Non-Financial Performance Indicators

The following section describes the non-financial performance indicators at Bertelsmann. For more information about the organization, management and key topics of corporate responsibility, please refer to “Combined Non-Financial Statement”.


At the end of the financial year 2017, the Group had 119,089 employees worldwide. In 2017, 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 2017, 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, including the expansion of talent pools and digital learning.

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, for example through a Group-wide scholarship program for data science. Furthermore, at the end of 2017, some 90,000 employees in 46 countries were able to access training courses on the Group-wide digital “peoplenet” HR IT platform.

At Bertelsmann, partnership primarily involves working with employees to shape the company. To ensure that this happens, the Employee Survey has been an important tool for many years at Bertelsmann. Measures were developed and piloted, based on the feedback from the previous year’s Employee Survey.

Supporting dialogue between the employee representatives and dialogue with Bertelsmann management is also very important for a cooperative corporate culture. At the Group Dialogue Conference in December 2017, future work developments were discussed, and new concepts developed. In addition, the recommendations of the Bertelsmann Diversity Conference 2016 concerning training and career development were implemented.

Continuing to develop the corporate culture is another priority of the HR strategy. In 2017, the Group began to revise the Bertelsmann Essentials (company values) in accordance with the Sense of Purpose formulated in 2016.

Bertelsmann has been one of the pioneers in profit sharing since 1970. Accordingly, in 2017, a total of €105 million of the 2016 profit was distributed to employees across the Group (previous year: €95 million).

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 CR Council continued its cross-divisional dialogue and the strategic further development of significant Group-wide CR topics in 2017. The focus here was on topics of particular relevance relating to employee and social concerns, respect for human rights, the fight against corruption and bribery, and environmental concerns. Bertelsmann made donations and was involved in 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.

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: continuously developing and acquiring new, highquality TV content and formats; using all digital means of distribution; and expanding diverse forms of advertising sales and monetization. New and innovative TV formats include the show “Lost in Time,” an interactive production by Fremantle Media Norge, in which special effects and reality are combined in real time. In addition, RTL Group invested in virtual reality for the first time and initiated the latest round of investments of the Israeli start-up Inception VR. RTL Group is also pursuing an ambitious growth plan for its advertising technology business. The primary objective is to create a global, independent monetization platform for channels, video-on-demand services and content providers. For example, SpotX and Smartclip are to be merged to form an integrated advertising technology company by the end of 2018. The focus here is mainly on adressable TV, which means that advertising can be targeted at TV households via linear television based on criteria such as income and age. Synergy committees are used for exchanging information and knowledge within RTL Group.

Innovations at Penguin Random House are related to the areas of content and distribution. They are central to forging direct relationships with millions of readers by utilizing the platforms to market the books and authors. As one example, subscribers worldwide receive regular e-mail updates from the publishers on early cover reveals, advance excerpts, sweepstakes, author appearances and more. With the novel “Wonder,” the company is capitalizing on the theatrical release of the film adaptation by experimenting with large-scale merchandising through new retail channels and promotional partnerships with film production companies in an effort to convert fans of the movie to purchasers of the book. An example of innovation in partnership with new and emerging technology is the Penguin Young Readers’ imprint collaboration with both Google and Amazon to make the app Mad Libs accessible on their respective voice assistants.

The innovations at Gruner + Jahr included digital marketing and the expansion of the brand business and the existing magazine division. The strong growth of the digital business was generated above all by the significantly increased advertising revenues from brand websites and the strong growth of the app recommendation platform AppLike, although Germany’s food community Chefkoch also continued to grow. G+J expanded its brand-related activities with furniture from the “Schöner Wohnen” collection. In 2017 innovative magazines were launched such as the interior design magazine “Ideat.” The publishing house Deutsche Medien-Manufaktur founded by Gruner + Jahr and Landwirtschaftsverlag successfully launched “Hygge.”

The innovations at BMG are driven by the company’s artistand songwriter-friendly approach encompassing everything from contracts to administration, marketing and finance, and reflecting its core values of Fairness, Transparency and Service. An example of this came in 2017 with the launch of a mobile app to allow songwriters 24/7 access to their royalty information via their mobile phones. A version tailored to the needs of recording artists will be released during 2018. Powerful endorsement for BMG’s innovative technology came with the decision of the TV content streaming service Netflix to move the administration of its music publishing rights to BMG.

The innovations at Arvato were introduced in all four solution groups and primarily concern the use of innovative technologies, development and implementation of new service offerings, and investment in innovative companies. In CRM Solutions, Arvato used new technologies such as analytics, machine learning and chatbots to optimize the service experience. In the SCM Solutions business area, data goggles and driverless transport systems are increasingly used. Arvato Financial Solutions worked on innovative cloud solutions to combat fraud in the healthcare and e-commerce sectors. Moreover, in the financial year 2017 Arvato again invested in innovative companies in the fintech and analytics sectors.

The innovations of the Bertelsmann Printing Group in 2017 again are mainly in improving technology and processes and in developing and marketing new products and services. With the production of the innovative Ultra HD Blu-ray data carrier, Sonopress was one of the pioneers in developing a growth market. In recognition of this, the company received the Digital Product Innovation Award at the start of the year from the US industrial association Digital Entertainment Group. Other innovation projects focused on 3-D scanning and the integration of augmented reality markers in books, magazines and catalogs.

The innovations at Bertelsmann Education Group mainly consist of the further development of digital and customized education offerings and the expansion of existing business areas. For example, Relias expanded its expertise in analytics and performance management in order to provide more data-based support to customers in the healthcare sector in improving performance within companies. At the same time, Relias developed a large number of online courses in the United States and expanded the range of courses being offered in the United Kingdom, Germany and China. Udacity developed new Nanodegree programs, including deep learning, digital marketing and software development for robotics, thus setting further standards in student qualifications for future technology jobs.