This is especially true for our Legal & Corporate Affairs (LCA) team. In 2017, we expanded our team beyond the traditional Legal function to include other critical functions for our business, like Global Responsibility & Sustainability; Government Relations & Public Policy; Security; and Enterprise Risk Management. While natural collaboration and communication had always been present across these and other teams, this new structure has allowed for more streamlined strategy and execution.
“Connected” is one of our core values at Nielsen. Our LCA team is a prime example of how this value of being connected works in action. Whether it’s our intellectual property and litigation teams working to protect our assets or our data privacy team advising our operational and product leaders on data collection enhancements—being connected as a team is the only way we can all succeed together and create value for our clients, investors and the communities where we live and work around the globe.
This Nielsen Global Responsibility Report is focused on how our environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy aligns with our core business. To say these are connected wouldn’t tell the whole story—they are truly one and the same. The lines between ESG and business are blurred at Nielsen for a reason; we recognize how critical it is to operate in a responsible and sustainable way in order to be viable over the long term.
Ultimately it’s our feeling of connection with each other that makes us effective and that helps give purpose to our work. It’s a critical component of how Nielsen creates value for all of our constituents.
“Acting with integrity is important to me—not only for my job, but also for my family. In the work that we all do everyday, we have Nielsen’s reputation in our hands. I’m happy to be able to share this message about the importance of integrity with all associates through my role as an Integrity Ambassador.” – Ana Laura Barro Guevara, Client Business Partner & Integrity Ambassador, México, Nielsen
Compliance & Integrity
Our global Compliance & Integrity program is dedicated to ensuring ethical and compliant behavior across Nielsen—from the C-suite through to the most junior associates all over the world. Our Code of Conduct is a core element of this program.
The Code establishes clear expectations and guidelines prohibiting corruption, bribery, facilitation payments, fraud, discrimination, antitrust/anti-competitive practices, money laundering, insider trading and more; it also requires associates to avoid and disclose conflicts of interest. The Code sets forth expectations and guidelines for positive behaviors, including treating everyone with respect, valuing diversity, protecting human rights and speaking up to report Code violations without fear of retaliation. Underlying the expectations and guidelines of the Code are more-detailed internal policies—for example, an Anti-Corruption Compliance Policy—to guide associates in their day-to-day activities.
We introduced a new, updated Code of Conduct in 2017. Our goal in updating the Code was to ensure the company’s expectations and guidelines were clear and relevant to our associates. Our process involved a comprehensive review of the prior Code, benchmarking against industry peers and “best practice” codes, and consultation with leaders across Nielsen. Our Board of Directors approved the final Code; it’s available in more than 45 languages and applies to all Nielsen associates, including employees of wholly owned, majority-owned or controlled subsidiaries, except for employees in France. We aim to get the Code adopted in France in 2018.
We ask our Board and all employees to certify that they understand and will abide by the Code. Certification for employees to the new Code launched in early 2018, following a mandatory online training course. Training and certification will be annual for all employees thereafter. Additionally, a Leading with Integrity training is available in the Manager Excellence learning path of our internal Learning Management System; this training covers how managers should (and should not) handle integrity reports that come to them. More than 1,000 managers have received this training since it was refreshed in the middle of 2017.
We conduct periodic live and online training and risk assessments to help ensure we comply with relevant anti-corruption laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the United States and the U.K. Bribery Act. In addition, our Corporate Audit Staff (CAS) team provides detailed questionnaires to local business contacts from Finance, Human Resources, Operations and Sales regarding their knowledge of anti-corruption obligations and any potentially corrupt payments. CAS reviews the responses and escalates any red flags. CAS also reviews financial disbursements to ensure proper controls are followed in high-risk areas such as business travel, entertainment and panel incentives.
Additionally, as it relates to our Accounts Payable process to mitigate sourcing risk, all new vendors are vetted by Global Procurement before being inputted into our vendor master database. Throughout our comprehensive vetting process, Nielsen uses 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 no regulatory enforcement actions in progress. We also conduct a world-check risk screening.
Our Integrity (formerly Ombudsman) Program encourages associates to Speak Up about any concerns of misconduct without fear of retaliation. Our Speak Up tools include a telephone and web helpline and email addresses to contact Compliance & Integrity Leaders. This is our primary grievance mechanism available to all Nielsen employees around the world. It is managed by the Compliance & Integrity team. Through Speak Up, our nine Compliance & Integrity Leaders intake reports of misconduct (directly or through the Integrity Helpline) and ensure that the concerns are reviewed and investigated in an impartial and timely fashion. Details about how to call the helpline or file a claim online–including direct contact information for Integrity Leaders by country–are available in our Code of Conduct, on our intranet and on materials posted in offices.
In 2017 we held a poster contest in which associates worldwide designed a new Speak Up poster. Associates voted on the entries, and the winning poster (from Thailand) is now hung throughout offices around the world. The poster reinforces our Speak Up culture and provides contact information for raising concerns. We also include a link to the Integrity Helpline webform on the “favorites” bar in every associate’s browser on their Nielsen computer.
When a Code of Conduct violation is substantiated, an assessment is made as to whether discipline is required and, if so, what level of discipline. Discipline can vary from warnings to termination.
In 2017 we enhanced the reach of our Compliance & Integrity program with the launch of our Integrity Ambassador program. Currently active in 29 countries, the Integrity Ambassadors serve as “diplomats” of integrity in our offices, spreading the word about Nielsen’s expectations for ethical behavior, how to find answers to questions about doing the right thing and how to raise a concern when something doesn’t seem right. The Ambassadors are building communication plans tailored to each particular market, participating in town halls and building awareness of expectations and resources, all of which helps to ensure compliance with our Code of Conduct. We plan to gradually roll out the Ambassador program globally.
Hear From Our Integrity Ambassadors
Hammad Farooqui, Key Strategy Program Leader, Middle East, Pakistan, North & West Africa, and Integrity Ambassador, UAE & KSA, Nielsen
My experience as an Integrity Ambassador started with a town hall meeting, which gave me the opportunity to share our global focus on integrity with a broad audience across the area I cover. I only got 10 minutes on that first agenda, but the enthusiasm and the interest were extraordinary. We had associates engaging with …
Vinay Joshi, Associate Director, RMS Service, India, and Integrity Ambassador, Mumbai, Nielsen
Our business is all about data. We have lots of security measures in place, but integrity is the job of every employee. In order for us to be effective in that, we need to have a lot of awareness about what we should and should not do. No matter whether it’s a client or an internal …
“Through the Integrity Ambassador program, we’re connecting teams across the world. Getting to know the knowledge from other markets helps us all improve.” – Amr Ashmawy, Field Operations Leader, Egypt and West Africa, & Integrity Ambassador, Egypt, Nielsen
“As I became more involved and informed about integrity issues, I decided to take on the additional role of Integrity Ambassador for the Netherlands. Becoming an official Integrity Ambassador within Nielsen is a learning process for me as well, and these learnings can be applied to my other job activities, or even personal activities outside Nielsen. The Integrity process aims to get all the facts clear, without personal interpretation or assumptions.” – John Dix, Secretary, Central Works Council, & Integrity Ambassador, Netherlands, Nielsen
“My purpose in life is to leave a personal integrity footprint that can build a culture of integrity around me. I believe the secret of a happy life is to find out one’s destiny and then do it. By acting with integrity and helping others to do the same, we can create an environment in which integrity is the baseline. I’m thrilled to lead the Global Integrity Ambassadors Program as we continue to grow the impact that our Ambassadors are working to spread around the world. I believe that the secret to the success of the program is to be of value in the way we do business.” – Denise Guillén, VP, Legal & Compliance, & Integrity Leader, LATAM, Nielsen
Like all companies, Nielsen is not exempt from certain risks that could materially and adversely affect our company. Our 10-K includes detail on the risks we face, including issues relating to emerging technology, privacy, cyber security, corruption and fraud, among others.
Our ERM Process
Our Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework helps us to identify, evaluate, manage and develop mitigation plans for financial and non-financial risks. The goal of our ERM program is to ensure that leaders are well-informed about Nielsen’s risk landscape so they can make educated, strategic decisions that lead to sustainable growth. Through this program, regional business owners are required to report back on their assessment of business risks in 21 specific categories, and corporate business leaders are required to report on risks in seven categories.
