Our purpose is to champion progress in everything we do, and we know that we have a role to play in addressing the environmental and social challenges that face our world. We call our Group-wide approach “sustainable progress”.
As we continue to weave sustainability into the fabric of our growth strategy and operations, we are developing our environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy based on five key priorities—content, colleagues, communities, climate and environment, and governance.
We have woven environmental sustainability into the fabric of our growth and operations. The Economist Group’s ambition is to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 25% by 2025 across our full value chain, which is the complete range of activities we undertake as we bring our products to market.
Our longer-term vision is to halve our emissions by 2030 and achieve science-based net zero by 2045 at the latest. This is aligned with the recommendations of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a coalition for corporate climate action, to achieve the most ambitious aim of the Paris agreement to limit global warming from pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C.
Informed environmental choices
Our strategy includes a stronger focus on our digital product formats and significant reductions in travel. We have reduced our commercial business travel by approximately 40% from pre-covid-19 levels. We continue to reduce bulk print distribution, improve on the environmental impact of our print publications and encourage more digital consumption of our products. To achieve our emissions reduction targets, partnership and collaboration with our stakeholders, suppliers and peers will be key.
We occupy leased offices with few opportunities for onsite energy generation. We rely on green energy tariffs and energy attribute certificates (EACs) to purchase renewable energy equal to 100% of our global electricity consumption for our offices and print sites.
Beyond value chain mitigation
Our primary focus is on a rapid emissions reduction. But reduction alone will not achieve the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The world will need to remove about 10bn tonnes of CO2e annually by mid-century, and 20bn tonnes of CO2e per year by 2100. So we are taking decisive action beyond our value chain to accelerate the net-zero transition by supporting innovative climate technologies and solutions. We’ve continued to purchase carbon dioxide removal from Climeworks, a Swiss company that filters out atmospheric CO2 for disposal in geological storage formations. We are also supporting high-quality, jurisdictional REDD+ and Gold Standard projects to protect and restore rainforests, and to purchase energy efficient cookstoves.
Commitment at Board, leadership and colleague levels
Environmental sustainability is a strategic priority for The Economist Group. Our goals and targets are approved by our leadership team and Board members, and are included in our key performance indicators. The Economist Sustainability Group is our formalised internal network of sustainability champions. This cross-functional, global team of more than 30 colleagues works on specific focus areas – such as carbon emissions management, communications, sustainable events, supply chain and office engagement—supporting our progress and helping to establish environmentally sustainable behaviours as part of our corporate culture. Volunteers and ideas come from across the organisation, working through our intranet and in-house Sustainability Slack channel.
Climate change, war, disinformation and fake news, polarised debate, exploitation—these and many other challenges threaten to hold back progress and undermine freedom. And because these issues touch everything we report and provide insights on, we examine them from every angle.
Through our coverage, research and partnerships we contribute to upholding press freedoms, combating disinformation, and making sure everyone can get access to fair, balanced insight and analysis. One issue we’ve focused on in particular is climate change— because its impact will be so widespread. It will drive environmental degradation, resource scarcity, pollution, poverty and social inequality. Now more than ever, there is a need for trusted, independent coverage and reasoned debate to address the gap between current effort and the level of change required from policymakers, business and finance to prevent catastrophic climate change. This year, for example, in the run-up to COP26 The Economist took a clear-eyed look at the politics, adaptation and technologies required to address extreme climate change across its written journalism, audio, film, data and newsletter formats. “To a Lesser Degree”, a thought-provoking, limited-edition podcast series on climate change was launched in September 2021, and our special report, “No safe place: The 3°C future”, helped inform our climate scenario analysis used in our TCFD disclosure.
Impacting the environment
Climate change management is also a key pillar of Economist Impact, launched in September 2021. Our global team of more than 120 economists, researchers and analysts regularly partner with world-renowned brands to pioneer evidence-based policy research on climate, the environment and sustainability. Output is in the form of benchmarks, economic and social impact analysis, white papers, forecasting and scenario modelling. Key messages are amplified across branded content, media and advertising, design thinking and data visualisation, social media and bespoke global events.
We’re a global business, connected to communities everywhere we work, and to the wider community that embraces civil society as well as our readers and customers.
The Economist Charitable Trust
The Economist Charitable Trust was established in 1986. Since then the Trust has pursued humanitarian progress globally by supporting charities that improve the plight of disadvantaged groups.
The Trust funds charities chosen by The Economist Group employees—matching money raised by employees and donating to nominated projects annually. The Trust can agree that a charitable cause may merit double-matching of colleagues‘ donations. In 2022, the Trust double-matched donations from colleagues to support the UNICEF appeal for families and children affected by the war in Ukraine.
Last year, the Trust supported these projects: Kuma Cambodia, Global Kids, St. George's Society of New York, HELP for Domestic Workers, Breadwinners, Indigo Children’s Fund and Kisharon School.
Code First Girls
The Economist Group is partnering with Code First Girls, a provider of free technology and coding courses for women, as part of our ongoing commitment to promote greater diversity and inclusion at the Group and in our communities. To support the initiative’s mission to reduce the gender diversity gap in the technology sector, we launched a series of eight-week web development courses in October 2021. 120 students have now successfully completed the course, taught by our talented and growing technology team in Birmingham and Gurgaon, together with Code First Girls’ instructors. Building on this success, we are planning to launch a massive open online course (MOOC) in the coming year.
The Economist Educational Foundation
The Economist Educational Foundation changes the lives of young people by training them to think critically and understand current affairs. We are an independent charity established in 2012 by employees of The Economist Group.
We work to broaden young people’s horizons with inspiring, high-quality discussions about the most pressing issues of our time. We give teachers resources and training to facilitate topical discussions in their classrooms. Young people use our innovative online platform to join discussions with peers in different countries, with input from leading topic experts.
