our world

Our Approach

Through responsible, sustainable business practices and our commitment to giving back, we care for the communities and markets where we live and operate our business. Our Global Responsibility & Sustainability strategy at Nielsen includes all environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues that affect our business, operations, and internal and external stakeholders. To activate this strategy, our Global Responsibility & Sustainability team oversees all aspects of our global ESG approach and external reporting; employee engagement through volunteerism and pro bono donations of Nielsen data via our Nielsen Cares and Data for Good programs; as well as employee engagement and increased operational efficiencies from environmental sustainability efforts through Nielsen Green.

Our purpose and mission—and the value they create—are directly connected to our Global Responsibility & Sustainability journey. Each day we work tirelessly to help our clients and the markets we serve operate more efficiently. In order to deliver on this purpose, our mission—what we do—is to provide measurement services that will enable improvement in the marketplace and, ultimately, greater efficiency. This dedication to delivering incremental value through our core business is critical to the way we operate each day around the globe.

Our Global Responsibility & Sustainability strategy helps us manage and articulate our value to the world. It’s the foundation for how we think about our responsibility to make a positive impact on the communities and broader environment where we live and work, both through our core business and beyond. Our commitment is simple—to talk, walk and act responsibly by giving back to our communities and mitigating our impact on the environment. It’s a concept that is at the very foundation of our company’s 90-plus year history and that has been thoughtfully carried through to our purpose and mission today.

Nielsen Global Impact Day, our annual day of global volunteer service, launched in 2012 and broadened our strategic approach to global corporate social responsibility. Since then, we’ve expanded to include a more comprehensive understanding of what community impact means as part of our global business strategy. To better coordinate these connected efforts, we first formalized our broader Global Responsibility & Sustainability team and strategy in 2016. Today, this strategy consists of three pillars: Responsible Practices & Reporting; Nielsen Cares; and Nielsen Green. The Nielsen Foundation, a separate private foundation funded by Nielsen, also began grantmaking in 2016.


Through our Responsible Practices & Reporting pillar, we connect ESG considerations to critical business issues in order to drive continuous improvement and positive change. Reporting on our progress externally provides transparency and meaningful engagement opportunities with all stakeholders.

Our Nielsen Cares and Data for Good efforts provide new opportunities to help solve critical social challenges, engage employees, attract and retain talent, and show our capabilities in new ways across our clients and communities. Through Nielsen Cares, our employees make a difference by volunteering their time and expertise for communities and non-profit organizations. Nielsen also makes pro bono donations of Nielsen data and expertise, as well as direct corporate cash contributions.

We also strive to drive operational efficiencies that help us manage and reduce Nielsen’s impact on the environment. Through Nielsen Green, we are working to be more efficient with resources and decrease our impact on the environment. We’ve set corporate goals for energy use and waste and have begun tracking progress on greenhouse gas emissions and water use.

Some of the areas we address across our Global Responsibility & Sustainability strategy—specifically, community and social impacts, as well as energy use, business travel and waste—were among the ESG topics identified as top priorities in our latest non-financial materiality assessment. Additional information about the governance structure and processes we’ve built around this strategy and the management of our top ESG areas, among other priorities, is included in the Governance section of this report.

In order to measure the effectiveness of our ESG strategy across all areas of our business, we strive to set ambitious goals that will push us forward, both to create new opportunities and reduce any negative impacts associated with running our global operations. We take a collaborative approach to our reporting across all ESG areas when it comes to setting goals, identifying the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor and accelerate our progress and measuring our improvement over time.

Setting our goals and KPIs is a team effort with leaders around the world. A full list of all goals set in our key ESG areas can be found in the Goals section of this report.

More information about our ongoing Global Responsibility & Sustainability efforts can be found through the “Responsibility & Sustainability” tab on our Nielsen News Center and our website.

Playing Our Part: Nielsen and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

As a global company with a presence in over 100 countries, we recognize our responsibility to do our part in making progress against the collective goals set forth through the United Nations (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the SDGs have a 15-year time horizon ending in 2030, we know that it takes a combination of individual and group action each and every day to move our communities forward. It is through this collective, collaborative action that we are able to make progress more broadly across countries, regions and indeed the entire world.

While we consider each of the 17 SDGs to be important, we recognize the unique role that individual sectors and companies can play. As such, we have aligned the most relevant SDGs for our business with our ongoing strategy to use our core competencies—our data, our science and our people—to make a positive impact in this collective vision for our future world.

No one company, country or individual actor can ensure a positive future for all alone. We are proud to do our small part in furthering the SDGs, particularly as it relates to the seven we’ve identified where Nielsen can have a unique impact: SDG 1: No Poverty; SDG 2: Zero Hunger; SDG 4: Quality Education; SDG 5: Gender Equality; SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth; SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities; and SDG 12: Responsible Production and Consumption.


