Corporate responsibility and stakeholders
A RELX Group case study

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Page 3: External stakeholders

Reed Elsevier 20 Relx3External stakeholders are those individuals or groups outside a business. RELX Group differentiates itself from competitors by highlighting its CR performance to external stakeholders.

The growth and future of our company relies on our ability to deliver sustainable, essential information and services to customers and their willingness to accept the value placed on them. Applying a CR focus to our customers gives us a competitive advantage and enhances our reputation.

Over the years, we have been increasing the online products and services we provide to our customers. In 2015, this accounted for 70% of our revenue. By providing online tools and content we increase our customer’s productivity and achieve closer partnerships. We conduct widespread surveys of our customers which highlight potential improvements to our products and services. In this way, customers have a real role in helping the business to develop and grow, resulting in longer-term relationships where customers feel they have an input into the services offered. It builds loyalty and creates the potential for increased business.

Maintaining the integrity of what we publish is vital to the confidence of our customers. To this end, the Editorial Policy sets the standard for how we generate and commission content, covering magazine and journal articles, books, online only content, social media, insight from big data, conference materials, and marketing. We have also developed an Editorial Policy for our suppliers who provide content. Furthermore, the RELX Group Quality First Principles were launched to ensure that our content and data meet our customers’ quality expectations. In 2015, these principles lay the foundations for 23 risk assessments on quality in preparation of quality audits that will take place throughout 2016.

We ensure that we create products that are usable by everyone including people who may experience some type of disability. We have formalised this commitment in the RELX Group Accessibility Policy.

We help our customer-facing employees through a series of CR as a Sales Tool webinars. In addition we have developed a fast facts document for sales staff to improve understanding of CR issues among our customers.  

The supply chain is a potential risk for the business. We must ensure our suppliers meet the same ethical standards we set for our corporate behaviour to prevent negative impacts on our reputation and on our ability to serve customers. Suppliers must adhere to all laws, embody and promote best practice in business operations, treat employees well and respect the environment, as indicated in the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact (UNGC) to which we are a signatory. Given the importance to us of an ethical supply chain, we have developed a Socially Responsible Supplier (SRS) programme encompassing all RELX Group businesses, supported by a working group comprised of colleagues with operations, distribution, and procurement expertise, and a dedicated SRS Director from the Global Procurement team.

Governments set the external environment in which we operate, not least through laws, regulation and advice. Engagement allows us to follow important developments and share our company perspective. For example, data privacy and security is important to our customers and the future of our business. At the same time, governments are exploring ways they can protect their citizens’ privacy. In February 2015, CEO Mark Kelsey was invited to the White House Summit in cybersecurity and consumer protection hosted by US President Barack Obama to explore partnerships that would bolster security.  

RELX Group makes a difference to communities around the world through its global RE Cares programme, which is supported both centrally and in all business divisions. Our ‘license to operate’ depends on our good relations with the communities we operate in around the world. In 2015 RE Cares Champions donated more than $400,000 in central funds to 40 charities. We also raised more than $170,000 for our global fundraising partner – the International Rescue Committee – to support education for disadvantaged young people in Sierra Leone. In the year, 37% of our employees volunteered through RE Cares. According to LBG data, the average volunteering rate is approximately 35% for the media sector, and 16% for all sectors.

We contribute to society by focusing on our unique contributions; in doing so, we benefit others and add value for RELX Group by building trust with internal and external stakeholders and creating new opportunities. We also positively impact the environment, principally through the information we produce which informs debate, aids decision makers and encourages research and development. We directly impact the environment through the consumption of natural resources such as energy, water and waste generation, through our direct operations, supply chain and customer use of our products and services. We are committed to reducing any negative environmental impacts, while continually improving our environmental performance.

CR Networks
RELX Group is committed to using its extensive networks and expertise to facilitate the exchange and distribution of useful information. With a growing portfolio of environmental products and services, the RELX Group Environmental Challenge was launched to leverage internal expertise in support of innovative projects that provide sustainable access to safe water and improved sanitation where it is presently at risk. In 2015, the winning project was Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation (AIDFI) a Philippines-based social enterprise that provides reliable drinking water to upland rural areas using a unique hydraulic ram pump. All registrants for the Challenge receive free access to relevant environmental products to help shape their applications. We use our networks to promote the Challenge and the work of the winners.

To support the launch of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we produced Sustainability Science, a first of its kind, free resource to explore the state of research underpinning the SDGs. The report highlights opportunities for greater collaboration between the global north and south, and among developing countries. It also shows areas, like justice, where research output could be increased. During the year, we also worked with the UN Global Compact (UNGC) on Business for the Rule of Law, new guidance to help companies go beyond legal minimums to strengthen the frameworks necessary for development. It was a tangible way we demonstrated our commitment to the UNGC’s 10 principles encompassing human rights, labour, the environment and anti-bribery.  

RELX Group | Corporate responsibility and stakeholders