Three of the risk categories are explicitly related to ESG issues: Climate Change; Health, Safety & Human Rights; and Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity. Climate Change was added in early 2018; climate change-related issues were previously addressed under Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity. The new climate category includes adverse financial, strategic or operational impact as a result of—among other risks—an inability to provide climate-focused solutions to address the unique needs of businesses in a climate-impacted world. Also, we recently completed our first global climate risk assessment, which looked at climate-related physical and transition risks for Nielsen in the short and long terms.
Health, safety and human rights risks are linked to adverse financial, legal and reputational impacts as a result of failure to provide safe working environments for our employees, or to protect employees from discrimination, harassment or external threats. Disaster recovery and business continuity risks are linked to adverse impacts resulting from the inability to properly respond, continue business operations or meet client demands in the event of unforeseen incidents, including natural or manmade disasters.
When a crisis event occurs that has either a close proximity to a Nielsen office or is a location where there could be impacts on Nielsen employees, we utilize a tool that allows us to see whether there are any employees in the area traveling or working. We collaborate across teams to confirm the safety of all associates and provide support if needed. Each market is responsible for their own business continuity operations and planning. When there is a potential crisis, the Global Security team will partner with the business to discuss their crisis and backup plans for the business. Depending on the region and the market, this can vary from alternate office locations, food, water and emergency equipment such as a generator.
To ensure we remain prepared, we recently added a team within our Technology & Operations function focused on business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Watch this video interview with Edwin Katabaro, Program Director, Business Resiliency, Nielsen, for more information about our continuing efforts in this area:
Our ERM process has evolved and matured in recent years with the assistance of an external ERM advisor, leading to changes in how, and how often, we share risk information. Starting in 2018, we will hold one formal risk reporting meeting with the ERM Leadership Committee (composed of top executives) and three less formal, more collaborative “risk-sharing” conference calls with risk owners and risk experts across functions and geographies.
Overall, this ERM process raises awareness across all functions regarding emerging and evolving risks, providing leaders with a more robust understanding of our current and potential risks in order to put plans in place to mitigate those risks. To help ensure an effective risk culture throughout the company and foster continuous improvement, the ERM process is supplemented with weekly newsletters, onboarding trainings, workshops and social media posts relating to risk management. Learn more about how our ERM process has evolved by watching this video interview with Mandy Straka, Director, Security, Nielsen:
Risk Management Outside the ERM Process
We also consider and address key risks outside of the formal ERM process. For example, we are building a training program for associates whose roles involve greater corruption risk exposure and those who can most effectively detect and prevent corruption. Also, our global Finance organization receives anti-corruption training each year. From a purchasing risk perspective, all purchases at Nielsen require approval to ensure they are appropriate. For the vast majority of purchases, this occurs through the workflow associated with our Purchase Order system. Before purchases can be made from new vendors, approval must be obtained as part of the vetting process to add a new vendor to our master list.
Beyond our focus on anti-corruption and purchasing, we have invested in an overall global financial controllership organization. Maintaining strong financial controls helps ensure that our financial statements are materially accurate, and this is a pivotal part of Nielsen’s culture. At Nielsen, we have over 100 employees dedicated to financial controllership around the world, including general accounting associates, billing/credit/collections associates, consolidation teams, operational controllers, revenue controllers, market controllers, corporate controllers and our Global Financial Controlling Center of Excellence leaders. This vast network provides Nielsen coverage over all the countries in which we operate, from both a statutory and a U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) point of view. This team is responsible for closing the books on a monthly basis, reconciling all general ledger accounts, ensuring that financial systems align, and reviewing and understanding balance sheet movements. Our controllers also support various audits each year, including local GAAP audits, internal audits and Sarbanes-Oxley Act audits. It is important that our controllers be connected to the businesses they support as well. This allows the team to be better business partners, assisting in various process improvement and simplification projects.
In addition, we have a Corporate Audit Staff (CAS), whose mission is to provide assurance and advice, and enable accelerated growth for our global business in order to address tomorrow’s risk today. This mission is executed through an operating framework referred to internally as “Triple A”: Assure, Advise, Accelerate.
CAS’s Assure pillar is focused on audit, which is the core of what they do. Through their audits, CAS independently reviews the accuracy of financial information, assesses financial processes and evaluates the effectiveness of financial controls for Nielsen’s global business units. The audits are split into two sections: Sarbanes-Oxley and risk-based reviews. Through this approach, CAS ensures coverage of Nielsen’s largest entities as well as high-risk entities that are selected based on several criteria, including but not limited to integrity concerns, turnover, growth and other risk indicators identified by management. In 2017, CAS audits and reviews substantially covered our global revenue and assets, and overall coverage increased year-over-year. The results of CAS’s reviews are reported quarterly to the Chief Financial Officer and the Board’s Audit Committee.
CAS’s Advise pillar is built around strong business partnership while maintaining independence. CAS stays engaged post-audit and consults control owners throughout remediation to ensure solutions are efficient and sustainable in the long term. CAS uses its audit expertise to partner on strategic initiatives and drive regionwide control improvements when risks or gaps are identified. For example, in 2017 CAS designed and rolled out a global payroll control framework and performed assessments of recent acquisitions to ensure smooth integrations. Another key objective within the Advise pillar is to help identify and mitigate emerging risk that may disrupt our operations and harm client relationships. As one example of this, a new Information Technology audit team was formed in 2017 to more effectively address our ERM risks of Emerging Technology, Data Privacy and Cyber Security.
Through the Accelerate pillar, CAS has been focused over the past year on promoting a digital culture by embedding analytics and automation into their processes, with a goal to increase efficiency by 20%. In 2017, CAS added a digital enablement lead to the team whose role is solely focused on achieving this goal. CAS’s longer-term objective is to build upon these efficiencies and completely digitize the audit process, which will enable increased annual audit coverage and will also allow more time for advising global business leaders on the rapidly changing risk landscape. The CAS team continues to act as a valuable partner in growing our global business with integrity.
In addition, our Buy Internal Audit team performs independent assessments of critical operational controls to determine compliance and execution effectiveness against established Nielsen standards and benchmarks. In 2016, this audit team performed end-to-end Retail Measurement Services (RMS) quality audits of Nielsen operations in Russia, Mexico and Romania and targeted audits of our data collection processes in Algeria, Bangladesh and Bosnia. In 2017, end-to-end audits of RMS operations in the Philippines, Nigeria, Colombia, Egypt, Ukraine, South Korea, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, Dominican Republic and Turkey were performed, along with targeted audits of our data collection processes in Pakistan, Morocco, Kuwait and Bahrain. In parallel, the team began auditing Consumer Insights & Innovation processes beginning with Malaysia, Egypt and South Korea.
In early 2017, this team began performing audits of human rights and integrity related risks and controls. To do this, the team added relevant indicators related to human rights, integrity, data security and safety, including items such as compensation records, employee time logs, facilities accessibility and disaster recovery plans. All findings are presented to the local teams and tracked until remediation plans are complete.
Also in 2017, we put particular focus on tightening controls and reducing risks relating to the integration of acquired companies. As noted previously, acquisitions are an important part of our business strategy; we’ve executed 15 in just the last three years. To make the integration process more efficient and secure, our Global Technology & Operations function organized a cross-functional team in 2017 to assess the integration of recent acquisitions and identify any risk gaps. By the end of the year, the team succeeded in closing more than two-thirds of the gaps, including those of highest priority (primarily around cyber security). To learn more about our strategic integration process, watch this video with Patrick Dineen, SVP, M&A Technology Integration, Nielsen, and Deborah Whalen, VP, Corporate Development Integration Program Lead, Nielsen:
Natalia Wagner, VP, Buy Internal Audit, Nielsen
In my role leading our Buy Internal Audit team, I’m focused every day on both understanding the risks that our business faces and developing the processes and protocols we need to mitigate those risks. Since joining Nielsen in 2010, I’ve had the opportunity to increase my knowledge of end-to-end operations through a variety of different roles serving the global Nielsen community. This isn’t static—whether in my own career or in addressing our diverse risk landscape, it’s an exciting and always-evolving process.
