For Bertelsmann, corporate responsibility (CR) means taking responsibility for its employees, society and the environment. The company's economic interests are to be reconciled with social and ecological concerns, with the goal of shaping a better future. This attitude is firmly anchored in the corporate values “Creativity & Entrepreneurship,” the Bertelsmann Essentials.

With this in mind, the company works continuously on the strategic development of its corporate responsibility efforts. Under the leadership of the Chief Human Resources Officer, managers from the divisions regularly meet in the CR Council. Together, they drive forward the anchoring of corporate responsibility and Group-wide CR topics and ensure the cross-divisional coordination of CR management. At Group level, the Corporate Responsibility department coordinates and supports the work of the CR Council in close cooperation with other Group functions. In line with Bertelsmann's corporate structure, CR projects and measures are implemented by the divisions and companies.

Integrity & Compliance

Bertelsmann has established a comprehensive Integrity & Compliance program, and its effectiveness is ensured through regular evaluation and risk-oriented adjustments. Beyond the Bertelsmann Code of Conduct, which is based on the Bertelsmann Essentials, further guidelines have been issued on key topics such as anticorruption, antitrust law, foreign trade and business partner compliance. Employees receive comprehensive training and guidance, and compliance violations are not tolerated. Suspected violations are investigated immediately, and any detected violations are remedied without delay.

More information about corporate responsibility at Bertelsmann and the Group’s annual CR reporting, is available online at:

Highlights 2021

The 8 Bertelsmann
CR Priorities

Creative/Editorial Independence & Freedom of Expression

Content Responsibility

Fair Working Conditions

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Health & Well-being


Responsibility in the Supply Chain

Climate Change
Arvato and Bertelsmann Printing Group did not rate the topics Creative/Editorial Independence & Freedom of Expression and Content Responsibility.

Bertelsmann Corporate Responsibility Program

The Bertelsmann Executive Board has adopted a new, Group-wide Corporate Responsibility Program (2021–2023). Lead managed by the Bertelsmann CR Council and in cooperation with the divisions, a comprehensive package of measures was developed for the eight Group-wide CR priorities.
Bertelsmann has always placed a priority on taking responsibility as a company based on its own convictions and beliefs. Bertelsmann sees corporate responsibility as an opportunity. Against this backdrop and in view of rising stakeholder expectations, the CR Council developed a new Group-wide Bertelsmann CR Program (2021–2023) under the leadership of Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Immanuel Hermreck. This was achieved in a “co-creation” process with more than 70 colleagues from the divisions and Solution Groups. “The CR program is an important milestone for corporate responsibility at Bertelsmann,” says Immanuel Hermreck. “We want to underscore our responsibility to employees, society and the environment with a comprehensive package of measures.”

Bertelsmann’s new CR program (2021–2023) serves to further develop the content and organization of the eight Group-wide CR priorities (see illustration). Strategic objectives, targets, measures, progress indicators and milestones were defined for each priority. The CR program comprises around 150 individual measures to be implemented by the end of 2023. Any content that is relevant for the 2021 financial year is explained at various points in the Combined Non-Financial Statement in this Annual Report.

Climate Neutral by 2030

Bertelsmann aspires to be a climate-neutral company by 2030. This ambitious target was confirmed by the Science Based Targets initiative in 2021. In addition, this year's “be green Day” campaign again set a new record.
Science Based Targets Initiative
In the course of developing its “Bertelsmann Climate Neutral by 2030” climate strategy, Bertelsmann joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The initiative is a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). It mobilizes companies to set ambitious, scientifically based climate targets and evaluates them independently. At Bertelsmann, it reviewed the principles of carbon footprint calculation and the level of targeted reduction in emissions. In March 2021, the independent validation of the climate target by SBTi was successfully completed. The result of the audit confirms that the Group-wide target of reducing 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 is ambitious and in line with the 1.5°C target of the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Climate change is a huge challenge, which is why it is one of Bertelsmann's eight CR priorities,” says Immanuel Hermreck. “The Science Based Targets initiative has confirmed us in our ambition to make Bertelsmann a climate-neutral company by 2030.”
“Be green Day” campaign
The 2021 “be green Day” campaign under the heading “Act green, live healthy: Climate Neutrality 2030 – only with you” set a new record: Colleagues at 120 Bertelsmann sites in 20 countries took part in the campaign for environmental and climate protection – surpassing the record set by the previous campaign in 2019 by more than 30 sites. In total, more than 1,000 contributions were uploaded to the “be green Day” world map over a six-month period. The contributions focused primarily on the topics of nutrition and mobility. Based on the contributions submitted as part of the campaign, 220 trees were planted in the Gütersloh area.

The new Bertelsmann
Code of Conduct

The Bertelsmann Code of Conduct is the guideline for legally compliant and responsible behavior that is binding for everyone in the Group, which makes it an expression of one of the Bertelsmann Executive Board's strategic priorities. Its contents are evaluated at regular intervals and adapted to the latest developments.

The new version published in 2021 once again explicitly emphasizes the prohibition of sexual harassment, responsibility for Bertelsmann's content and the need to review integrity when selecting business partners.

Beyond this, the previous online reporting system for potential compliance violations is replaced with a new, user-friendly “speak-up system” available both online and by phone. Reprisals against people who raise concerns or report violations in good faith are not permitted; this, too, is explicitly stated in the new Code of Conduct. The new Code of Conduct is accessible in 12 languages.
eIntegrity & Compliance at Bertelsmann