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Our commitment to operating responsibly

Our commitment to operating responsibly

11 May 2022

This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer—which surveyed 36,000 people across 28 countries—highlighted societal leadership is now a core function of business. At OUP, we are guided by our mission—to further the University’s objectives of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. However, we also recognize that as a global organization, we have a responsibility to consider the impact of the way we work on the world around us.

That’s why earlier this month, we launched our first ever Responsible Publishing Report which brings together in one place the steps we are taking as an organization to operate responsibly. While we regularly share information around this topic through our Annual Report, website, and social channels, we wanted to create a report to paint a thorough picture of all the work we are doing across OUP. And  I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made so far.

One of the most important themes in the report is sustainability, and in particular details of the launch of our Sustainability strategy. As a global organization, we must be mindful of both our environmental impact, and the role we play in helping the wider publishing industry to drive positive change. Our strategy outlines our ambitions, including the targets we want to achieve by 2025—to be carbon neutral from our own operations, to ensure 100% certified sustainable book paper, and for none of our waste to be sent to landfill. Alongside this, we became signatories to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Publishers Compact, underlining our commitment to educate and advocate for sustainability. We know it will take time to realize our impact, but we are taking steps in the right direction. I look forward to sharing more on our progress towards our targets.

We also continued to support charities and initiatives worldwide that align to and further our mission through financial support, book donations, and volunteering. According to UNESCO, more than 37 million children are still not receiving education because of the impact of the pandemic. Combined with other challenges, such as global conflicts and the growing digital divide in education, there is a significant need to support access to education and research. Just some of the organizations we are proud to have supported this year include Computer Aid, which enables millions of people all over the world to access technology, Book Aid International, who provide books and resources to readers all over the globe, and Literacy India, who empower underprivileged women and children through education. 

However, operating responsibly has to flow through the ways we work and support our people within OUP too. I continue to be proud of our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity in everything we do. We have clear policies and guidelines in place that ensure we, and our business partners, always operate ethically, in support of our mission.

As for our people, we want OUP to be somewhere that people feel they can belong, thrive, and develop.  Whether it’s through tackling unconscious bias, supporting wellbeing, enabling our employees’ development, or looking for ways to improve diversity in our content, we want OUP to be brilliant place for everyone to work. We’re seeing good progress against our goals already. The percentage of leadership roles held by women now stands at 44% versus our target of 50% by 2024; close to 4,500 took our unconscious bias training last financial year; and our ELEVATE programme has supported women and individuals from under-represented groups by providing tailored learning and development opportunities.

As reflected in the Trust Barometer findings, the expectation for organizations to operate responsibly and make a positive impact on the world will only continue to grow. At OUP, we recognize that there is still more we can do; we have bold ambitions but, in many areas, we are only just starting out on our journey. However, thanks to the commitment of our people and the partners we work with, I am proud of what we have achieved so far and confident that looking ahead, our progress will be even greater.