I have always wanted to help improve the lives of others. When I joined Nielsen’s Operations Emerging Leaders Program in 2010, I had no idea if this motivation could be fulfilled at Nielsen, or even what Operations at this company really looked like. Nielsen’s unique business model and our purpose to enable efficiency for the clients and markets we serve—in order to yield greater prosperity—was all new to me. My rotations as an Operations Emerging Leader Associate were served across both our Watch and Buy businesses, and I rolled off the program into a global client service role. While these experiences gave me snapshots into Nielsen, I wanted to understand how it all fit together.
A few years into my career at Nielsen, I joined our Corporate Audit Staff, where I spent three years executing financial and information technology audits to understand and assess risks, all in order to promote sound controllership globally. It was here that I was really able to broaden my scope and work with teams across many countries. I learned about control frameworks, how they were applied at Nielsen, and how to build comfort and confidence in our processes—not only for internal business owners but also for our external stakeholders. I became invested in educating teams on how to find fraud or non-compliance, as well as sharing best practices in order to enhance our collective impact.
The transition to my current role was a clear one. I was tasked with building an end-to-end audit framework for our Buy-side operations, ensuring that key areas of risks to client deliverables are identified through independent assessments of critical operational controls to determine compliance and execution effectiveness against established Nielsen standards.
Working under the Internal Audit umbrella, along with my team of highly experienced auditors, from 2016 to 2017 we tripled the number of audits performed and added in additional elements that are helping us expand our footprint. From the beginning of my career at Nielsen, I have always been invested in serving the communities we work in outside of our core business. When we were approached about measuring compliance around human rights, employee safety and vendor/cooperator management components, I drove the inclusion of those control checks for each of our future audits to support results reporting for the Compliance & Integrity and Global Responsibility & Sustainability teams. This has led to more proactive risk mitigation, increased transparency and has helped to reinforce trust with our clients.
Overall, Nielsen has allowed me to grow my career and develop myself in ways that I never expected. I have been so fortunate to have lived in seven cities (across four countries) and see Nielsen operations in 19 countries! I am consistently humbled and inspired by my colleagues all over the world who work so diligently every day, despite potential challenges or setbacks, to ensure our company is best in class. This is a constant reminder of how my personal mission is intrinsically connected with Nielsen’s.
Data Privacy, Security & Integrity
Data is what we do at Nielsen—collecting, analyzing and enabling our clients to make strategic decisions based on relevant and methodologically sound data. It’s no surprise, then, that data privacy, security and integrity are considered key enterprise risks for our company. These issues rose to the top in both of our non-financial materiality analyses, covering 2014-2015 and 2016-2017, respectively.
We are committed to protecting the security of all client and consumer information. Our Cyber Security Program is grounded in internationally recognized data protection principles. The Cyber Security team works to protect Nielsen’s data, systems and networks from internal and external cyber security threats by implementing leading-edge security technologies and industry best practices in security planning, implementation, management and operations. Watch this video interview with Marina Spyrou, SVP, Global Security Leader, Nielsen, for more information about how we manage these risks:
We focus our ongoing cyber security efforts in the following key areas:
Policy and Governance: Nielsen’s Cyber Security Policy defines the minimum set of controls necessary to uphold the company’s reputation and protect information. The policy is based on several authoritative sources, including industry standard frameworks and regulatory requirements. Controls within the policy are tiered to ensure that appropriate protection is provided for each classification of information (e.g., public, internal, confidential and confidential restricted). The policy is reviewed and updated at least annually and translated into 20 languages. If controls cannot be met, we have a defined exception process that allows for a review of business justification and impact while considering additional or alternative mitigating controls before approval is considered.
Awareness: Our Code of Conduct sets expectations for all employees to protect confidential information, defines examples of confidential information, stresses the prevention of unauthorized disclosure and links directly to our Cyber Security Policy. We also conduct regular cyber security trainings. In 2017, the Cyber Security team contracted with a leading vendor to provide security awareness and phishing campaign materials on their hosted platform. In 2016, we implemented a required online training course that 98% of our global associates completed. All new employees are required to complete a cyber security training within their first 30 days at Nielsen. Information is also shared with associates throughout the year—through newsletter articles, social media posts, panel discussions and more—on topics such as the secure use of Wi-Fi, preventing unauthorized access, and disposal of data and equipment, among many other topics. Also, simulated phishing attacks are sent to associates regularly, to improve employees’ resistance to responding to malicious emails. If a user responds by clicking, a training screen appears immediately and a more detailed training course is assigned for completion within 30 days.
Risk Management: Our Cyber Security team uses the ISACA risk management framework, with a focus on identifying cyber security risks in business streams, educating the business owners of the risks and consulting on mitigation options. Risk assessments are completed in a matrix approach that covers selected controls across a specific service, product or business process.
In coordination with Legal, the Cyber Security team regularly reviews and provides recommended language regarding information security for client and third-party contracts. The contracts may include specific security control requirements, specialized reporting and response procedures in the event of an incident, self-certification procedures and audit right definitions. When Nielsen acquires a new company, the team works to ensure that their technologies and processes are securely integrated and adhere to the Cyber Security Policy. The team has testers on staff who are responsible for vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, prioritization of findings and consultation on remediation.
Third parties who are receiving confidential or confidential restricted data from Nielsen undergo a cyber security risk assessment to ensure they are able to protect the information adequately.
Security Architecture and Engineering: When we’re developing or deploying critical systems, our Cyber Security team works closely with our Infrastructure and Application Development teams to build security in from the beginning of the software development lifecycle, as opposed to hardening a system after deployment. The team helps to define requirements, create secure designs and test the system for vulnerabilities in advance of release.
Incident Management: Nielsen has a robust process for responding to incidents, including cyber security incidents as well as corporate Code of Conduct violations globally. The process includes triage, investigation, evidence collection and storage, root cause analysis and incident resolution with executive reporting. Internal investigations cover a broad range of allegations, primarily related to Code of Conduct violations. These investigations are handled by the investigative team within our Legal department and coordinated with Human Resources as needed. They may result in the termination or resignation of individuals.
Cyber security incidents are responded to by the Cyber Security team. The team maintains an executive Cyber Security Incident Response Plan that details the response framework, executive decision making roles, prioritization and escalation of defined events, supporting procedures and response management. The plan also includes specific procedures that address the handling of privacy breaches. Our Legal Privacy group is responsible for the determination and notifications that are a result of a reportable privacy breach.
Global Security & Risk
Our Global Security & Risk team’s focus is on protecting our people, our intellectual property and Nielsen’s global reputation for integrity. We also provide leadership as it relates to crisis management. Watch this video with Bob Messemer, Chief Security Officer, Nielsen, to learn more about our approach:
For consumers to willingly share information with us, they have to trust us. We take seriously our commitment to keeping all personal and confidential data private.
Our approach to privacy centers on minimizing an individual’s identifiability within our processing operations to the greatest extent possible while still observing sound data science and market research methodologies to extract research insights from individual-level data. Much of the data we use is masked or pseudonymized in various ways within our systems to protect individuals from direct identification, and we have controls in place to prevent individuals from being reidentified from data provided to our clients. We follow an approach of “privacy by design” to ensure that our privacy principles—which align with globally accepted fair information practices—are embedded in the design of our products and services during the development stage.
Our Global Privacy and Data Use Policy addresses Nielsen’s collection, use, disclosure and retention of data about unique individuals. The policy is generally applied to all Nielsen services, processes and technologies—whether client-facing or internal—that utilize individual-level data, including during the development or assessment of new processes or technology, as well as by all Nielsen affiliates, subsidiaries, majority-owned joint ventures, associates and contractors.
The policy is organized around a set of high-level principles: privacy by design, trust and accountability, notice, choice, data quality, data minimization, limited use and retention, access and correction, children’s data, cross-border transfers of data, transfers of data to third parties and data security.
Our privacy compliance program consists of:
- Policies and procedures to implement legal requirements and give effect to individual rights under privacy laws;
- A dedicated team of experienced privacy professionals to provide oversight and expertise;
- Privacy and security training for all employees, along with ongoing communications on specific topics;
- An approach of including privacy by design into our products and services;
- Security and contractual controls to limit our employees’ and service providers’ access to personal data in our systems by role, and to limit onward transfer of personal data handled on our behalf;
- Response procedures to deal with data security incidents or other issues; and
- Continuous review and improvement of all aspects of our program.
