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People and values

Our people are our future. How we engage, develop and lead them, and ensure we have the right skills and behaviours, is central to our strategy.

In a world where competition for talent gets more and more intense – especially in fast-growing, high-tech cities like Cambridge and others we operate in around the globe – we need to continually create a positive environment that attracts outstanding individuals, passionate about their work.

We are investing heavily in developing the skills of our people, to keep them flexible, resilient and focused on the needs of customers, while buffeted by constant commercial change.

As we grow as a global business, with some 50 offices around the world, we are reinforcing our common culture and values, emphasising the highest academic standards and our core purpose: to advance learning, knowledge and research worldwide.

Our numbers have been growing rapidly as we expand: at the year end we had 2,710 permanent colleagues, nearly 60 per cent based outside the UK.

We are investing heavily in developing the skills of our people, to keep them flexible, resilient and focused on the needs of customers.”

In 2017–18 our efforts to support our people included investment in leadership skills; an increased focus on learning and development, particularly in digital knowledge and new sales skills; stronger engagement with colleagues; a review of our ethical framework; and a shift in focus of our community engagement.

The year saw 168 senior and middle managers take our leadership training programmes. Some 210 middle managers went through our lengthiest programme, involving 15 months of part-time learning. Spin-off programmes involved colleagues in our Manila office and sales teams in New York.

The aim has been to strengthen colleagues’ people management skills, while emphasising both the Press’s purpose to advance learning and the need for commercial and entrepreneurial thinking. The feedback from participants has been very positive.

We continued to build our apprenticeship programme, took in a new cohort of graduate trainees, and had colleagues studying for a Masters of Business Administration at the Cranfield School of Management.

We also introduced our first global learning day – where colleagues around the world devoted themselves to study – some face-to-face, some through facilitated online learning. More generally, we have been encouraging self-directed online learning, with material curated by the Press, as well as individual coaching and mentoring.

Our Code of Ethics has been revised and updated this year to include new sections on data protection and publishing ethics. In light of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation, we reaffirmed our commitment to retaining information about our customers, authors, colleagues, and other third-parties securely and confidentially. Our new publishing ethics section reiterated our support for approaches consistent wth our academic and educational communities, including our commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression along with the international copyright law framework.

During the year we published details of our gender pay gap in the UK, as required by the British Government for all organisations employing more than 250 people. Our median gender pay gap is 19 per cent, compared with the UK median of 18.4 per cent. The median value is the middle one in a set of values arranged in order of size. 

We fully support the Government’s move to highlight gender pay gaps. All Press colleagues are treated equally and have equal opportunity to progress through the organisation, regardless of sex, race, religion or belief, age, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender reassignment or disability.

Based on analysis of our data, we are confident that male and female colleagues are paid on equal terms for doing the same jobs across the Press. However, we have more male colleagues at senior management level than we do female colleagues. This creates the overall pay gap.

We are actively addressing the issue. We have a plan for how we intend to reduce, and eventually close, the overall pay gap, including how we ensure increasing opportunities for women to progress or be hired into more senior roles. These include unconscious bias training, support for aspiring female leaders and a review of flexible working arrangements.

Community engagement and charitable action is an important part of our culture. Over the past few years we have been changing the balance of our activities to improve colleague engagement, to emphasise charities in our field of education and to develop global charitable partnerships.

During the year, charitable activity by colleagues around the world, together with donations from the Press, raised more than £57,500. In the UK colleagues raised £10,574 (£9,692 of which was also matched by the Press) and gave £14,350 through Give As You Earn, which enables colleagues to make donations from their monthly pay to a chosen charity.

Volunteering activities were undertaken by 248 colleagues around the world. The Press Board went back to school for a day, volunteering at North Cambridge Academy’s Enterprise Day, helping students develop their business ideas and supporting them with creating a pitch.

Our UK Charity of the Year was Rowan Humberstone, a Cambridge-based charity and arts centre for people with learning disabilities. Colleagues raised £2,284 for Rowan, £2,074 of which was matched by the Press – a total of £4,358. Together with a Press donation of £10,000, the charity received almost £15,000. The Press hosted an evening performance by Rowan students, Through The Cloud I Can See You.

Local students visited the Press in New York, their first activity with Charity of the Year, PENCIL
Local students visited the Press in New York, their first activity with Charity of the Year, PENCIL

Our New York office ran its first Charity of the Year selection and built a relationship with PENCIL, a local educational charity which works with the business community, organising activities and bringing together the best ideas, talent and resources to support students from all backgrounds to reach their full potential. PENCIL received a donation of $5,000 from the Press in December. In March, students were invited to our office to network with colleagues, take part in interview workshops and have their CVs reviewed.

Meanwhile, some £4,420 was raised by colleagues via crowdfunding in support of colleagues who were affected by the earthquake in Mexico. This amount was matched by the Press, with an additional donation of £3,000 going to the UNICEF relief fund.

A total of 75,968 books were donated to a wide range of causes. They included libraries working in needy areas of Africa; projects helping migrants, refugees and displaced people; survivors of domestic abuse; the homeless; prisoners and young offenders; children’s homes and hostels for young people; and people with disabilities.


We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment through careful management of our activities, products and services. For the past ten years we have held certification to the Environmental Management System Standard ISO14001. Every year we monitor our carbon emissions to help us evaluate and further improve our environmental performance.

During 2017–18 we discussed the development of a long-term carbon reduction strategy that would cover the decades to 2050, dividing and prioritising our goals into the three different ‘scopes’, or categories defined by the ‘Greenhouse Gas Protocol’, a standard that helps countries and cities track progress toward climate goals. We also re-evaluated our internal and external environmental risks and opportunities and examined the possibility of introducing solar panels on flat roof areas of the Shaftesbury Road headquarters. 

We planted a sedum roof on the flat roof around the courtyard of the University Printing House which will filter CO2 and pollutants and encourage bio-diversity as well as its direct benefits. 

During 2017–18 total energy use at all of our UK sites fell by three per cent to 1,189 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. At Shaftesbury Road electricity consumption fell by two per cent to 1,089 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Energy savings at the site included the migration of data storage to the cloud and the installation of local boilers in kitchen areas, motion sensors in refurbished areas, and dusk to dawn lighting in the visitors’ car park set to the astrological time clock.

Business travel, which now accounts for 65 per cent of our carbon emissions, fell by three per cent during the year, despite the continued global growth of the Press, while emissions from company owned vehicles fell by four per cent to 83 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Total landfill waste generated at all UK sites rose from two tonnes of CO2 equivalent to 4.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This was due to office refurbishments. Recycling remained at under 0.2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. We have switched to waste contractors who do not use landfill sites; waste is instead processed using recycling, incinerating and anaerobic digestion methods. We introduced a plan to reduce plastic packaging in the Shaftesbury Road restaurant. Our Cambridge bookshop promoted Earth Day, which this year was focusing on ending single use plastic pollution. 

We further sought to increase the environmental engagement of our suppliers by evaluating their environmental credentials as part of our tendering process, while we continued to provide assurance that all the paper we purchase is from sustainable sources.

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