The Economist Group is editorially independent and free of partisan bias, state control or outside influence of any kind. Today, this autonomy is among our most fiercely-upheld attributes. Since 1843, The Economist's editor-in-chief has been the guardian of our
The Group operates in a clear and ethical context, and the Board reviews and approves a set of guiding principles every year, which are as follows.
We value our customers
We offer insight, analysis and services that are valued by our customers.
We are committed to independence, integrity and quality
Underpinning our ability to fulfill this objective is our commitment to independence, integrity and delivering high quality in everything we do. These values govern our relationships with readers, audiences and clients, shareholders, colleagues, suppliers and the community at large.
We believe in conducting business with common decency
We are opposed to bribery and do not engage in corrupt practices. We abide by strict guidelines governing the acceptance of gifts and the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest.
We are opposed to slavery and human trafficking
We are opposed to slavery and human trafficking, both in our business and in our supply chain. See our Modern Slavery Act statement.
We abide by local laws and regulations
As an international company, we conduct business in many different markets around the world. In the countries in which we operate, we abide by local laws and regulations. See our list of our primary legal entities by jurisdiction.
We follow a robust tax governance and risk management policy
We follow clear principles in the conduct of our tax affairs and how we engage with the UK and other tax authorities. See our current UK tax strategy and tax and risk management policy.
We believe in charitable giving
We make an active contribution to local charities by charitable giving. We encourage our people to participate in charitable and community activities and we enable them to take time off for this purpose. We match employee donations of time and money to charities.
We are committed to climate change management
We respect environmental standards and comply with relevant local laws. We take environmental issues seriously. See our report on climate and the environment, as well as our disclosure in accordance with the Taskforce on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) in our annual report 2022.
We value our colleagues and treat each other fairly
The Group is committed to equality of opportunity in all employment practices and policies. We do not discriminate against employees or job applicants on the grounds of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital status, race, colour, religion, national origin or disability. We support colleagues who through disability or illness are unable to perform their duties, by adapting the work environment and hours of work to suit them as far as practicable. We provide employee assistance programmes and access to mental-health facilities.
We are committed to increasing employee diversity
We particularly focus on ensuring that we recruit from the widest possible pool of talent. Data on the composition of our Group by gender, race and ethnicity can be found in our annual report. We are also keen that people feel comfortable and valued at work, regardless of their background. We recognise that it is essential to keep colleagues informed of the progress of the Group. We provide colleagues with information on the Group’s activities and its financial performance through regular meetings and communication through our intranet. We have a strong consultative culture and we follow legal and regulatory requirements to consult with colleagues on major issues affecting the company.
We are committed to reducing the gender pay gap
As an employer, we hold ourselves accountable to champion a Group culture that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion. The proportion of women in senior roles continues to grow, however, our gender pay gap is still significant, and we are working to change it.
The Economist Group is unusual in its governance structure in having a group of trustees who are separate from, and independent of, the board of directors, and of the shareholders. The reason is simple: The Economist Group’s credibility is based on the honesty, integrity and independence of its journalism, and remains free from the commercial pressures of the rest of the Group. The trustees’ principal role is to safeguard those qualities, including ensuring continued independence and ownership of the company and the editorial independence of our journalism, while the Board’s role is the more traditional one of overseeing the Group’s long-term success.
The share capital of The Economist Newspaper Limited, The Economist Group's parent company, is divided into ordinary shares, "A" special shares, "B" special shares and trust shares. The company is private and none of the shares are listed. Its Articles of Association also state that no individual or company can own or control more than 50% of its total share capital, and that no single shareholder may exercise more than 20% of voting rights exercised at a General Meeting of the company.
Ordinary shares are principally held by employees, past employees, long-standing family holders and EXOR NV. The ordinary shareholders are not entitled to participate in the appointment of directors, but in most other respects rank equally with the other shareholders. The transfer of ordinary shares must be approved by the board of directors.
The "A" special shares are held by individual shareholders including the Cadbury, Layton, Rothschild, Schroder and other family interests as well as a number of colleagues and former staff.
The "B" special shares are all held by Exor which holds 43.4% of the total share capital of the company excluding the trust shares. Exor purchased the majority of its shareholding from Pearson plc in October 2015.
The trust shares are held by trustees, whose consent is needed for certain corporate activities, including the transfer of "A" special and "B" special shares. The rights attached to the trust shares provide for the continued independence of the ownership of the company and the editorial independence of The Economist. Apart from these rights, they do not include the right to vote, receive dividends or have any other economic interest in the company. The appointments of the editor of The Economist and of the chairman of the company are subject to the approval of the trustees.
The general management of the business of the company is under the control of the board of directors. There are 13 seats allowable on the Board, seven of which may be appointed by holders of the "A" special shares and six by the holders of the "B" special shares.
The Board is a diverse group of individuals with superlative skills in their specialist fields. Their vision and commitment to excellence continue to guide The Economist Group in its development and dedication to global progress. The role of the Board is to promote the long-term success of The Economist and the company as a whole. The Board determines the long-term strategy of the Group, with the added responsibility of preserving its unique independent editorial voice.
The role of the trustees is to ensure the continued independence and ownership of the company and the editorial independence of The Economist. The editor-in-chief is appointed by the trustees, who are independent of commercial, political and proprietorial influences.
The Economist Group is led by Lara Boro who joined as chief executive in 2019. Leaders for each of The Economist Group’s businesses, as well as departmental and functional leads make up Lara’s talented leadership team. Zanny Minton Beddoes leads The Economist as editor-in-chief and also sits on The Economist Group’s leadership team.