Where we perform measurement of the general public or our services support interest-based advertising, we do so using anonymized or pseudonymized data. We maintain extensive privacy notices on the Privacy page of our website describing the various types of data collection and use in which Nielsen engages, and we provide the public with instructions for how to opt out of our measurement products. Our subsidiary, eXelate, part of Nielsen Marketing Cloud, maintains a cutting-edge preference manager on its website, which enables individuals to see—and customize—in real-time the information that eXelate cookies associate with their devices. Additionally, Nielsen Marketing Cloud is a member of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) and the European DAA, and adheres to the privacy codes of conduct of these organizations applicable to online advertising enablement, which the rest of Nielsen does not perform. We also prohibit our clients from identifying individuals with the data we provide them, or from using our data to make decisions relating to employment, housing, credit or insurance.
We investigate complaints regarding our privacy and data use practices and take remedial action where appropriate. Any Nielsen associate who receives a privacy-related complaint must escalate it to Nielsen Privacy. The general public can reach out through a dedicated page for privacy inquiries on our website.
Finally, we actively prepared for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May 2018. Our cross-functional GDPR team was led by our Chief Privacy Officer and included our GDPR Program Manager, EU Data Protection Officer and Legal Privacy team, as well as senior representatives from our Data Security, Engineering, Process Improvement and Technology teams. Over 20 workstreams were managed daily, and progress was tracked continuously. We also provided periodic progress reports to top management and the Nielsen Board of Directors.
Watch this video with Ben Hayes, Chief Privacy Officer, Nielsen; Meredith Grauer, Deputy General Counsel – Privacy, Nielsen; and David Stevens, Data Protection Officer – EU, Nielsen, for more information about our ongoing efforts across all aspects of our data privacy strategy:
To provide The Science Behind What’s Next™, Nielsen has to stay ahead of the curve—ahead of consumer trends, ahead of technological developments, ahead of our clients’ needs. That’s why innovation is critical to our success. In fact, future-focused leadership and innovation was identified as one of the most essential areas for our long-term success in our most recent non-financial materiality assessment.
We are constantly seeking out the new, the cutting-edge—the breakthrough idea, process or technology. These innovations need to be useful, feasible and valuable—practical for the clients and industries we serve now or in the near term. Sometimes we develop innovations ourselves, other times we incorporate the best thinking in the marketplace through dialogue with our clients, business partnerships or additive mergers and acquisitions.
Our strategic approach to innovation starts from within. Our internal development programs create patented new technology, and our externally facing programs build on this approach through strategic alliances, acquisitions, ventures and startups that allow us to grow our capabilities and support new and disruptive ideas and businesses both within and beyond Nielsen.
Launched in 2013, our Nielsen Innovate Fund is an early-stage technology incubator and investment fund in Israel focused on areas including market research, consumer behavior, data analytics, marketing and advertising solutions, campaign effectiveness measurement and new media. Through Nielsen Innovate, we provide the startups in the program with capital, a place to work, mentorship and a host of other services, in exchange for a modest investment stake. We also support growth over time, including creating mutually beneficial testing and learning opportunities for these early-stage entrepreneurs with Nielsen clients where applicable.
About a third of the companies that come through Nielsen Innovate end up selling services to Nielsen clients, creating value for both these new businesses and our clients. To date, more than 20 companies have been launched through this program. We’re proud that two of them have achieved scale leading to a sale: Crossense (sold to a Nielsen vendor) and vBrand (purchased by Nielsen).
One of the ways we bridge our internal and external innovation programs is through our Nielsen Fast Pitch contest. This annual contest is an opportunity for Nielsen associates to share and work on new ideas, further enhancing our culture of open innovation. As a result of our Fast Pitch contest in 2016, we co-founded Brainvu, a virtual reality research startup. Our Operations team also has an ongoing Innovations Challenge through which associates can contribute ideas to help reduce cycle times, minimize costs and improve the quality of the data that our clients use.
In addition, through our Nielsen Ventures team, we invest in companies that are disrupting the Buy and Watch landscape globally. This all also supports our Connected Partner Program, a data- and revenue-sharing platform that drives growth for Nielsen as well as other participating organizations.
“You must not be afraid to fail. Brainstorming ideas, programming them, testing them out—the vast majority will not go anywhere, be it failing in required performance, accuracy, speed or logical consistency. Nielsen has given not only the encouragement to try those ideas, but the freedom and flexibility in time and resources to test them, knowing that there will be false starts and dead ends on the way to a solution. Collaboration and teamwork are vital, both in helping to build the proposed solution but also the confidence to speak up and find counter-arguments during the process. These constructive criticisms are not a negative on the great work already being done, but recommendations on how to make the solution better for the company and clients.” – Mike Sheppard, Principal Scientist, Data Science, Global R&D, Nielsen
In line with our Path to 2020 plan, we are investing in automation and machine learning, which will drive significant efficiency and growth for Nielsen. Our plans for full automation in Watch and Buy data collection, for example, will bring benefits in quality, speed and flexibility, along with the ability to capture new data sets and provide real-time data.
One recent breakthrough on this path is the Nano meter, which was developed by Nielsen engineers and is currently being rolled out across our global footprint. Together with the streaming meter, this device enables us to more efficiently capture what’s being watched in a panelist’s household, whether on a TV, iPad, smartphone or other devices; the Nano meter includes Bluetooth technology, so it can communicate with any other Bluetooth device in the house. Essentially, the Nano meter measures who’s watching and what they are watching; the streaming meter tells us the exact source of streaming.
The Nano meter is much smaller and simpler to install than our current meters—less than half the weight and size—and as a result is far less intrusive in a panelist’s home. This lighter weight should also translate into reduced production time and energy for our manufacturing suppliers, providing benefits beyond those for our panelists. The Nano meter is powered directly by the television or by a standalone power supply and is used in both the United States and international markets. With the new measurement technology that the Nano meter provides, paired with the remote technology we acquired with Qterics, we will be able to solve for common maintenance issues remotely and collect all data more efficiently. We’re excited about the positive effect this will have on our environmental impact, particularly as it relates to a reduction in the number of trips our technicians must take to install and maintain our equipment. And for our clients, the result is the best possible picture of what every person in our panelist households is watching.
On the Buy side, eCollection is a new technology that holds a lot of promise for more quickly capturing information on how a product is displayed in a store. Traditionally, for example, an auditor would assess how much product is on an end-cap display in a grocery store by scanning the barcodes of each type of item, entering the price for each and then doing a quick manual count of how many there are of each. With eCollection, they will be able to simply snap a photo with a smartphone and be done. The photo will subsequently be analyzed with techniques such as deep learning and optical character recognition, and overlaid with our reference data to determine the type, number and cost of the items.
We’re committed to continuing to deliver for our clients and for the environment as we develop new technologies that will enable our Path to 2020 and beyond.
“My experience as an inventor at Nielsen has been incredibly positive. The Intellectual Property team has streamlined the whole application submission process, making it very easy to submit an idea for peer and legal review, and then conversion into an official U.S. patent submission. I’ve been very fortunate to work in an environment where innovation is part of our culture and so strongly supported and appreciated.” – Steve Splaine, Director, Engineering, Nielsen
To incentivize innovations within Nielsen, we proactively encourage associates to identify and submit potentially novel, commercially important innovations for patent filing consideration. In-person training, online materials and videos help to raise awareness of our intellectual property (IP) practices. Our Inventors@Nielsen Reward & Recognition Program, for example, is designed to promote, incent and support growth through innovation; protect Nielsen’s development investments; recognize creativity and hard work; and say “thank you” to associates. The program has standard inventor incentives across our business worldwide and contributes to building our intellectual currency.
In part because of these efforts, Nielsen now holds 10 times more U.S. patents than we did a decade ago, with similar growth in non-U.S. patents. As of May 2018, our patent portfolio includes 2,964 patent assets worldwide, including 1,027 U.S. and 1,008 foreign patents granted as well as 496 U.S. and 433 foreign patent applications pending. In 2017 alone, Nielsen had 152 U.S. patents granted, including 27 for Gracenote, which we acquired in early 2017. Also in recognition of our innovation, Nielsen has won three Emmy Awards and three Edison Awards.
