Responsibility & Sustainability

2016-2017 Materiality Assessment

Updated Responsibility & Sustainability Non-Financial Materiality Assessment Highlights Nielsen’s Responsibility to Its Stakeholders

In 2016 and 2017, we updated our non-financial materiality assessment, using the original findings from our first assessment conducted in 2014 and 2015 as a starting point. This new assessment follows the guidance provided by the Global Reporting Initiative’s new Standards, formally introduced in 2016. As part of our reporting process, we are also including an update on how we responded to stakeholder feedback from the previous assessment, along with an updated look at Nielsen’s strategic priorities and driving forces for the years ahead.

More information about our ongoing stakeholder engagement efforts and our global environmental, social and governance (ESG) approach can be found in our Nielsen Global Responsibility Report, published in May 2016. At Nielsen, we broadly define “corporate responsibility and sustainability” across the relevant ESG aspects of the company, including but not limited to, the impact of our efforts related to Global Responsibility & Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion, Human Capital Development, Supply Chain Sustainability and our overall business performance across all teams, geographies and functions.

As it was before, our intentions in opening up the non-financial materiality process to all stakeholders is to incorporate this feedback into our overall processes, business strategy, and corporate responsibility and sustainability programs. Beyond seeking to better understand how stakeholders view Nielsen today, we also used the feedback to identify potential risks and opportunities both generally and in terms of our ESG goals, and any emerging issues that could affect Nielsen’s business success and stakeholder relationships in the future. Good governance, trust, and a commitment to transparency came up as dominant themes throughout this process. Our willingness to seek inputs from all stakeholders is aligned with Nielsen’s overarching values of being open, connected, useful and personal. Our final list of material issues also led us to identify tangible goals which are introduced in this document. We define issues in this context as positive opportunities for continued growth.

One of the major issues that came up throughout all of our stakeholder interviews and research was the fundamental importance of trust and transparency to Nielsen’s business. Transparency is essential to maintaining the foundation of trust we have established with our clients and other stakeholders over the course of our 94-year history. This trust is rooted in our strong integrity, the soundness of our research methodologies, data and insights, and the high quality of our processes and quality assurance controls. We also recognize the value of transparency in our collaborations with strategic partners and clients across our business; it is critical that both trust and transparency are embedded throughout this collaborative approach to ensure that our values are never compromised in any way. In this way, trust and transparency are a key part of each of the issues included in this non-financial materiality assessment.

We heard from our stakeholders throughout this process that they want to continue to learn more about areas like Nielsen’s involvement with and use of new innovation, employee retention strategies, and environmental impact. Nielsen is committed to continuing our practice of open and ongoing stakeholder engagement and dialogue, including through these regular non-financial materiality assessments and future updates to our Nielsen Global Responsibility Report.

Nielsen plans to use feedback from this assessment and ongoing stakeholder engagement to ensure continued progress in these and other areas. We also plan to publish an updated Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)-aligned report in 2018.

Stakeholder Feedback

To determine the top material issues affecting our stakeholders, society, the environment, and Nielsen, the Nielsen Global Responsibility & Sustainability team collaborated with cross-functional groups across the business to solicit and review feedback from all of Nielsen’s key stakeholder groups, both directly and, in some cases, through proxies. These groups include but are not limited to: employees, investors, clients, industry trade groups, suppliers, strategic business partners, industry influencers, value-added resellers, regulators and policy influencers, and non-governmental and community organizations. We specifically sought out new internal and external perspectives to ensure input was appropriately balanced, and we also engaged stakeholders across a wide range of geographies. We reviewed stakeholder feedback through a variety of different forms, including but not limited to: existing documentation, web commentary, webinars, surveys, social and traditional media content, as well as through more than 40 in-depth virtual and in-person interviews and focus groups. While we seek to continuously engage stakeholders in a variety of ways, we made a concerted effort to engage stakeholders through this process to get focused feedback on our long-term strategy, goals, challenges, and opportunities.


We compiled and reviewed stakeholder feedback to extract key issues and topics, ranking the importance to Nielsen and noting business and societal impacts as part of the process.  We structured our analysis to align with GRI’s guidance to include societal and environmental impacts as a critical component in issue ranking. This approach is recognized through the dual axes included in the materiality matrix, noting Nielsen’s impact on society, the environment and stakeholders as well as each issue’s relative importance to stakeholders. Priority ranking was given to issues that Nielsen can take action to address based on our business’ core competencies and demonstrated strengths. More than 350 distinct topics were raised by stakeholders through this process; the top seven material issues in our matrix reflect a comprehensive compilation of these various areas.

We also reviewed the key issues that were raised in our 2014-2015 assessment to evaluate how progress has been made in the intervening years, and to identify where risks, challenges and opportunities still exist. Some of these issues remain on the 2016-2017 assessment but may have been redefined to reflect current circumstances and context; other issues may have dropped in position because their relative importance to stakeholders and society may have changed, or because of other developments (see “Update from 2014-2015 assessment” throughout for more information about our efforts to address these material issues from our 2014-2015 assessment).

Any issue on our matrix should be considered important to the company, regardless of its relative position on the matrix. In this updated assessment, we have transitioned from the twelve issues included in our 2014-2015 non-financial materiality assessment to the seven issues in our current non-financial materiality assessment. The issues that no longer appear exactly as they did in the 2014-2015 assessment are the following, in no particular order: Product and Service Responsibility, Business Ethics and Integrity, Transparency, Market Responsiveness and Proactivity, Company Integration, Public Policy, Data Use, and Responsible Growth & Supplier Accountability. All of these issues raised in our previous assessment have been integrated in some way into this updated 2016-2017 assessment in recognition of the natural connections across the new and updated areas included in this report.

Citizenship and Sustainability Materiality Matrix

Source: Feedback was solicited from source documentation and more than 200 internal and external stakeholders on a broad range of topics, including our company’s impact on the environment, society and the economy.

Top Issues Identified by the Non-Financial Materiality Assessment

Response to Key Stakeholder Issues Identified in 2014-2015 Non-Financial Materiality Assessment

After completing our 2014-2015 non-financial materiality assessment, we initiated actions to respond to stakeholder feedback. These areas also provided the foundation for our Nielsen Global Responsibility Report, published in 2016. Information about these relevant actions is included above for issues that were raised again in our 2016-2017 non-financial materiality assessment; information about relevant actions taken to address issues that were not raised again in this more recent assessment is included below.