Non-Financial Performance Indicators


At the end of the financial year 2016, the Group had 116,434 employees worldwide. In 2016, there were 1,225 people serving in trainee positions in Bertelsmann companies in Germany.

The purpose of the human resources (HR) strategy is to support the implementation of the Group’s strategy. In 2016, the main focus was again on the further development and training of employees. This included a comprehensive adaptation of the central talent management processes and tools and the establishment of further talent pools.

Continuous employee training is the basis of a company’s future economic success. In view of this, the training courses offered by Bertelsmann University have been further digitized and expanded. Furthermore, at the end of 2016, some 80,000 employees in 31 countries were able to access training courses on the Group-wide “peoplenet” HR IT platform.

At Bertelsmann, partnership primarily involves working with employees to shape the company. For this reason, the Employee Survey has been an important tool for many years at Bertelsmann. In 2016, 89 percent of employees took part in the worldwide survey. Supporting dialogue between the employee representatives and dialogue with Bertelsmann management is also very important for a cooperative corporate culture. As a result of this, a number of conferences were held in 2016 that, in particular, looked at how changes could be addressed. At the Diversity Conference in February 2016, business cases on the topic of diversity within the Group were presented and new concepts developed.

One priority of the HR strategy is the Bertelsmann Sense of Purpose. The Sense of Purpose “To Empower. To Create. To Inspire.” was formulated and communicated in an international dialogue with various stakeholders.

Bertelsmann has been one of the pioneers in profit sharing since 1970. Thus, a total of €95 million (previous year: €85 million) was distributed to employees worldwide in 2016, thanks to the positive operating results for the previous year.

Corporate Responsibility

The aim of corporate responsibility (CR) at Bertelsmann is to bring the economic interests in line with the Group’s social and ecological concerns as part of a dialogue with all relevant stakeholders.

In view of this, the Bertelsmann Corporate Responsibility Council continued its cross-divisional dialogue and the strategic further development of significant Group-wide CR topics in 2016. The focus here was on employee concerns such as training, fair working conditions, health and diversity, societal and environmental concerns such as freedom of the press, media user/customer protection and eco-efficiency.

In 2016, Bertelsmann reported on its activities in these areas in the magazine “24/7 Responsibility.” The Group also published an online index on its website in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI G4) and Bertelsmann’s fifth annual Carbon Footprint report with extensive details regarding greenhouse gas emissions and further environmental data.

Also in 2016, Bertelsmann made donations and was involved in a wide range of funding initiatives in the areas of education, culture, science and creativity.


Businesses invest in the research and development of new products in order to ensure their long-term competitiveness. The media sector has a similar imperative to create innovative media content and media-related products and services in a rapidly changing environment. This means that rather than conventional research and development activities, the company’s own innovative power and business development are particularly important to Bertelsmann. The long-term success of the Group depends heavily on product innovations, investing in growth markets and integrating new technologies. Furthermore, innovative expertise is very important for strategy implementation and, in the future, will be anchored even more strongly within the Bertelsmann Group in organizational terms.

Bertelsmann relies on innovation and growth in core operations and new business fields. The key success factors of Bertelsmann’s innovation management include continuously following cross-industry trends and observing new markets. At the Group level, Bertelsmann works with the divisions to continuously identify and implement innovative business strategies. Alongside market-oriented activities, support is given to Group-wide initiatives that actively promote knowledge transfer and collaboration. At regular innovation forums, executives meet with internal and external experts to examine success factors for innovation and creativity.

The innovations at RTL Group are focused on three core topics – developing and acquiring new, high-quality TV content and formats, using all digital means of distribution, and expanding diverse forms of advertising sales and monetization. The new innovative TV formats include “The Young Pope,” a production by the Italian Fremantle Media subsidiary Wildside, and the adaptation of the novel “American Gods” by Fremantle Media North America that is currently in production. RTL Group also expanded its position in the marketing of online videos. In particular, the takeover of Smartclip by Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland reinforced the technological competence of RTL Group and offers global innovation opportunities in cooperation with SpotX. Synergy Committees are used for exchanging information and knowledge within RTL Group. As a result of the growing significance of big data and the provision and use of data, the position of Head of Smart Data was created at Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland in 2016.

The innovations at Penguin Random House incorporate a number of key areas, including innovative approaches toward content, distribution and interaction with consumers. In the digital sector the company is exploring new technologies in conjunction with well-known industry players. One example of this from the United States is the recording of children’s book titles on the voice-activated platform Google Home. Penguin Random House also continues to identify new ways in which readers can discover authors and their works in order to reach the widest possible audience. Examples of this include “Subway Reads,” an eight-week advertising campaign in the United States, where train commuters were offered e-books by Penguin Random House, and “Puffin World of Stories,” a partnership with OnBlackheath for a family festival in the United Kingdom.

As well as the digital transformation, the innovations at Gruner + Jahr in various market segments were also a key focus in 2016. The digital business also grew strongly as a result of significantly increased advertising revenues from the brand websites and at the performance marketer Ligatus through innovative developments such as the marketing platforms InCircles and AppLike or the multichannel food network “Club of Cooks.” G+J expanded its e-commerce activities with the “Schöner Wohnen” shop. The publishing house Deutsche Medien-Manufaktur founded by Gruner + Jahr and Landwirtschaftsverlag successfully launched innovative magazines such as “Wolf” and “Essen & Trinken mit Thermomix.” G+J also formed Germany’s largest provider of content communication services, Territory.

The innovations at BMG concern market access and product innovations in particular. In 2016 these included the global bundling of distribution in the label business into one distribution partner (Warner/ADA) and the creation of the songwriter workshop model SoundLab. In China, BMG expanded its cooperation with Alibaba Music, the music division of the e-commerce company Alibaba, with the aim of developing new music offerings for the Chinese market and to make it easier for international artists to access digital music platforms in China. In the digital sector, BMG extended the management of audiovisual content to live streaming and was able to stream excerpts from concerts by the artists Albert Hammond, Katie Melua and LP live on the Internet as part of its television program “Berlin Live” in cooperation with Arte.

The innovations at Arvato were driven forward in a number of different areas. These include promoting internal dialogue on innovation topics, analyzing the use of innovative technologies, investing in innovative projects in the area of cloud infrastructure, creating innovation partnerships with companies such as IBM Watson, developing new products and solutions in the area of fraud prevention, and investing in innovative companies.

The innovations of the Bertelsmann Printing Group are mainly in optimizing technology and processes and in developing new products and services. One innovative approach is the development and launch of the optical data carrier Ultra HD Blu-ray 100 by Sonopress. In summer 2016, the storage media producer Sonopress obtained the certification for the innovative optical data carrier, commenced fully automated production of the innovative data carrier and thus successfully positioned itself in a new market segment.

The innovations at Bertelsmann Education Group refer to the further development of digital education offerings. For example, Relias Learning developed over 400 new online courses for employees in the healthcare sector and started local courses in the United Kingdom, Germany and China. The group was also able to expand its capabilities in the area of analytics with the aim of creating personalized training courses and improving performance within companies. At Udacity, further training programs were developed, such as, among other things, “Self-Driving Car Engineer” and “Artificial Intelligence,” which give students the qualifications for future jobs in technology.