Our patent holdings extend to all commercially important products and services, with significantly greater patent coverage in our Watch business, which is more technology-driven than Buy. In Watch, we have patents for our new Nano meter, return path data, watermarking and signaturing technologies, Digital Ad Ratings, meters, on-off detection, the people meter and demographic methodologies. We also have a significant portfolio covering the use of neuroscience methods to assess marketing effectiveness.
Dave Wright, Global Engineering Leader, Audience Measurement, Nielsen
Being part of a team that solves complex problems inspires me. Here at Nielsen and especially in Global Engineering, innovation is at our core. We proudly seek out opportunities to invent and be thought leaders. But that genesis doesn’t usually start in some elaborate way. It often starts with a group of diverse, cross-functional people having a conversation—perhaps gathered around a whiteboard or collaborating on a multi-country call, when that great beginning starts: “What if we tried this…?”
No matter where that spark starts, sometimes something extremely unique emerges—whether it be a new piece of technology or even a new way to apply a concept. And that’s where Nielsen takes it to a whole new level with our patent program. We are lucky to have a strong support system with our Intellectual Property staff at the ready to help guide us. I’ve worked at other technology companies, and while they had pockets of innovation, the investment in the patent process just wasn’t there. Nielsen guides us through the process, including the patent application and submission.
My advice to all potential inventors: don’t be intimidated. I would like to personally encourage everyone at Nielsen who solves problems and develops interesting systems to reach out to our IP team. Take that first step—and who knows, you might be on a stage one day accepting your first patent award.
The Power of Collaboration
Another way we are seeking to drive innovation—for Nielsen and for the retail and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries as a whole—is through our Connected Partner Program. Launched in 2016, the Connected Partner Program aims to leverage Nielsen’s data and client connections to collaborate with others servicing the retail and FMCG fields in an open data ecosystem. Partner companies can use Nielsen’s data in their own solutions for clients, or provide new datasets to Nielsen for us to utilize in our solutions with shared clients. Either way, the sharing of data and ideas has the potential to spark breakthrough advances for the whole industry. To date, the Connected Partner Program has successfully grown to include more than 45 active partner companies.
We recognize the collective opportunity we have to enable and create more sustainable options for consumers through this collaborative program. A number of our Connected Partners have recognized solutions related to sustainability, diversity and inclusion, as well as health and wellness. These include, but are not limited to, Connected Partners such as Prevedere, HowGood and Collage Group.
Sustainability Services & Engagement
Just as Nielsen has put more focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in recent years, so have our clients. More and more companies are seeking to make their operations—and their products—more sustainable and responsible. Our research, data and insights can help them do that.
In the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, for example, the rising trend in consumer preferences for healthier food and drink options—and for transparency about ingredients and their provenance—has had a profound effect. Transparency is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must. Through a strategic alliance, we recently launched a new ingredient and label measurement tool, Nielsen Product Insider, which is powered by Label Insight, a product data refinery platform. This tool combines data from Nielsen and Label Insight to help FMCG and retail clients better understand how ingredients and label claims are performing across the store. By helping clients understand the market potential for sustainable products and avoid producing less-sustainable options without consumer appeal, Nielsen data and insights contribute to a more efficient, lower-carbon economy.
In addition, we regularly conduct research for our clients about perceptions, issues and concerns relating to environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility. This information helps clients more efficiently develop products, services, partnerships and internal actions that consider ESG impacts. We also share key insights with the broader public, as in a recent video on sustainability and business and another on trends in bottled—or rather, boxed—water. Similarly, we share research and insights about multicultural communities through our Diverse Intelligence Series of reports and special events. In 2017, this series focused on women of color.
Since 1971 in India, we have had a dedicated Social Research Team that has conducted more than 3,000 studies for government bodies and non-governmental organizations in the areas of health and nutrition; education and communication; water sanitation; economic development; and family and youth development. Among the Social Research Team’s recent work are multiple surveys pertaining to childhood immunization in India for the United Nations (U.N.) Development Programme. Specifically, the team has conducted three rounds of National Immunization Coverage Evaluation surveys, which have helped to identify communities with the highest prevalence of partially or entirely not immunized children. Based on this data, the U.N. and the Indian government have been able to implement “catch-up campaigns” to increase the coverage of immunization, which is seen as the most effective way to reduce child mortality in the country.
Finally, through The Demand Institute, a non-profit think tank that Nielsen founded with The Conference Board, we help to illuminate how global consumer demand is evolving—including toward more sustainable options. The Institute, which helps government and business leaders align investments with where demand is headed, has produced a number of research reports in recent years, including on the future of American communities and on the global digital consumer. The Demand Institute also coordinates the Survey of Consumer Expectations, a monthly survey executed by Nielsen that focuses on Americans’ economic expectations and experiences, for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Demand Institute is also behind Project 8. Nielsen contributes data and other resources to support the work done by the Institute.
We share insights with the general public about consumer trends and new innovations in our industry through our Nielsen Database podcast, launched in 2017.
Our institutional spend with suppliers around the world comes with risks and impacts that are of concern to our company and our stakeholders—risks relating to climate change, energy use, human rights, conflict minerals and data privacy and security, among others. In our most recent non-financial materiality assessment, supplier accountability was one of our most important environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, as identified by Nielsen and external stakeholders.
As a global company, we have a unique and powerful platform to impact our world for the better. Like the immense purchasing power of individual consumers, our institutional spend of over $2 billion can be a demand signal in the marketplace. About 70% of our spend is on technology and telecommunications. This category includes suppliers that are large, multinational enterprises based in the U.S. and Europe and, to a lesser degree, small to medium-sized companies in emerging markets. Another 20% is spent on marketing research, with the balance on a mix of professional services, real estate and travel.
Through our Global Procurement team, we seek to manage this supply chain in an ethical, legal and socially responsible manner. We solicit supplier diversity and sustainability information during the request for proposal (RfP) process for new suppliers. We screen 100% of new vendors on ethical criteria for corruption, sanctions and politically exposed persons. Our standard contract terms obligate our suppliers to abide by the Nielsen Supplier Code of Conduct, which is available in 39 languages and conveys our expectations in areas such as human rights, health and safety, environmental management, ethics and management systems. Nielsen’s Supplier Code was adapted from the supplier code of conduct of the Responsible Business Alliance, formerly the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition. We provide online training on the Code for suppliers. And in 2017, we trained 100% of our Global Procurement team on our Code, along with three Global Procurement team members who were trained to internally audit against the Code.
Our supply chain sustainability program systematically addresses the ESG risks and opportunities in our supply chain. In 2017, we published a Program Report summarizing the program’s goals and progress after the first year of operation. Our website also includes detailed information on the program and our efforts to date. To learn more about the evolution of our supply chain sustainability program, watch this video interview with Jocelyn Azada, Manager, Supplier Diversity & Sustainability, Nielsen:
Our goal is for our supply chain sustainability program to cover up to 50% of spend with suppliers by the end of 2018. In 2017, the program covered 40% of our spend, up from 30% of spend in 2016, the first year of the program.
In 2016 and 2017, we requested sustainability assessments from suppliers who met at least one of the following criteria:
- Critical to our core business of measuring what consumers watch and what they buy;
- Part of the largest percentages of our spend; and/or
- Have high risk exposure in environmental, social or governance (ESG) performance.
These third-party assessments cover a variety of key ESG issues, including areas related to climate impacts and greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, waste management, human rights, anti-corruption, bribery and more. In 2017, 82 suppliers complied with our request, up from 54 in 2016. Both years, suppliers completing the assessments received an ESG scorecard, with a ranking from 1 to 100. The lowest-scoring supplier companies received corrective action plans aimed at helping increase their scores. We also developed a Supplier Toolkit in 2016, to assist in addressing issues flagged for improvement in the corrective action plans. In 2017, our lowest-scoring suppliers achieved an average 19% year-over-year increase in their scores, which exceeded our goal of an average 10% increase in these suppliers’ scores. Based on the supplier assessments, we completed a risk and opportunity map of our top strategic suppliers, including a detailed look at each company as well as each supplier industry segment.
While the sustainability assessments have been voluntary to date, for 2018 we are adding a contractual provision to our Supplier Code requiring sustainability assessments from suppliers meeting spend, criticality and/or risk exposure criteria. Our goal for 2018 is for 100 of our top suppliers to be assessed.
