our report

Report Content

What’s unique about this Nielsen Global Responsibility Report? While you may find similar information in our other public disclosures, such as our Proxy statement, 10-K and Year in Review, this report serves as the comprehensive hub for all information about how our environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and forward-looking strategy connect to our business.

In order to determine the content we would include in this report, our Global Responsibility & Sustainability team considered the nature of our most material overall areas, risks and opportunities, as well as how our ESG and business strategies have evolved in the two years since we published our first report. We also reviewed the key issues that were raised in our first non-financial materiality assessment, covering 2014–2015, to evaluate how progress has been made in the intervening years and to identify where risks, challenges and opportunities still exist. Some of these issues remain on our second, and most recent, non-financial materiality assessment, covering 2016–2017, though they may have been redefined to reflect current circumstances and context. Other issues may have dropped in position because their relative importance to stakeholders and society may have changed or because of other developments.

To determine the boundaries for each material issue, we looked at whether the impacts were primarily within Nielsen and related to the company exclusively, or went beyond Nielsen into other parts of our value chain. Those issues noted as having impacts within the company are in some way directly linked to our business or operations. Those issues noted as going beyond the company may involve upstream impacts to our supply chain or downstream impacts with our clients or even their customers.

We worked closely with internal subject matter experts across all areas of our business, and we relied on stakeholder feedback through our non-financial materiality assessment, to ensure we covered all areas of greatest importance to our various stakeholder groups. We also collaborated with external experts to validate our approach according to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Reporting Principles. Through this external validation, we sought to ensure that this report was complete, inclusive of all stakeholder groups and their interests, and fully reflects the comprehensive set of ESG considerations that are most material to Nielsen, within the context of our global business and operations.

For any questions related to report content or our overall strategy, please reach out to globalresponsibilitysustainability@nielsen.com.

Content by Stakeholder Group

Here we provide links to specific content within the report that may be of greatest interest to each of our five core stakeholder groups; we anticipate these groups will be our most frequent users of this report.

  • Clients may be particularly interested in the content included in Our Company.
  • Employees may be particularly interested in the content included in Our People.
  • Investors may be particularly interested in the content included in Our Company and Our Report.
  • Suppliers may be particularly interested in the content included in Our Company and Our World.
  • Non-governmental and community organizations may be particularly interested in the content included in Our World.

Content by Reporting Framework

In compiling this report, we considered and incorporated indicators from 13 external ESG rating and reporting entities, which were selected based on stakeholder feedback. These entities include (in alphabetical order): Bloomberg ESG, CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), EcoVadis, The Financial Times Stock Exchange FTSE4Good, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), JUST Capital, MSCI, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), Sustainalytics, Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Trucost and Vigeo.

The three rating and reporting entities of highest interest to our stakeholders have historically been GRI, SASB and CDP. Below we provide a full GRI Content Index at the Core level, including links to report content for each material issue.

SASB has identified Professional Integrity, Data Security, and Workforce Diversity & Engagement as its three most critical areas for Professional Services companies like Nielsen. Information about Professional Integrity can be found throughout Our Company, including in our GovernanceCompliance & Integrity and Risk Management sections; information about Data Security can be found in our Data Privacy, Security, & Integrity section; and, finally, information about Workforce Diversity & Engagement can be found in the Diversity & Inclusion section and throughout Our People.

The vast majority of relevant information covering CDP and TCFD recommendations, which overlap considerably, can be found within the Our World section of this report. Information about relevant governance and risk management measures can be found within Our Company. A full list of all GRI indicators covered in this report can be found within our GRI Content Index.

Julia Wilson, Director, Global Responsibility & Sustainability, Nielsen

Since we published our first Nielsen Global Responsibility Report in May 2016, we’ve seen a significant growth in the number of external environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting frameworks, standards-setters and raters. Given the recognized importance of ESG factors on business success and long-term viability, many of these external ESG entities are increasingly recognized by key stakeholder groups—including our clients and investors—as important sources for information about ESG performance.

At Nielsen, we’ve taken advantage of this variety in ESG entities to craft our own internally driven ESG framework, linking our ESG strategy and external reporting efforts as part of a cohesive cycle focused on continuous improvement. We recognize the importance of external reporting, both to provide transparency for all our stakeholders and as an opportunity to incorporate meaningful feedback into our strategic planning. This is one way we strive to drive progress in the areas that are most relevant to our business and important to our stakeholders.


Our Strategic Approach

Focus and consolidation are at the core of our reporting effort. By pulling in inputs and indicators—well over 1,000 in our case—from the various raters, rankers, standards-setters and frameworks, we’ve created our own consolidated, internal “ESG database” of the metrics that matter most to Nielsen, cutting out the excess while recognizing the important topics that rise to the top. These indicators are what we share with our internal subject matter experts as part of our effort to prepare Nielsen’s external reports, including this one.

Even more importantly, this ESG database also serves as a key part of our guidebook in developing our strategy and measuring our progress over time. We recognize that for any company, conducting a materiality assessment, regularly engaging stakeholders, and connecting business strategy with top ESG focus areas are all key to developing a coherent strategy.

We know that our diverse stakeholder groups have specific areas of interest. To make it easier to access the information they may be looking for in this report, we’ve provided shortcuts to information that may be of greater interest to particular stakeholder groups. We’ve also provided information about the various reporting frameworks that are covered within the report, including those that Nielsen proactively shares information with, as well as those that our clients and investors ask us to respond to. Given the large number of different ESG raters, rankers, standards-setters and frameworks that exist to provide companies with opportunities to voluntarily disclose their risks, opportunities and impacts, we reserve the right to continually update and advance our approach in determining which of these we respond to, where we proactively engage and how we ensure the right overall balance of time spent and value delivered for all our stakeholders.

