Our people

Our business purpose is to help people get on in their lives through learning – or to be ‘always learning’. The use of ‘people’ in describing our business purpose is deliberate in that this applies as much to the people that work at Pearson as it does to the millions of people who benefit from our products and services.

Pearson has always been a business built on ideas and as such relies on the minds and creativity of our people. At the same time, Pearson is a business in transition. We are seeing rapid growth in:

  • Digital business. 29% of sales now come from digital up from 20% in 2006;
  • Emerging markets. Sales revenue from our businesses in Latin America, China, India, Africa and the Middle East has more than doubled to $834m in the last five years. 20% of our employees are now located in these markets in readiness for further growth;
  • Technology and services in education. We are changing from being a textbook publisher to a broad-based supplier of education technology and services as well as curriculum materials.

These changes are shaping how we think about the structure of our business and the types of people we employ.

People Graph

Our approach

  • Understanding the workforce of the future. As the shape of the business changes, so does our future skills needs.
  • People development. Making sure that we offer the right development opportunities for all our people.
  • Changing the shape of the organisation. As we internationalise and grow, so do opportunities to work differently and more efficiently. That means that some functions and roles which we currently have will no longer be needed, while new jobs and organisational structures will arise which we may not yet have considered.
  • Data and analytics. As we grow organically and by acquisition, we need to be able to understand how we are changing both through hard data and by reviewing what people tell us about how we are doing.

Workforce planning and developing our people

Our businesses need access to the right people with the right skills at the right time in the right place. This sounds relatively easy, but we operate globally in fast-changing, hard to predict, often digital-led markets. Effective scenario planning is critically important to our people strategy.

We need to be able to identify and fill skills gaps while also ensuring that all our people have the technical, personal, management and leadership skills they need to carry out their responsibilities. Each individual has at least an annual appraisal and development review with their manager to agree objectives for the coming year. We offer a diverse and comprehensive range of development opportunities around the world.

During the year we reviewed our programme to identify our future leaders. Each individual has a targeted development action plan to help them progress to more senior positions.

We know that one of the most powerful ways people can learn is from each other, so a priority for this year was to develop a new way for Pearson people to come together to share ideas, expertise and information and to collaborate. This initiative will be formally launched in 2011.

Organisational change

Working more efficiently can lead to a need to restructure and integrate teams, and to a reduction in roles.

Where possible, we aim to either offer redeployment to other areas of the business or reduce numbers through natural attrition. This is not always possible, so we offer voluntary severance or make less use of contractors where that is relevant. Compulsory redundancies are always a last resort.

Whatever changes we make, we do so in light of the company values to be brave, imaginative and decent. This means being open with our people about the changes we have to make, helping those affected to adjust and ensure that we are sensitive to the needs of each individual.

Getting the fundamentals right

People will always be our most valuable resource. How we support, manage and encourage the development of our people is fundamental to the success of the business and to achieving against our business strategy.

Above and beyond our priorities, there are some basic things that in common with most companies, we must get right. Our aim is that each and every person that is part of the Pearson family should:

  • feel valued and that their contribution to our success is recognised and fairly rewarded;
  • be able to shape the way they work around their personal circumstances through a flexible approach to their work-life balance;
  • have the right tools and skills;
  • have opportunities for learning and development and;
  • benefit from a safe and positive working environment that reflects the diversity of our colleagues.

Diversity and inclusion

Our aim is to be leading our industry for our approach to diversity and inclusion by building a workplace where differences and fairness are respected and valued. By strengthening our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we ensure we are recognised where we operate as an employer with a firm commitment to diversity and equality. One way we assess our progress is through external benchmarks:

Case study: Internships@Pearson –Diversity internships in the UK

The Pearson Diversity Summer Internship Programme – a paid eight or twelve week (journalism) placement – was recognised as a finalist in the 'Best Diversity within Work Experience Awards at the National Placement & Internship Awards 2011'.

  • Pearson was again named joint winner of the FTSE Executive Women Award by Opportunity Now;
  • Pearson in the US was named one of the top 100 employers by Working Mother magazine;
  • Similarly, the Human Rights Campaign, which campaigns for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens named Pearson as one of its top 100 employers.

We track our employee profile by country. The profile for our two largest countries by employment is:

    Minority   Women
2009 All Mgt All Mgt
UK 13% 10% 60% 62%
US 20% 12.6% 60% 50%
    Minority   Women
2010 All Mgt All Mgt
UK 14% 9% 60% 61%
US 20% 12.8% 59% 50%

Health, safety and wellbeing

The health and safety of our people is of overriding concern to us. We believe that good safety and health practices in the workplace are a basic building block of a responsible approach.

Pearson people work in offices, data and contact centres and in distribution centres. We adopt a risk-based approach to health and safety paying particular attention to facilities such as distribution centres with relatively higher risk of incidents. By understanding the risks of injury, we are better equipped to prevent them from occurring:

  • Our first site in the UK was accredited in 2009 against ISO 18001, the international health and safety management standard. Work continues for all businesses in the UK to be accredited against the standard;
  • Our US business has developed and piloted a comprehensive management system for injury prevention and employee protection.


  2011 plans
Developing our people Review our existing menu of learning and development opportunities; fill gaps and work to provide everyone with access to the training and education they need to improve their skills, train for new opportunities, develop as leaders and managers, and receive mentoring, professional certification and support to successfully progress.
Digital transformation Pilot an approach to mapping future digital skills needs across the businesses through intensive work with a key digital community
Collaboration and
Launch a digital space for Pearson people to come together to share ideas, expertise and information and to collaborate
Data and analytics Operating businesses track people metrics. We will review and extend our approach to data collection, management and reporting adopting common definitions where appropriate and relevant to do so
Diversity and inclusion Continue to rate our diversity progress through relevant external benchmarks
Health, safety and
Complete the process of accreditation against ISO 18001, the international health and safety management standard for all our businesses in the UK.  Introduce a new injury and illness prevention programme in the US