Meaningful supplier engagement is the primary means by which we collaborate with suppliers to meet our program’s sustainability goals. We do this through measurement and disclosure, continuous improvement and capacity building. Once a supplier enters our supply chain, our ESG performance assessment benchmarks them according to industry, size and country or countries of operation, along with ESG updates during regular business reviews. These assessments and regular business reviews serve as catalysts for meaningful supplier engagement on an ongoing basis.
By doing this, we ensure visibility into ESG risks and opportunities and drive higher standards within our own supply chain. Our sourcing managers engage with our suppliers with the goal of quantitatively improving sustainability performance at both the supplier and product/service level. Our Supplier Toolkit is used as a resource for our suppliers to improve their sustainability performance. The toolkit includes guidance for developing social, ethical and environmental policies, practices and reporting based on global standards and best practice. The toolkit also includes a comprehensive list of 150 performance indicators that suppliers can use to track ESG performance.
Overall, much of our supply chain work seeks to increase positive impacts (discussed in more detail on our website), such as supplier diversity, environmentally preferable purchasing, impact sourcing, local sourcing and multi-stakeholder collaboration. For example, we published an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Policy in early 2017 that outlines six environmental principles Nielsen takes into account when making procurement decisions. Guided by these principles, we measured baseline environmental, supplier diversity and social metrics of major spend categories and identified 50 key performance indicators for real estate facilities management, paper, printing, electronic devices and fleet. We also combine our purchasing power with other institutions and seek to work with others on these issues; we are a founding member of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) and a member of the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC).
In 2017, the second year of our program, we also took the step of aligning our supply chain sustainability program’s goals with the United Nations’ (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for people, planet and prosperity; we presented this alignment at public forums to over 3,500 people in Europe and the U.S., including at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. We understand that the business advantages for companies who embrace the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals include:
- Innovation that brings competitive advantage;
- Enhanced brand and reputation among customers, employees and the marketplace; and
- Relevance and impact in today’s complex, fast-changing world.
With our objective of integrating ESG performance criteria into the way we manage our supply chain, we find the SDGs useful programmatically as a common framework agreed upon by the world community. More information about how our strategy aligns with select SDGs is included in the Our World section of this report.
Supplier Feature: GRSA – Optimizing Technology for People, Planet and Profit
In 2016, we worked closely with GRSA, a global foodservice company, to update the cafeteria service in our São Paulo, Brazil, office. Through an RfP process, GRSA’s winning bid used technological innovation to reduce our environmental impact and operating costs, and align with current consumer trends for health and sustainability.
GRSA installed a new energy-efficient oven and trash compactor in the cafeteria to realize operational efficiency gains and cost reductions according to our bid criteria. As a result, the amount of raw ingredients needed for food preparation decreased by 7%, with a corresponding cost reduction. Other reductions included water consumption by 21%, energy consumption by 57% and waste reduction by 85%. Since the compactor shreds food, paper and other organic material and converts it to compost, Nielsen created an organic garden to supply the cafeteria with vegetables and provide food donations to communities near the office. The menu was also updated to include healthier, lighter and more flavorful menu options made with organic vegetables and fresh fruit from a local family producer.
“Our GRSA and Nielsen partnership began in December 2004, and over the years, we have adapted our service to meet the changing needs of Nielsen associates. Most recently, we’ve updated our cafeteria service for Nielsen to reflect environmental responsibility and consumer preferences for nutrition and health, while at the same time reducing cost. We appreciate working with a true partner like Nielsen to drive environmental, social and economic benefits for the whole value chain.” – Rosaura Spinelli, Unit Manager, GRSA
In 2016, Nielsen became a founding member of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC), a collaborative initiative of global buyers and providers of business services, as well as other stakeholders. Impact sourcing refers to the practice of intentionally directing sourcing to suppliers who provide training, employment and career opportunities to impact workers—people who were previously long-term unemployed, are first-time workers or are living under the national poverty line. Impact sourcing has the power to fundamentally alter the trajectory of workers’ lives and the lives of their families. It is a business-driven mechanism with a domino effect that contributes to the improved social and economic well-being of communities and nations.
Impact sourcing is a key initiative for aligning our supply chain with the SDGs. Through impact sourcing, we are addressing multiple SDGs, including SDG 1 (end poverty in all its forms everywhere) and SDG 8 (promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all).
In 2017, Nielsen engaged with two of our strategic suppliers with leading inclusive hiring programs to determine the baseline number of impact sourcing jobs in our supply chain. We determined that, as of December 2017, we had 342 such jobs in our supply chain in India. Our target is to increase this to 500 impact sourcing jobs by 2020.
To help us achieve this goal, we developed an Impact Sourcing Buyer’s Toolkit to raise awareness about impact sourcing among economic buyers and decision-makers for whom an impact sourcing supplier would be a good option. The toolkit includes a buyer’s presentation; user-friendly fact sheets and case studies; a directory of providers; and an opportunity identification worksheet to take stock of where opportunities may be available within our company.
Supplier Feature: Tata Consultancy Services – Innovation, Economic Inclusion and Social Impact
When we began approaching major suppliers on impact sourcing, we were pleased to find that Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has a comprehensive inclusive hiring program to train, develop and advance workers from some of the poorest and most disadvantaged groups in India, where much of Nielsen’s work with TCS occurs.
We worked with TCS, one of our most strategic suppliers, to understand the design and structure of their program, visited one of their training sites in Chennai and determined a baseline of 342 impact sourcing jobs included in the Nielsen account. Together, we set a goal of increasing the number of these jobs to 500 by 2020.
Because these jobs provide a strong entry point for employment for these workers, impact sourcing can profoundly impact a worker’s livelihood and the quality of life for their household—in many cases offering a sustainable pathway out of poverty.
“Our supply chain sustainability program is responsible for managing our suppliers in a socially, ethically, environmentally and financially sound manner, to strengthen our company and to serve our clients better. Managing our supply chain responsibly contributes to Nielsen’s understanding of current and future client needs and helps us meet client requirements and exceed their expectations. These efforts to use our institutional spend as a positive influence with the thousands of suppliers in our supply chain are consistent with our company’s commitment to leadership in sustainability and responsibility.” – Jim Corbett, Chief Procurement Officer, Nielsen
Nielsen expects that our suppliers will support and respect the free exercise of human rights, including through compliance with applicable human rights and labor laws and the provision of safe and healthy working environments. We have published a Commitment to Human Rights that outlines our approach to human rights in our own operations and in our supply chain. Our Supplier Code of Conduct explicitly forbids forced labor, child labor, human trafficking and discrimination, and requires suppliers to respect the right of freedom of association. Furthermore, our U.K. Modern Slavery Act statement describes our efforts to mitigate the risk of modern slavery and forced labor in our supply chain.
The greatest human rights risk in our supply chain is with our contract electronics manufacturers, particularly in Asia. We work with Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in this area to assess and engage them on their human rights practices. We aligned our Supplier Code with that of the Responsible Business Alliance (formerly the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition) to specifically address the risk of exposure to labor exploitation within the technology and electronics equipment manufacturing segments of our supply chain, as child labor and forced labor are significant risks within this sector.
Our Global Procurement organization works to ensure supplier compliance with our human rights policies through oversight that involves planning, control, monitoring, measurement, corrective action, auditing, review and reporting. Our Tier 1 and Tier 2 contract manufacturer suppliers undergo four levels of industry-specific and site-specific due diligence. The results of the assessments determine whether audits are needed by an external firm.
In addition, Nielsen senior staff visit production facilities quarterly to assess management systems and quality. During these visits, Nielsen visually checks the sites for building health and safety as well as child labor, and asks factory management questions related to any observations that give cause for concern. Approximately 70% of our Tier 1 and Tier 2 electronics suppliers received factory site visits in 2016 and 2017.
In the last two years, three members of our Global Procurement team have been trained by the Responsible Business Alliance to internally audit against our Supplier Code. Beginning in 2018, factory visits include internal audits against the Code.
Supplier Feature: SAP – Making Markets More Transparent
Nielsen is an SAP Innovation Partner with SAP Ariba on Supplier Risk, a product it released in 2017. This product provides supplier risk data on a platform used by the world’s largest global enterprises. The tool improves transparency and increases visibility into supplier environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and policies, efficiently identifies potential risks and improves key areas of supply chain.