“[We worked with Nielsen volunteers] to analyze [year-over-year hunger-related data] and provide more concise, usable data. The volunteers’ ability to quickly grasp what we do, our process and our needs was really impressive, and every single one of the presentations provided great suggestions to improve our work.” – Mollie Koplin, Manager of Corporate Partnerships, Feeding America

Nielsen Cares

Nielsen Cares mobilizes our data, expertise and associates to positively impact the communities in which we live and work around the world. Because we believe in the power of our collective impact, involvement and investment, we pledge at least $10 million each year in pro bono data and in-kind products and services—part of a larger goal to contribute a cumulative $50 million in-kind from 2016 to the end of 2020. In 2017 alone, we donated $11.2 million across more than 60 initiatives.

Nielsen Cares focuses on four priority areas that represent the critical societal needs we feel we are best equipped to address, given their strategic importance and our core competencies of our data, our science and our people:

  • Hunger and nutrition: We help non-profits better understand food issues in order to increase global access to food, reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition. The global data we collect about food pricing and consumption can provide non-profits with the insights they need to drive more efficient and impactful programs.
  • Education: We strive to enable the next generation of leaders to excel in reading, computer literacy and math. This directly benefits our business, as we rely on a workforce educated in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.
  • Diversity and inclusion: We help to economically empower diverse communities by increasing awareness of diverse consumer demographics and by driving career readiness for all. This area of focus reflects the importance of diversity and inclusion to our business, both in our workforce and in our efforts to accurately sample diverse communities.
  • Technology: Everything we do is rooted in leveraging technology to make an impact. We want to expand technology access and understanding, enabling non-profits to achieve their hunger, education and diversity-related missions by tapping into Nielsen’s technical expertise, as well as growing their own skills to be more effective and efficient. Just as Nielsen’s business depends more and more on technology, social issues can be addressed in new ways through new solutions.

In these four areas, we encourage and track skills-based volunteering, which includes volunteering by our associates that utilizes their core business skills, experience or education. This kind of volunteering helps non-profits build and sustain operations, while also giving Nielsen employees valuable experience and exposing our brand and capabilities to communities, clients and other stakeholders.

We provide 24 hours of dedicated volunteer time to each Nielsen associate annually, with a goal of logging 300,000 total volunteer hours (including dedicated volunteer time and personal volunteer time) from 2016 to 2020. To date, we’ve logged over 170,000 total hours across 2016 and 2017 toward that goal. While this volunteering can take place anytime throughout the year, we also organize a worldwide day of service each year called Nielsen Global Impact Day (NGID). In 2017, our sixth-annual NGID mobilized more than 23,000 Nielsen associates across 89 countries to volunteer through more than 1,500 projects in local communities.

To carry out our Nielsen Cares programs around the world, we maintain and support a global council of approximately 20 Nielsen Cares leaders, representing all geographic markets and multiple functional areas across the company. In coordination with this leadership council, we also have local Nielsen Cares leaders on-site at nearly 150 locations around the world. These leaders work to identify local engagement opportunities with organizations and develop projects for associates to connect with their communities and with each other. Outstanding volunteers are recognized throughout the year through our Nielsen Cares Shining Stars program.

Aligned with our associates’ volunteer efforts, we also share pro bono and in-kind resources—such as our data—in support of social causes. We call these Data for Good projects, and they are aimed at sharing Nielsen’s consumer insights and data with the world, including non-profits and academic researchers, to make a difference. We focus these projects specifically in the Nielsen Cares priority areas of hunger and nutrition, education, diversity and inclusion, and technology. For example, through the Nielsen Datasets at the Kilts Center for Marketing, we donate Nielsen data for access by academic researchers to extend knowledge, support innovation and enhance the practice of marketing.

Finally, Nielsen also makes direct corporate donations to relevant non-profit organizations. We updated our internal Third-Party Donations Policy in 2017. It further clarifies our requirement that all donations must comply with the Nielsen Code of Conduct (including the Anti-Corruption Compliance Policy) and cannot be given to certain types of organizations (such as political organizations, or any group that discriminates on any basis), among other requirements. 

Learn more about our commitment to Nielsen Cares from Andrea Bertels, Director, Global Responsibility & Sustainability, Nielsen & Director, Grantmaking, Nielsen Foundation:

hear from our non-profit collaborators

Giving Back: 2017 Examples

The following are just a few examples of how Nielsen and our associates worked to give back to our communities around the globe in 2017:

  • Nielsen has donated a variety of data and skills to the World Food Programme (WFP) over the years. In 2017, we sponsored two employee volunteer calls-to-action with WFP: a 24-hour “hackathon” to help WFP build a chatbot to better and more quickly assess food insecurity, and a data science “datathon” in conjunction with Nielsen Global Impact Day to develop a model to see how existing data can be used to predict food insecurity.
  • We donate data every year to Feeding America for their Map the Meal Gap study, which provides an analysis of what hunger looks like across each county in the United States. We also connect with individual food banks within the Feeding America network to collaborate on various skills-based volunteering projects. In 2017, Nielsen volunteers helped the Houston Food Bank develop a survey to better understand and deliver on their network’s needs. In Chicago, Nielsen associates also took part in a case competition to help Feeding America analyze data, reports and templates to provide insights about the historical success of their programs and better direct their programs and funding.
  • We support Alliance for YOUth, a business-driven initiative focused on helping young people make the transition to employment opportunities. The initiative has a strong presence in Europe, and in 2017 it launched in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan region as well as Latin America. Through Alliance for YOUth, volunteers from Nielsen and other collaborating companies help young people to prepare for work by offering practical advice, resumé clinics and interview preparation.
  • To support research on retail, advertising and consumer purchasing behavior, Nielsen donates disaggregated data valued at millions of dollars each year to the Kilts Center for Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Through the Nielsen Datasets at the Kilts Center for Marketing, eligible academic researchers can apply to access a data warehouse of Consumer Panel, Retail Scanner and Ad Intel Data to advance their research on topics relevant to marketing, economics, finance, policy and health, among others. The Ad Intel dataset was added to the warehouse in 2017.
  • Project 8, a cloud-based, open-data collaboration platform through which a wide variety of stakeholders come together to share, analyze and discuss data on sustainable development and human needs, was created by the United Nations Foundation and The Demand Institute (jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen). The Project 8 platform is powered by support from Salesforce, a leader in cloud computing, with the implementation services and industry experience of Accenture. The platform has reached 400 users representing public- and private-sector organizations from more than 20 countries.

We recently caught up with three Nielsen alumni to learn how their Nielsen experience influenced their personal development as leaders in the social impact space:


Learn more about Nielsen Cares directly from associates such as Juliane, Jessica and other volunteer leaders around the globe.

Hear From Our Nielsen Cares Leaders

Nielsen Green

Compared to many different types of businesses, Nielsen does not have as large an environmental footprint. We are a professional services firm, after all—we don’t operate manufacturing plants, mines or any physical production center beyond our data centers. But given the pressing issues of climate change and dwindling natural resources globally, we believe all companies have a role to play in minimizing environmental impacts and maximizing environmental efficiencies and benefits. At Nielsen, we see sound environmental management as central to our business and a key to securing our future. Our primary environmental programs are operated under the umbrella of Nielsen Green.

We have identified direct environmental impacts in several areas: water, waste, energy, business travel, indoor environmental quality, and materials and resources. In our non-financial materiality assessment, three of those issues—waste, business travel and energy—rose to the top as most important, according to both our stakeholders and the realities of our business, so that’s where we’ve been focusing our efforts.

While greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not called out specifically in this list of priority issues, we understand the pressing need to halt and reverse global warming and acknowledge the role our resource consumption plays. Thus, many of our efforts aim to drive progress in this regard. Most significantly, our work to reduce energy use in our facilities and decrease business travel help to reduce climate-changing emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Our efforts to divert and reduce landfill waste, and increase recycling and composting, are also climate-friendly, as the latter options represent a more efficient use of materials and reduce the methane emissions associated with landfill disposal. In early 2018, we completed our first global climate risk assessment to identify Nielsen’s climate-related risks; the results of the assessment are discussed below. A more detailed discussion of our understanding of Nielsen’s obligation to operate responsibly in the face of climate change was published in spring 2018 on our News Center.

In 2016, we set three corporate environmental goals to drive our strategy:

  • Reduce global energy use per square foot of facility space by up to 5% by 2020, compared to a 2015 baseline;
  • Upgrade our live data storage in our data centers to energy-efficient “all-flash” by 2019; and
  • Ensure that virtually none of our global e-waste is sent to landfills by 2020.

Progress toward these goals is discussed in the sections that follow.

While our Global Responsibility & Sustainability (GR&S) team established these goals and oversees their implementation, day-to-day execution is owned and managed at the operational level. Our environmental policy and guidelines for operations help to guide these local efforts. We use an environmental management system software for all environmental data collection, management and reporting. (See the Governance section for more on the governance and management of our environmental activities.)

We are active with a variety of external organizations on issues relating to environmental sustainability—both to learn and to share our own experience and expertise. For example, we contributed data to the U.N. Global Pulse’s Data for Climate Action challenge. As noted previously, we play a leading role in Project 8, an online data collaboration platform that allows researchers to share and analyze data related to sustainable development. We also champion the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data, a global network of governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses working together to use data to address sustainable development issues.

Additionally, an associate on our GR&S team serves on the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Global Sustainability Standards Board, a cross-sectoral group with sole responsibility for setting the GRI’s globally accepted standards for sustainability reporting. And finally, we regularly conduct research for clients about environmental perceptions, issues and concerns, to help them more efficiently develop products, services, partnerships and internal actions that consider environmental impact. Our website contains our latest insight reportsspanning a wide range of topics including sustainability.

