At the end of the financial year 2015, the Group had 117,249 employees worldwide. In 2015, there were 1,217 people serving in trainee positions in Bertelsmann companies in Germany.

The human resources (HR) strategy was revised and prioritized as part of establishing the Human Resources Board department. In 2015, the main focus was on the further development and training of employees. This included a comprehensive adaptation of the central talent management processes and tools as well as the establishment of talent pools.

Continuous employee training is vital to a company’s economic success. In view of this, the training courses offered by Bertelsmann University have been optimized and expanded. For example, Bertelsmann globally integrated the online video courses offered by the international e-learning provider lynda.com into the Group-wide HR IT platform “peoplenet” and accordingly offers training to over 64,000 employees in 13 countries.

At Bertelsmann, partnership primarily involves working with the employees to shape the company. This means supporting dialogue between the employee representatives and dialogue with the Bertelsmann management. At the Group Dialogue Conference in March 2015, the works councils of all Bertelsmann companies in Germany jointly discussed various key topics. In addition, the German corporate representatives for disabled employees held their annual meeting to exchange experiences. The key topic of health, which was presented at these events, was addressed in depth in ongoing discussions between the Corporate Works Council and the Bertelsmann Executive Board throughout the year and supplemented by specific measures. For example, comprehensive minimum standards on the topic of health were agreed upon at Bertelsmann.

Bertelsmann has been one of the pioneers in profit sharing since 1970. Thus, a total of €85 million (previous year: €101 million) was distributed to employees worldwide in 2015 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 into line with the social and ecological interests within the Group as part of a dialogue with all relevant stakeholders.

In March 2015, there was a meeting of the Bertelsmann Corporate Responsibility Council, which promotes interdivisional exchange on CR topics and helps to address these topics within the divisions. In its work in 2015, the Council focused on the strategic development of key CR topics.

2015 also saw the publication of Bertelsmann’s fourth annual carbon footprint report. This report is based on a global collection of environmental data from Group companies that together represent around 82 percent of Group employees and 73 percent of Group revenues. Bertelsmann has managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent compared to the previous data collection for 2012. This reduction is mainly attributable to printing operations that were sold but also to the increasing digitization of the businesses and improvements in energy efficiency.

The fifth international Bertelsmann “be green Day” also took place in 2015, an initiative focusing on increasing employees’ awareness of environmental issues and improving the environmental performance at individual locations. In 2015, around 60 Bertelsmann company locations took part.


Businesses invest in research on 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 is 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 factors of Bertelsmann’s innovation management include continuously following cross-industry trends and observing new markets. At 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.

RTL Group’s innovation management is 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. In 2015, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland formed a partnership with NBC Universal and TF1 for the co-production of US-style TV series with procedurals. RTL Group also expanded its position in the aggregation and monetization of online videos and invested in the US startups Clypd, which develops technologies for programmatic advertising sales in linear TV, and VideoAmp, which develops new marketing solutions for cross-device data analysis. Fremantle Media established digital studios and produced original online video content, e.g., for StyleHaul or individual YouTube channels such as Buzzr. Synergy Committees are used for exchanging information and knowledge within RTL Group.

The world’s largest trade publisher Penguin Random House benefits from its scale and reach as well as from the creative and innovative potential of its publishing and sales teams which together manage over 15,000 new titles per year. In digital, the company is introducing new applications, enhanced e-books and so-called verticals to bring together communities of readers around shared interests. One such vertical which has already been launched successfully in the United States is the book recommendation platform Brightly, which can help parents to instill a lifelong interest in reading in their children. Likewise in the United States, the company increased the number of e‑mail subscribers to its book and author newsletter by 43 percent compared to 2014. The aim of these and other activities is to establish a direct link to the readers.

In 2015, Gruner + Jahr made rapid progress with its print offensive and launched a total of eight new magazines and five special publications. In addition, seven titles within the G+J portfolio underwent a comprehensive relaunch. G+J also invested in its digital businesses and further expanded its portfolio with acquisitions such as the German e-commerce provider for gift ideas Danato and the food platform Delinero, as well as the careers portal Employour in conjunction with Medienfabrik, which moved from Arvato to Gruner + Jahr on January 1, 2016. In June 2015, G+J became the exclusive partner of the Dutch online kiosk provider Blendle in Germany. Gruner + Jahr is launching an innovation lab called Greenhouse, which will quickly examine the feasibility and prospects for success of business ideas. Gruner + Jahr also provided a total of €50 million of investment funds and media services for early investment in innovative digital companies.

In the financial year 2015, there was an organizational restructuring of Arvato under a new leadership structure. In this new structure, the responsibility for the development and marketing of innovative service solutions in the Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, Financial Solutions, Digital Marketing and IT Solutions segments lies with the individual Arvato business units. Arvato is increasing its innovative power by developing innovative solutions and technologies, acquiring innovative technology providers and service companies, and increasing cooperation with research institutes and innovation partners.

The innovations at Be Printers relate primarily to technology optimization and product innovations. A range of measures were introduced to achieve greater energy efficiency, for example improving the exhaust air systems at Prinovis. One example of product innovation is a project for Sony in the United States. It is part of a new, multi-year contract which was signed in 2015. Under this contract, US printing companies also produced covers and components for vinyl records and CDs, thus developing another new segment outside traditional book printing.