As an Innovation Partner, Nielsen works directly with SAP product development leaders and reviews early releases of the product to ensure that it is continually evolving to better drive business decisions that make a positive impact on ESG issues. Nielsen enables SAP to offer supplier insights that help Nielsen and other companies manage their ESG risk, and continues to do so as SAP Ariba releases quarterly updates to the platform.
In addition to general product development, Nielsen has worked on enabling enhanced due diligence with Made In A Free World’s FRDM data for forced labor risk analysis. FRDM data is now available directly in SAP Ariba as a result of that work. This partnership demonstrates Nielsen’s enduring commitment to Arthur C. Nielsen’s view that “the price of light is less than the cost of darkness.”
“Collectively, the Global 2000 spend $12 trillion on goods and services annually. These companies have the buying power to ensure they provide fair labor practices across their supply chain, that they make opportunities available to minority- and women-owned businesses, and that no slave labor is being used to make their products. Nielsen is at the forefront of procurement with purpose, and we are pleased to be supplying them with solutions they can use to balance their costs with conscience and make a difference in the world.” – Barry Padgett, President, SAP Ariba
Within the electronics manufacturing segments of our supply chain, Nielsen is exposed to risks relating to the extraction and use of conflict minerals. These minerals—tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG), which are common in electronics manufacturing—may be used to finance militia operations or may use forced labor in their extraction, particularly in Africa.
To mitigate this risk, Nielsen is a member of the Responsible Minerals Initiative, the primary multi-stakeholder collaboration addressing ethical raw mineral sourcing. We also conduct due diligence and publicly report on the smelters in our supply chain in our Conflict Minerals Disclosure, per the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. Compliance with our conflict minerals due diligence is included in our contract language and our Supplier Code of Conduct.
The products requiring 3TG data collection and disclosure in our supply chain are the people meters and encoders designed by Nielsen Audio and manufactured by contract manufacturers. A Nielsen management team with representatives from Engineering, Global Procurement, Legal and Finance ensures compliance with our conflict mineral reporting requirements. We utilize a specialized, third-party provider to collect information from our direct suppliers with respect to the origin of the 3TG contained in the components and materials supplied to us. We also include sources of 3TG that are supplied to them from lower-tier suppliers.
Our third-party provider uses the conflict minerals reporting template developed by the Responsible Minerals Initiative to determine the usage of 3TG by suppliers. If template responses are insufficient or absent, Nielsen evaluates each case individually based on the likelihood of 3TG being present, the specific component and the availability of the component from other sources. Possible responses could include but are not limited to: suspension of purchasing the component from the given supplier; working with the supplier to obtain the 3TG data necessary for a determination of its sourcing; or designing out this particular component from our products going forward.
Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are incredibly important to Nielsen—so important that the topic is not only one of our key material issues but merits its own D&I report. We also maintain a D&I page on our website and regularly publish diversity-focused news stories. This section of our Global Responsibility Report summarizes three aspects of our D&I efforts: diversity and inclusion in our workforce, in our supply chain and in providing useful market insights for our clients.
Overall, we have a five-pronged D&I strategy that focuses on leadership accountability, career development, retention, supplier diversity and education. Our efforts are overseen by our Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Angela Talton, and underpinned by an Anti-Discrimination Policy that precludes discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender, age, disability and sexual orientation.
Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen
Nielsen’s business is predicated upon people—their preferences, choices and behaviors. Global population shifts are causing those behaviors to change at a rapid pace. Our investments in diverse talent and programming advance our ability to help clients anticipate and respond to those shifts.
We have long believed that diversity and inclusion are business imperatives, essential for our short and long term success. This belief has been borne out in recent research, which shows that diverse teams are more innovative, smarter and produce superior results. For Nielsen specifically, the success of our business depends on collecting and analyzing consumer data that accurately reflects the diverse world we live in, and one way to help ensure we do that is by having a diverse workforce ourselves.
We are actively working to create and maintain a workforce that is reflective of the communities where we live and serve, as we recognize that each of the 100+ countries where we operate may have different definitions of what a diverse workforce looks like. We enlist to learn locally from each country about what improvements they would like to see from a diversity and inclusion perspective, utilizing a diversity journey to outline initiatives that build Awareness, Discovery, Understanding, Implementation and Realization of their local D&I goals to design tailored practices and initiatives that further a culture of diversity and inclusivity.
In 2016, we began requiring diverse slates of candidates for open positions. The requirement first applied to job openings in the U.S. and in 2018 will expand to job openings worldwide. We define “diverse slates” in the U.S. as meaning that both an ethnically diverse candidate and a female candidate must be included among those considered for each position.
We seek to drive progress in diversity and inclusion through a number of internal groups and councils. These include but are not limited to:
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs are employee-led, volunteer organizations that promote open dialogue, engagement and leadership development. Our nine ERGs focus on recruitment and networking; professional development; education and engagement; and community outreach.
- Nielsen Diversity Council (NDC). The NDC is a cross-functional team of business, Human Resources (HR) and diversity and inclusion leaders who champion our diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives.
- Nielsen Global Inclusion Council (NGIC). The NGIC, which is composed of senior leaders and representatives from our ERGs, engages with global inclusion ambassadors, leaders and HR to identify where the country/region is on its diversity journey (Discovery, Awareness, Understanding, Implementation and Realization) and facilitate a plan to further diversity and inclusion locally.
- Global Ambassador Program. Established in 2016, the Global Ambassador Program is a subset of the NGIC. Made up of 20 global associates, the Ambassadors partner with local Nielsen business leaders, HR and ERG leaders to understand current practices and establish goals within each market.
Since 2012, we have partnered with business unit leaders to review their diversity scorecards quarterly. We are using this data to identify trends, share best practices and seek out opportunities for improvement. When a concerning increase in turnover within diverse groups was brought to light, we decided to cast a wider net and invest in professional development for various diverse segments of our employee population. In 2016, we hosted our first Black Employee Forum in Atlanta, Ga., and the first Hispanic Employee Forum was held in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., in 2017. Both events were designed to provide visibility, access to senior leaders and information about strategic priorities, and the opportunity for networking and building relationships in a culturally authentic atmosphere. We plan to hold our first Asian Employee Forum in 2018, as well as future events to enrich other diverse groups within Nielsen in 2018 and beyond.
We also offer a variety of diversity and inclusion trainings for associates and managers, some of which are integrated into our onboarding programs and Manager Excellence curriculum. In 2017, more than 1,600 managers took our new Unconscious Bias training around the globe.
The Diverse Leadership Network (DLN) is Nielsen’s leadership and career development platform for mid-career, high-potential talent. It is our most diverse program, by design, with at least 50% gender diversity and a target of 25% racial/ethnic diversity of each African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander and White participants. This 15-month leadership development program—which resembles a “mini-MBA”—is designed to identify, develop, accelerate and retain high-performing, high-potential associates using a curriculum of customized executive education, challenging case studies and 1:1 coaching from senior leaders who help participants develop in their leadership styles. Since its launch in 2013, the program has reached 134 associates from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. In late 2017, we launched a DLN alumni program to support the continued development and engagement of the program’s alumni network.
Finally, in 2016 we launched our first formal sponsorship program, matching our CEO and 14 members of our senior leadership team with a high-potential diverse group of associates. The one-year program provides advocacy for the associates as they pursue roles of greater responsibility in the organization. Sponsors provide exposure and create a differentiated experience by including their participant in unique professional development and shadowing experiences. As of Q4 2017, we have 100-percent retention of sponsored associates and 60-percent of participants in new roles since the start of the program. The program began in the U.S. in 2016 and is launching its second cohort covering North America (U.S., Mexico and Canada) in 2018. As we launch our second sponsorship program class, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to expand and scale sponsorship at Nielsen based on best practices from this program.
Myriam Vidalon, Business Intelligence Leader, Input Operations, Nielsen
I was part of the Diverse Leadership Network in 2014, after I had been with Nielsen for 11 years, all of which had been in Operations. Being part of the program was refreshing to my career, as I had the unique opportunity to share and learn from many colleagues around the company, coming from different backgrounds, experiences and parts of our “Nielsen family.” My appreciation and understanding of other teams skyrocketed. My coach and mentor provided me with ample opportunities to learn from the Commercial organization, and the many senior leaders supporting this program enabled me to understand the strategy, complexities and opportunities of our business.