GRI Content Index

A full-page GRI Content Index can be found here.


Relevant Financial Information

For all information related to Nielsen’s SEC disclosures and otherwise, please visit our Investor Relations page on Nielsen.com. Included here is a selection of financial disclosures based on the most frequently-asked questions from environmental, social and governance (ESG) raters and standards-setters.


Additional Governance Information

A robust description of our governance processes and structure is included in the Governance subsection within the Our Company section of this report. Additional information related specifically to our Board of Directors is included here for reference; this is also reflected in our Proxy statement, starting on page 1.

  • Our publicly available director independence statement is available in our Proxy statement. Background information about each of our Board members, including biographical details and areas of expertise, can be found here.
    • Note that we do not have a former Nielsen CEO or equivalent on our Board.
    • Our Chairperson and CEO roles are separate.
    • We have a one-tier Board structure. In 2016, we had 11 directors; in 2017, we had 9 directors.
  • We value diversity of age, gender, sex, race, nationality, experience and viewpoints—among other aspects—on our Board. We do not have a standalone diversity policy, but we consider this as part of a holistic approach to selecting new Board members. Our Nomination & Corporate Governance Committee is responsible for ensuring the diversity of our Board.
  • There are no anti-takeover provisions in place (e.g., poison pill).
  • All members of our Audit Committee are independent Board members; additionally, they all qualify as financial experts.
  • We have majority voting standards in place. Based on feedback from a majority of our shareholders, we hold “say on pay” votes annually at our Annual General Meetings of Shareholders.
  • We maintain stock ownership requirements for our CEO and other executives; this is 6x salary for our CEO and 3x or 1x salary for other Nielsen Executive Officers.
  • While we do not have a minimum attendance standard, we expect that all directors make every effort to attend each meeting. We do not have any directors who have attended less than 75% of Board meetings.
    • In 2016, our Board’s average attendance rate was 90% at both the full Board and committee level.
    • In 2017, our Board’s average attendance rate was 100% for the full Board and 90% at the committee level.
  • At a minimum, the full Board meets five times per year and each of our three standing committees meet quarterly. In 2017, our Board met six times, our Audit Committee met eight times and our Compensation and Nomination & Corporate Governance Committees each met six times.
  • All members of each Board committee are independent directors.

Additional Public Policy & Government Relations Information

Comprehensive information about our approach in this area can be found in the Public Policy & Government Relations subsection within the Our Company section of this report and on the Public Policy page on our website.

As stated in this report, 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. NielsenPAC only contributes to federal candidates in the United States. Refer to the Federal Election Commission’s website for additional information.

As needed, we consult with external organizations as it relates to our strategy in this area; these organizations include but are not limited to Mehlman Castagnetti and Wexler and Walker. In order to provide full transparency for our stakeholders, we have provided a yearly breakdown of our total lobbying spend from 2014 to 2017 here. Total spend on lobbying from 2014 to 2017 was $2,354,600. The yearly breakdown by quarters is as follows:

  • 2014 first quarter: $164,600.00; 2014 second quarter: $170,000.00; 2014 third quarter: $140,000.00; 2014 fourth quarter: $170,000.00.
  • 2015 first quarter: $160,000.00; 2015 second quarter: $130,000.00; 2015 third quarter: $140,000.00; 2015 fourth quarter: $120,000.00.
  • 2016 first quarter: $110,000.00; 2016 second quarter: $140,000.00; 2016 third quarter amendment: $120,000.00; 2016 fourth quarter amendment: $120,000.00.
  • 2017 first quarter: $110,000.00; 2017 second quarter: $130,000.00; 2017 third quarter: $100,000.00; 2017 fourth quarter $110,000.00.

Industry Trade Associations

The following is a representative—but not exhaustive—list of Nielsen’s relationships with industry trade associations during 2016 and 2017, as well as some ongoing relationships. Organizations are listed in alphabetical order.

  • Advertising Research Foundation (ARF)
  • AmCham EU
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • The Aspen Institute
  • Audience Measurement Coalition
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW)
  • Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM)
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Center for Information Policy Leadership
  • Consumer Goods Forum (CGF)
  • Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)
  • Digital Content Next (DCN)
  • Digital Dialogue Forum
  • Food Marketing Institute (FMI)
  • Future of Privacy Forum
  • Global Market Development Center (GMDC)
  • Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC)
  • Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)
  • Information Technology Industry Council
  • Insights Association
  • Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
  • Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe
  • Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK
  • International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP)
  • International Association of Privacy Professionals
  • International Radio and Television Society Foundation (IRTS)
  • Marketing and Accountability Standards Board (MASB)
  • National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
  • National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS)
  • National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS)
  • National Grocers Association (NGA)
  • National Journal
  • Network of Executive Women (NEW)
  • PromaxBDA
  • Public Affairs Council
  • Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Coalition (SPLC)
  • Video Advertising Bureau (VAB)
  • US ASEAN Business Council
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • World Economic Forum

Environmental Data Verification Statements

2017 data: Our BVNA verification statement for GHG emissions data for Scope 1, Scope 2 (market-based and location-based), and Scope 3 is available here; our verification statement for water and waste is available here.

2016 data: Our BVNA verification statement for GHG emissions data for Scope 1 and Scope 2 (market-based and location-based) is available here; our verification statement for Scope 3 is available here; and our verification statement for water and waste is available here.

Our First Nielsen Global Responsibility Report

Our first Nielsen Global Responsibility Report was published in May 2016, covering full-year 2015. A PDF is available here.

PDF Version of Report

A PDF version of this Nielsen Global Responsibility Report, as of June 2018, is available here.