Yamini Dixit, Director, Global Responsibility & Sustainability, Nielsen

At Nielsen, we understand the urgency around climate change and the need for responsible citizenship. As a global company, we hold ourselves accountable as advocates to identify and bring awareness to sustainable options, and are committed to driving forward a holistic approach towards this critical global effort. The sustainability market drivers are dynamic, and our stakeholders expect Nielsen to continue evolving our strategies through an adaptive ESG approach.

As we build on our tools and infrastructure to meet this rising demand, our Nielsen Green program seeks to design channels that align our initiatives and opportunities consistently across all areas and regions of operations.   

We are integrating our sustainability codes into our global strategy by not just identifying environmental efficiencies in our business that impact the bottom line, but also by driving responsible citizenship and ‘doing right’ by the communities and world we live and work in.

Nielsen Green reaffirms our commitment to sustainability through cross-functional collaborations globally and regionally; grassroots engagement with our Green Team champions who embody a rich spirit of community service; and open, consistent and relevant messaging with all stakeholders, ensuring that the ripple effects of our commitment are felt across our value chain.

Energy Use

Among our most important environmental impacts is energy use in our office buildings and data centers. Energy use was identified as one of our key material issues, and two of our goals are helping to drive efficiencies in this area: reduce global energy use per square foot of facility space by up to 5% by 2020, compared to a 2015 baseline; and upgrade our live data storage in our data centers to energy-efficient “all-flash” storage by 2019.

Our complete energy use data is provided in the Environmental Sustainability Data section of this report, as well as the GRI Content Index.

We are reducing energy use by converting to all-flash data storage. Compared to traditional, bulky spinning disk storage, all-flash storage uses less power, has greater capacity in less floor space and requires less cooling. In 2015, we began a migration to all-flash storage, and we are on track to achieve our goal by 2019. Learn more about how we invest in technology to minimize our environmental impacts through this video interview with Kim Anstett, Chief Information Officer, Nielsen: 


We are also in the process of consolidating our data centers into five locations, which will help us to be more energy efficient. In 2017 alone, we eliminated 350 servers, saving more than 300,000 lbs. of carbon emissions. Since 2015, our server optimization and virtualization, storage refresh and data center consolidation initiative together have reduced energy consumption by 70% in our data centers. In 2016, this effort resulted in almost 7.7 kilowatt hours (kWh) in power savings, amounting to 7.2 million kilograms (kg) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions avoided.

In addition, we saved energy in 2016 by retiring 51 software applications. These retirements are completed when there is no longer a need for a particular service or application, or when it can be converged or combined with other services. Retiring applications leads to reductions in energy use and physical space. In 2017, we “refreshed” 9,500 laptops by upgrading them and improving their power efficiency instead of sending them to landfill, thereby avoiding more than 90,000 lbs. of carbon emissions.

To assist in our energy-reduction efforts, an associate in our Technology organization developed a Green Calculator, which enables users to determine the energy savings generated by different potential actions. The Green Calculator helps to arm our teams with the understanding they need of the environmental impacts of various initiatives.

In 2017, we looked into increasing our reliance on renewable sources, such as solar panels, for energy generation. However, given that the majority of Nielsen offices are leased, we determined that the investment did not fit our business strategy. At present, a few of our European offices do procure energy from renewable sources, but these account for less than 5% of total Nielsen energy use. We plan to further assess renewable energy procurement in 2018 and beyond.

Finally, we have also driven overall sustainable efficiencies (including, but not limited to, energy use) through building certifications. Our Chicago office is LEED Silver certified, our Tel Aviv office is LEED Gold pre-certified, our Malaysia office is GreenRE Bronze certified and recently our Los Angeles office earned a Green Business certification. We are committed to using 100% LED lighting in all our new office buildings and locations. We are also investigating opportunities to move to LED lighting in our current locations; however, we recognize this remains a challenge given our use of primarily leased spaces around the world.

“JLL incorporates a commitment to sustainability into the real estate services we provide to clients like Nielsen. This partnership works particularly well when our client shares the same desire to be a leader in this area. In Nielsen, we have found such a client and partner.” – Robert Best, Executive Vice President – Energy & Sustainability Service, JLL

Alex Patent, VP, Architecture, Nielsen

For Nielsen, data center efficiency means running world-class infrastructure utilizing the latest technology that reduces our costs and failure points, improves operations and optimizes our system performance while at the same time reducing our physical footprint.

Standardizing our technology in order to focus on options that reduce our carbon footprint is key to our work. Working with teams to design new systems and solutions that consolidate legacy hardware—and that leverage software instead of new hardware—allows us to help drive the long-term sustainability strategy for not only our data centers but for any public cloud or hyperscale data centers Nielsen uses today or in the future.