Throughout the years, my many friendships made through DLN have enabled me to truly understand and vet my career path and professional growth objectives. To date, I still receive an occasional call from a new “cousin” (as we refer to the members of the Diverse Leadership Network) or I reach out to a fellow “cousin” to learn about an area of the business, solve problems or just catch up. I am very grateful to have been part of such an amazing leadership development network.
“I interned with the Legal department for three semesters during law school and gained valuable experience supporting the Nielsen Cares and Entertainment teams. I have been lucky to have amazing mentors and managers who have supported me through different positions at Nielsen after graduation. My internal business partners and development opportunities, like the Diverse Leadership Network, inspire and enable me to grow and tackle new challenges.” – Jessica, Senior Counsel, Legal & Corporate Affairs, New York City #ExperienceNielsen
Hear From Our Employee Resource Group (ERG) Leaders
Petra Tileschova, Global Auditor & U.K. Lead, MOSAIC, Nielsen
Being an ERG leader is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve come across at Nielsen. It has given me the opportunity to learn and fully understand the importance of ERGs internally and externally as well as the impact we make on our associates in terms of promoting diversity and inclusion. MOSAIC (Multicultural Organization Supporting …
Enrique Guemez, Director, Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience & Co-lead, HOLA Central, Nielsen
One of the most gratifying parts of working at Nielsen is being part of an ERG; I have the honor of working as co-lead of the Hispanic Organization of Leaders in Action (HOLA) ERG for the Central region in the U.S. This experience has allowed me to expand my network with departments that I usually …
Joan Koh, Talent Engagement & Development Leader, Asia & Lead, WIN Asia, Nielsen
My experience as an ERG leader at Nielsen has been truly meaningful and enriching. The opportunity to network across markets and countries, driving the common agenda of encouraging our associates to ”’be themselves” at work, has a meaningful purpose. The interactions with the many ERG leaders across the world truly enriches my knowledge, value and …
Megan Belden, Director, Client Service & Co-lead, ADEPT, Central U.S., Nielsen
I was first exposed to our Abled and Disabled Employees Partnering Together (ADEPT) ERG during my first year at Nielsen as a recent graduate. I was immediately inspired by Nielsen’s ERG structure and how ERGs leverage the diverse talent in the organization to drive stronger business impact. I have a neuromuscular genetic disability called Spinal …
“I was one of the Hispanic employees chosen to attend the very first Nielsen Hispanic Employee Forum in 2017. The forum was a leadership development opportunity where Hispanic associates can engage with senior leaders, learn more about Nielsen’s business strategy, develop relationships and grow their professional network. Upon learning that I was invited to attend, I was excited and grateful that Nielsen wanted to invest in my professional development as well as in those of my Hispanic colleagues.” – Marbil, Panel Relations Specialist Lead, Oldsmar, Florida #ExperienceNielsen
Creating Opportunities for Citizens of Color in South Africa
In South Africa, a region where significant economic disparities still exist among racial groups, we’re seeking to improve diversity and inclusion in our workforce as well as in our supply chain. Specifically, we are complying with the requirements of the South African government’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) program, which seeks to redress the inequalities of apartheid by providing previously disadvantaged citizens with access to economic opportunities previously not available to them. The program has five elements: business ownership; management control; skills development; enterprise and supplier development; and socioeconomic development. We have initiatives in progress in all of these areas.
In the area of ownership, for example, we are in the process of selling shares of both AC Nielsen and AGB Nielsen to an empowerment trust made up of previously disadvantaged Nielsen associates. In skills development, we have created training programs for employees that develop their management skills and other capabilities, so that we can promote from within as positions become available. We’ve also provided skills training to unemployed residents in local communities, to help them become more employable.
In enterprise and supplier development, we partnered with a business coaching firm to help young entrepreneurs in the area to grow their businesses, so they might become suppliers to Nielsen. We have also provided office space and other support to qualifying businesses that are already a part of our supply chain, such as the company that provides cafeteria services to our associates in Johannesburg.
With all of these activities, our aim is to help create further economic opportunity and a more secure future for communities of color in South Africa.
Our Supply Chain
By purchasing from diverse-owned businesses, we give diverse suppliers opportunities, and we can also help indirectly support diverse families and communities. We define diverse suppliers as U.S.-headquartered companies that are 51% owned, operated and controlled by minorities, women, veterans, the disabled and/or LGBT persons.
Our goal is to annually purchase at least 10% of our U.S. sourceable spend with diverse suppliers. We achieved that goal in 2016 but fell to 9% in 2017 when our overall spend decreased approximately 2% by $14 million. In 2017, we spent $80.4 million with diverse suppliers, a 61% increase from 2013. We estimate that Nielsen’s supplier diversity program has helped to create at least 200 jobs in diverse supplier companies over the past two years.
In 2016, Nielsen’s Supplier Diversity and Global Procurement teams conducted a survey of procurement managers at each of our largest Nielsen offices in the U.S.—New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tampa, Cincinnati and Wilton, Conn.—to understand the current state of local purchasing. Building on the results of that survey, in 2017, we launched a program called “Buy Local, Grow Global,” to find ways to increase our spend with local diverse businesses in major U.S. markets.
To do this, we conducted “lunch and learns” in seven targeted markets where Nielsen has a major presence (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Cincinnati, Oldsmar, Fl., and Columbia, Md.). The sessions helped to identify existing or future business opportunities in which local diverse suppliers’ services could be used. Attendees were provided with a database to make it easier for associates to source for local diverse businesses. Also as part of our Buy Local effort, JLL—our real estate vendor—confirmed they will use supplier diversity as a criteria for consideration in 100% of our facilities management contracts going forward.
We will continue with the Buy Local program in 2018 but start focusing on the “Grow Global” portion by expanding our supplier diversity program into South Africa, the U.K. and Latin America. We will also track and report spend resulting from this initiative to provide quarterly recognition for corporate buyers who are directing the greatest amount of their spend to local and diverse businesses.
We are a member of a variety of associations that promote supplier diversity, including the National Minority Supplier Development Council, National Veteran Business Development Council, Women’s Business Entrepreneurial Network, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and many others. We engage with and support these types of groups in a variety of ways. In 2017, for example, we helped launch the HeroPreneur annual conference in Arizona, which was held in tandem with the inaugural HeroZona event, a week-long celebration of veterans. As part of the conference, we co-hosted a two-day business expo designed to create business opportunities for business owners who are military veterans. In 2018, we will launch our first thought leadership report highlighting U.S. veteran consumers at the 2018 HeroPreneur event.
Market Insights for Clients
In our work with clients, we are mindful that our data and insights need to reflect the full diversity of the communities and countries where we operate. To ensure that consumers of color are participating in Nielsen’s studies and surveys, for example, we deploy a 360-degree campaign to recruit participants that includes advertising, event activations, sponsorships, earned media relations and thought leadership. Through each of these methods, we let multicultural and diverse consumers know that their voices matter to us and to our clients. Watch this video interview with Don Lowery, SVP, Community Engagements, Nielsen for more about this approach:
Our Multicultural Growth & Strategy organization works directly with our clients to help them identify and activate their multicultural consumer opportunities. This includes providing best-in-class approaches and consulting to appeal to the growing multicultural consumer base.
In addition, we share research and insights about multicultural communities through our Diverse Intelligence Series of comprehensive thought leadership reports and special events. These efforts seek to quantify, document and publicize U.S. demographic shifts and the associated growing economic and cultural influence of multicultural and diverse consumers. In 2017, our Diverse Intelligence Series focused on women of color (African-American, Asian-American and Latina), shedding light on the “Power of She” in communities of color.
In another example, and as part of our Data for Good effort, we conducted research in 2017 on the prevalence of “food deserts” in low-income communities. Specifically, we designed a healthy food access index for each ZIP code in California and Michigan that included detail on demographics, income level, number of supermarkets and expenditures on produce, to determine where food deserts exist. The project was conducted in cooperation with the California FreshWorks fund and the Michigan Good Food Fund.