Going forward, I would like to see our team and Nielsen in general continue to explore new ways to use carbon footprint-reducing technologies and philosophies. We should consider providing incentives for associates to think green in the workplace and in their own workspaces, both in the office and at home, similar to how we provide incentives to associates to be healthier. Helping associates think green in their everyday lives will become great habits that they can then bring into the office with them as well.

Kevin Young, Principal Architect, Global Infrastructure Architecture, Nielsen

Infrastructure architecture has a significant impact on Nielsen’s long-term sustainability, as our implementation of newer technologies allows for greater storage, processor and memory capacities within smaller physical server hardware form factors. This compact hardware design greatly reduces the total carbon footprint in the data center as well as provides a reduction in overall power consumption used by the physical server hardware that we purchase.

Nielsen’s application development teams directly benefit by having the ability to build and further expand their computing resources within their application environments as usage increases over time. This benefit extends to Nielsen’s customer base as well by allowing on-demand computing resources to be added to existing applications rather than waiting for new physical server purchases.

Our ongoing strategy prioritizes newer backup systems that use hard drives rather than traditional magnetic tape media, which consume a lot of space in the data center. The new backup architecture allows us to replace multiple data center racks of legacy tape libraries and consolidate Nielsen’s backup infrastructure into a single rack space or less. This, in turn, significantly reduces our overall hardware footprint, requires less data center floor space and lowers power and cooling requirements.

This type of backup architecture in Nielsen’s on-premise data recovery operations helps to protect from accidental file deletions, application corruption, and even disaster scenarios by allowing data to be recovered immediately versus waiting hours or even days for a tape delivery truck.

Water Use in Our Data Centers

Another major enhancement in our data centers relates to water use. While water is not a key material issue for Nielsen—our water usage footprint is relatively small given the nature of our business—it is certainly a critical environmental issue in many regions around the globe, and it impacts our employees worldwide.

At Nielsen, we’re doing our part by utilizing closed-loop water cooling systems, developed by CyrusOne, in our data centers. Traditional cooling methods require millions of gallons of water per year; CyrusOne’s system, by contrast, is filled once with less than 8,000 gallons of water, and that’s it. The system has no evaporative cooling, no blowdown, no new water usage and no release into the sewer system. It’s a major step forward in the conservation of water use in cooling systems.

Business Travel

Business travel is a key material issue for Nielsen due largely to the climate impacts of transportation-related carbon emissions. Over the past several years we have been actively seeking ways to reduce our carbon emissions relating to travel.

In 2017, we updated our Travel Policy, which will allow us to better understand our travel-related carbon footprint so that we can more effectively reduce it. Under this policy, we are now more accurately calculating our entire corporate spend relating to travel and entertainment—for example, by including associates in more countries and expanding our online tool to capture more expenses.

We’ve also improved the online tool so that sustainable options are made more prominent. For example, more users will now see the videoconferencing option and preferred travel vendors who have been vetted against sustainability criteria. We are also actively promoting the use of Uber and UberPool for business travel, which should decrease spend with traditional, high-emission ground transportation providers, such as SUVs and limos.

Also in 2017, we conducted our first global commuter survey to learn about our associates’ commuting habits. We are now working with the results of the survey to help identify regionally and locally appropriate opportunities to make commuting to Nielsen more sustainable.


“The challenge of confronting, understanding and adapting to different cultures and work environments has always fascinated me, and Nielsen has provided me avenues to live this passion. My curiosity has taken me to live and work in six different countries and visit 20 more. Working in our company has allowed me to meet and work with inspiring colleagues and leaders around the globe.” – Jean-Baptiste Delabre, Business Manager, Retail Consulting and Analytics, Montreal #ExperienceNielsen


We support a variety of initiatives to reduce the generation of waste—particularly electronic waste (e-waste) and paper. And we are continually investigating new, environmentally efficient waste disposal options at each Nielsen facility, in line with our sustainability commitment and local laws and regulations.

Because waste was identified as a key material issue for Nielsen, we’ve set a goal to send 0% of our global e-waste to landfills by 2020. Nielsen’s laptop donation program allows us to direct our used laptops to non-profits in need of them. In 2017, we donated over 60 laptops across North America. We look to expand this program globally in the future. In addition, Nielsen is ensuring responsible disposal of our electronics by working with vendors that are certified as sustainable. 

Learn more about our laptop donation program in the context of our overall Green Team strategy by watching this video with Santosh Mathew, Director, Information Technology, Nielsen:


One of the sustainable e-waste vendors we have worked with is CloudBlue, which uses safe and environmentally friendly disposal methods. In 2016, CloudBlue saved Nielsen more than $440,000 through reuse and recycling (by avoiding landfill disposal costs). This amounted to avoiding almost 673,432 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) and 64,382 kg of solid waste. In 2017, about $170,447 was saved. This amounted to avoiding 95,632 kg of CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions and about 59,041 kg of solid waste. About 1,672,543 kWh of energy usage was also avoided.

In 2017, we launched an e-waste business process improvement project, through which we re-evaluated our current e-waste vendors against sustainable criteria. We are now in the process of onboarding new vendors who will ensure the responsible management of Nielsen’s e-waste globally. Our scope for e-waste management in 2017 and 2018 is laptops, desktops, cellular devices and computer peripherals.

We’ve also taken a number of actions to reduce paper usage and waste. We have set all Nielsen printers globally to default duplex (two-sided) printing, and have established a Travel & Expense (T&E) policy to move all expense receipts online, eliminating the need to print and mail them. North America and Canada have already moved to 100% electronic expense reporting, and we are looking to expand this initiative globally (while adhering to local and regional regulations on expense management). At the end of 2017, we offered to provide our associates with W-2 tax forms electronically as well, instead of mailing them. As of March 2018, more than 3,300 associates had signed up for the electronic option, and we expect that number to grow in 2018. As it relates to unavoidable paper use, we preferentially seek out environmentally responsible paper vendors. One of our largest paper suppliers for North America, Xerox, has ISO 14001 certification for all manufacturing sites; they have evaluated health issues relating to toners and use power-down features in their equipment to save energy.

We have reduced paper purchases in our North America and Latin America regions by 36% between 2016 and 2017. Our 2017 paper purchase for North America was approximately 6.6 million sheets, a 45% reduction from 2016; for Latin America it was approximately 6.5 million sheets, a 22% reduction. We are working to build out the baseline for our other regions, with approximately 30 million and 33 million sheets purchased in our Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC) regions, respectively.

Individual Nielsen offices, with their locally organized Green Teams, also often seek out specific solutions to their waste issues. Our Oldsmar office in Florida, for example, holds a “haz-to-go” recycling event each year, focusing on e-waste. In 2016, they recycled more than 5,300 lbs. of e-waste through this event. In 2017, a total of 1,392 lbs. were recycled (579 electronic lbs. and 713 chemical lbs.). Another example of reducing the impact of our waste on the environment comes from our New York City headquarters; in 2017, all personal trash bins were replaced with recycling bins to encourage employees to recycle more. As a result, our waste diversion rate in New York City increased from 17% in the first quarter of 2016 to 56% in the first quarter of 2017. Our Ukraine Green Team led a “no plastic challenge,” during which only cloth bags from home could be used for any personal or office work. The team estimated avoiding over 1,000 plastic bags over four weeks. Other recycling initiatives are also common across most Nielsen offices.

“[We worked with Nielsen volunteers] to develop a robust national monitoring system that enables National CARES to track real-time data on their national mentoring recruitment efforts, including number of mentors recruited, trained and placed. We integrated lessons learned [from the project] into our strategic planning and hired a full-time staff member to oversee and implement some of the recommendations.” – Jayne Chu, Director of Development, National CARES Mentoring Movement

Climate Risk Assessment

Nielsen recognizes both the imperative reality of climate change and the opportunities for increased efficiency and effectiveness that it presents. We are working with teams and leaders across our organization to ensure that climate change risks and opportunities are integrated into our business strategy and that we are taking meaningful action to drive continuous improvements. As mentioned previously, a number of our Nielsen Green initiatives aim to reduce our carbon footprint with a focus on the material indicators we’ve identified.

For several years we have sought to accurately measure and be transparent with external stakeholders about our climate risks. Understanding our own footprint, and the impact our resource usage has on climate overall, was the first step to determining what these risks are. This report includes our latest greenhouse gas emissions data, for example. We also report a complete set of climate-related data to the CDP (formerly the Climate Disclosure Project) as well as in other stakeholder-requested surveys such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, EcoVadis and more. In 2017, we addressed environmental, social and governance issues, including climate, in our Proxy and 10-K filings.

With data in place, in early 2018 we completed a global climate risk assessment to identify the physical and transitional business risks for Nielsen in the short and long terms; understand how these will impact and drive our business strategy and leadership involvement going forward; and more effectively plan, prepare and invest in a way that secures business continuity and growth.

By investigating physical risks, we aimed to uncover how business assets integral to our operations, such as our facilities, may be affected by extreme weather events (e.g., “super storms,” hurricanes, etc.) and changing climate patterns (e.g., increasing drought, heat waves, sea-level rise, etc.). By looking at transitional risks, we identified the potential financial implications associated with regulatory pressures related to climate change (e.g., carbon taxes, emission caps, investing in new technology, etc.) as well as potential reputational risks.  

The findings from the climate risk assessment have implications for all aspects of our business. For that reason, we have engaged teams across areas including Global Responsibility & Sustainability, Real Estate/Facilities, Security, Business Resiliency, Risk & Insurance, Technology, Global Procurement, Architecture and Infrastructure. We plan to continue to build on these results and integrate the findings of this assessment into our ongoing strategy across internal operations, so as to implement resiliency measures that will secure our business and associates’ safety in the face of potential exposure to risk.

One example of action we are taking as a result of this assessment is our ongoing investigation into carbon risk-adjusted pricing for potential investments, in order to project a more accurate return on investment given both present and potential future climate-related risks.

“I joined the Nielsen team in May 2017 from the Gracenote acquisition. I’m part of a larger Nielsen Facilities team caring for Nielsen North America while remaining responsible for Gracenote globally. For Gracenote, I continue to direct facility activities with three other outstanding Facilities managers. Together we engage in expansions, space refreshes and lease administration projects. I’m also tasked with acting as the liaison between Gracenote and Nielsen, improving business relationships within both facilities and Real Estate, as well as daily operational activities across our North American facilities.” – Gary Kauffman, Sr. Director of Facilities, NA, and Gracenote Global, Nielsen

Green Meetings

Nielsen Green has established Green Meeting Guidelines for Nielsen associates to use as they plan local meetings and events. Associates are encouraged to share the steps they have taken to make their meetings more sustainable, through assessment forms to track the impact of these efforts. The green metrics they report on range from videoconferencing choices to food waste management to reducing paper usage. The forms are monitored centrally by the Global Responsibility & Sustainability team, and associates are rewarded through our Whole You program for the efforts they are putting in place. Our voluntary Whole You platform is available for associates in the U.S.; it is an opportunity to collect rewards based on voluntary health, wellness and sustainability-related activities that associates can choose to undertake.

In addition, Nielsen Green and our Industry Partnerships & Events teams are working together to establish key performance indicators that will allow us to track and identify other sustainable efficiencies in how we are organizing and managing our larger-scale global events. For these bigger events, the questions expand to indicators such as selecting venues that promise green facilities and infrastructure, as well as implementing innovative and sustainable communications and registration mechanisms.

Green Teams

Nielsen is privileged to have thousands of associates around the world who are passionate about working together to reduce our collective environmental footprint. These employees have organized into Green Teams—voluntary groups that lead grassroots projects at our various global locations throughout the year. Through simple but impactful initiatives, Green Teams are changing our behavior and interaction with the environment every day. There has been an over 300% increase in the number of offices that are represented by Green Teams since we launched Green Teams globally in mid-2013.

Our Green Teams lead and participate in activities during Earth Week—our global call-to-action in April of each year. During these five days, our associates from all over the world come together for unique and impactful environmental initiatives. In 2017, more than 17,000 Nielsen associates took part in sustainability activities during Earth Week. Green Teams celebrate another such week again in November, with our Green Awareness Week.

In recent years, Green Teams have implemented a number of unique initiatives. Our laptop donation program, for example, is run by leaders across multiple Green Teams. At our Oldsmar facility in Florida, the Green Team oversaw the installation of an electric car charging station. Elsewhere, Green Teams have installed low-flow faucets and shower heads, dry urinals and dual-flush toilets in our offices; instituted the practice of shutting off lights for an hour every afternoon during peak electricity usage; changed out light switches to those that have timers and motion-detecting sensors; instituted duplex printing; switched from disposable cups to reusable mugs; and established recycling and composting systems. In addition, our Los Angeles office’s Green Building certification was spearheaded by the Green Team. Nielsen honors Green Team contributions through our internal Simply Excellent recognition program.


Hear From Our Green Team Leaders

Environmental Sustainability Data

As part of Nielsen’s data collection strategy, we have established an expansion plan for our tracking and reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, resource usage and waste generation. We began with North America coverage in 2015, included Latin America in 2016 and Europe in 2017, and will pursue Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific data by the end of 2018 and in early 2019. As a result of this plan, we expect a more robust representation of our overall footprint by mid-2019.

The data coverage percentage across all metrics will vary year-to-year due to the nature of Nielsen’s global real estate portfolio, because of factors such as office moves or closures, merging locations and new building additions that come with acquisitions. This impacts the global targeted portfolio we use for our data collection.

In 2016, we expanded our emissions calculation to include global business travel, thus reporting on Scope 3 in addition to Scopes 1 and 2. We are currently determining the applicability of the other Scope 3 categories to Nielsen and looking into establishing tracking methodologies as needed.

We work with a third-party verification team—Bureau Veritas North America, Inc. (BVNA)—for assurance of our GHG emissions, water use and waste. All of our verification statements are available in the Appendix. In this report, we have not restated any previously reported data.

Scope 1 GHG emissions

Scope 1 GHG emissions are direct emissions that come from sources owned or controlled by the reporting entity. For Nielsen, this primarily includes generator fuel and natural gas.

In 2017, our Scope 1 GHG emissions total was 709.52 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), representing 26% of our total global targeted square footage in 2017.

Scope 2 GHG emissions

Scope 2 GHG emissions are all indirect emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam. For Nielsen, this primarily includes purchased electricity.

Nielsen first reported on market-based Scope 2 GHG emissions in 2016, in addition to location-based Scope 2 GHG emissions. Market-based reporting encompasses any green energy investments the company has made (e.g., renewable energy credits).

As shown in the chart below, in 2017, our location-based Scope 2 GHG emissions totaled 29,099.90 metric tons CO2e and our market-based Scope 2 GHG emissions totaled 29,965.77 metric tons CO2e, representing 53% of our total global targeted square footage in 2017.

GHG Emission Intensity

The chart below shows our GHG emissions intensity, normalized by full time employees (FTEs). Note that we also seek to understand our global real estate portfolio by calculating our emissions per square foot. As we continue to expand our measurement coverage, we use targeted square footage as a normalizing factor to compare to our overall global real estate portfolio. Using this normalizing factor, between 2016 and 2017, our Scope 1 and Scope 2 location-based GHG emissions decreased by 11% per square foot.


Scope 3 GHG emissions

In 2016, we started tracking our Scope 3 GHG emissions, mainly focusing on global business travel (i.e., Category 6 per the GHG Protocol Scope 3 Standard).

The air travel data for emissions calculations represents bookings made through our American Express Business Travel tool; it does not include any direct or separate agency bookings. We continue to investigate the applicability of the other Scope 3 categories for our professional services business.

We saw a 5% decrease in our GHG emissions from business air travel between 2016 and 2017.

Electricity Consumption

In 2017, our total electricity consumption was 63,611,467.87 kilowatt hours (kWh), representing 53% of our total global square footage in 2017.

We saw an 8% decrease in energy consumption per square foot of our global targeted portfolio between 2016 and 2017.


Waste Management

Our reported waste metric consists primarily of landfill waste, excluding composting and recycling. In locations where recycling and/or composting is not set up or is not separated from landfill waste, all waste is assumed to be landfill.

As per the chart below, in 2017 our global waste total was 782.94 short tons, representing 4% of our total global targeted portfolio in 2017.


Water Consumption

As shown in the chart below, in 2017 our total water consumption was 130,685.17 cubic meters. This represents 31% of our total global targeted portfolio in 2017.


Nielsen Foundation

The Nielsen Foundation, a private foundation funded by Nielsen, seeks to enhance the use of data by the social sector to reduce discrimination, ease global hunger, promote effective education and build strong leadership. The Foundation was established in November 2015 and began grantmaking in 2016. At the outset, Nielsen’s Board of Directors approved an unconditional donation of $36 million to the Foundation. Throughout 2016 and 2017, the first full year of grantmaking, the Foundation distributed $1.47 million across 60 grants.

One of the Foundation’s grant programs is Data for Good (D4G), which awards funding to non-profit organizations that use data in innovative ways to improve their work, and that move beyond the use of data for needs assessments or program monitoring and evaluation. In 2017, $449,400 in Data for Good grants were distributed to eight organizations:

  • Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media: To support expansion of the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient (GD-IQ), a media measurement tool to analyze gender representation in television and film with the goal of impacting researchers, content producers and society.
  • Results for America: To support the development, dissemination and piloting of a “What Works Toolkit” to help shift human services-focused government investments toward more effective, evidence-based practices.
  • African Leadership Academy: To support (via the African Leadership Foundation) the Data Fluency Skills Map + African Data Pilot Course to propel a D4G quantitative skills program.
  • United Nations Foundation: To support the Office of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth on Measuring the State of Youth in SDGs, a data monitoring instrument to track the progress of youth development in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Young Leaders for the SDGs initiative.
  • International Rescue Committee: To support the Better DATA project to strengthen capacity to visualize data and to make decisions that promote accountable and transparent humanitarian actions in response to client feedback.
  • Citizen Schools New York: To support systemic improvements that will help enhance capacity for data collection, elevate understanding of the impact on students’ high school success, and effectively communicate that impact to key constituents.
  • Women for Women International: To support a multi-year randomized controlled trial that rigorously tests economic empowerment programmatic variations with 1,000 women in Nigeria, to understand what drives the profitability and sustainability of women’s self-employment in fragile settings more effectively.
  • DataKind: To support DataKind to effectively and ethically deploy pro bono data science power on a project with a mission-driven organization to help that organization better target resources, scale services, save time and money, and get closer to achieving its mission.

Also in 2017, the Foundation launched the Cause Cards program. Nielsen associates who log 12 or more volunteer hours in a quarter can unlock a “Cause Card” to direct a $200 donation to an eligible non-profit, as a way to further recognize and increase the impact of volunteer hours.

In early 2018, the Nielsen Foundation launched its first signature program with the Tampa Bay Wave’s TechDiversity Accelerator ProgramThis program is specifically dedicated to fostering the growth of diverse startups in Central Florida and across the country. The Foundation granted Tampa Bay Wave $100,000 to power the TechDiversity Accelerator which began its first cohort of startups in May 2018.