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Experian plc

Our CR strategy, together with a set of six key responsibilities and governance structure, were developed in 2007/8. The Experian Board reviews CR progress at every meeting and a CR section is published in the annual report. CR is also built into regional leadership objectives and is a regular element of internal announcements about the Group's overall performance.

The direction for the strategy and key decisions around project funding are made by a core CR management group that is representative of the regions and businesses across the Group. Local co-ordination is managed by a network of professionals alongside their normal roles.

Experian's consistent reporting of achievements against the CR strategy provides a clear picture of progress, but more detail about developments around the six responsibilities can be found in the 'Performance' section including details of our carbon footprint and diversity developments.

The CR strategy concentrates on three principal activities:

  • Embedding CR in everyday business
  • Focusing the community programme
  • Innovating for social benefit
 

The objectives for FY10 for these activities and the degree of achievement are summarised in the table shown here.

Strategy

Objective

Status

Comment

Embedding
CR in
everyday
business

By 2011, further embed
Social, Ethical and
Environmental (SEE) risks
in the risk process and
ensure each business unit
is addressing them in its risk
register
Achieved
  • Standard Experian risk category definitions enhanced to explicitly address sustainability issues and the longer term
  • All business and support units required to incorporate in risk registers and use in assessing new projects
Express SEE risks and
opportunities, challenges
and achievements more
explicitly and communicate
to all employees
Achieved
  • Internal communication strategy with quarterly focus
  • CR achievements included alongside financials in performance updates to all employees
  • Global communication forums include CR representatives
  • CR video, sponsored by CEO
Focusing the
community
programme
Evolve the community
focus to include community
sustainability
Partly
achieved
  • Increased focus on entrepreneurship in funding application criteria
  • Applications and awards made to projects focused on entrepreneurship
Spend at least 75% of
central community funds on
strategic focus of financial
education entrepreneurship
Achieved
  • Application criteria for projects reviewed and strengthened
  • Of US$794,000 available, 81% spent on projects with strategic focus
Innovating
for social
benefit
Build SEE opportunity
reviews into product
development processes in
at least one region
Partly
achieved
  • SEE reviews built into standard risk assessment processes for all new developments, including new products but specific product development processes not yet influenced
Continue to provide funding
for Big Ideas and publicise
programme internally
Achieved
  • Big Idea funding provided consistently over three years and showing impact
  • Programme publicised through general communications, but more specific communications needed
 

Embedding CR in everyday business

CR-related performance will accelerate once it becomes second nature for employees to consider the SEE needs of society in mainstream business decisions. In FY10, we concentrated on building CR into standard processes and creating a better understanding of what CR means to everyone across the Group. By communicating the natural linkages with the business strategy, it is easier to demonstrate the relevance of SEE considerations.

Building CR into processes

It was a year of significant improvement; all risk processes at Experian, from corporate to business unit level, now reference SEE considerations. Any new data source in the US business is assessed according to a set of fair information values and this process is being adopted across all geographies. A global code of conduct has been developed and is now being communicated and implemented, and we're running training programmes to ensure compliance with national legislation.

Experian takes into consideration every aspect of information security in our data centre management, and we invest heavily as we expand. This year our global information security team has been very active in raising employee awareness, training software developers and, as a result, reducing our risks and vulnerabilities. You can read more about our compliance and information security developments in our performance section.

Data centres are also acknowledged to make the biggest impact on our carbon-footprint. Energy savings in data centres have ensured this footprint has not increased despite a rise in capacity and data processed. See the 'Performance' section under 'Environment' for more details.

Another aspect of our business that has developed strongly this year, with social considerations at the front of mind, has been our relationship with the consumer. In the US the research findings of the consumer programme we established last year has led us to increase our focus on consumer education. Over 80% of central community programme resources are spent on providing education programmes to help the most vulnerable in our society. Our employees volunteer their own time to work in partnership with charities and non-governmental organisations to deliver such programmes. Also in the US, we have set up a new 'Consumer Council' to help us take on board consumer views and we are working with consumer champions and industry experts as we develop new products and improve our existing offer.

Better understanding

Improvements in regular internal communications, through magazines, intranets, meetings, blogs and webcasts are helping raise employee awareness. A university study led by an MBA student gave a thought-provoking insight into the level of awareness in the UK audience, which fuelled a programme to raise the visibility of CR. This programme was sponsored by CEO Don Robert, whose video introduction demonstrates his personal commitment to improving awareness.

Innovating for social benefit

Experian has a unique set of skills and resources. Applying these skills to create a product or service that solves a social problem is probably the best way the Group can make a positive social impact. Seed funding is provided to support the exploration and early development of products or services. Termed 'Big Ideas', these relatively small amounts are invested to encourage big thinking across a broad spectrum of social issues.

The first project reported under this programme has now led to a proposal for a mainstream business development in microfinance. The original funding supported a period of development, working with the World Bank, to examine how Experian's products and services could make the process of micro lending more efficient and ultimately make loans cheaper for the disadvantaged. Read more in the 'Microfinance' case study.

A subsequent investment is supporting the development of a product enabling organisations to understand the ethnic diversity of their workforces and then create positive actions to create a better balance.

Focusing the community programme

Central funds are set aside to support the regional community programmes. To make sure these funds have the most impact, Experian has developed a focus on financial education and entrepreneurship. In the last year, the target was to spend at least 75% of the allocated $794,000 on this focus. In fact, 81% of the budget was devoted to the strategic focus, through a range of projects across Experian's regions. A major financial education project in the US is reaching out specifically to minority and underserved communities. In Brazil, a project involves Experian's own employees in coaching community leaders, parents and teachers in financial awareness. Experian Denmark has set up a partnership with the Danish Tax office, targeted at supporting vulnerable young people as they leave home for the first time. In the UK, Experian is focusing on even younger people, reaching them before debt becomes an issue, and is working with a national charity. The Asia Pacific business identified suitable strategic projects for the first time in 2010 and Experian Singapore is beginning work on a project to support communities in Mongolia and Cambodia.

Community investment

2010  
US$'000  
2009
US$'000
Funds from Experian plc 1,001   937
Financial donations from Experian subsidiaries 932   1,012
Employee time volunteered 595   353
Gifts in kind 343   222
Management costs 179   185
Total from Experian 3,050   2,709
As % of Benchmark PBT* 0.34%   0.32%
     
Employee fundraising 679   466
GUS Charitable Trust donations 602   423
Total value of all giving 4,331   3,598
As % of Benchmark PBT* 0.48%   0.43%
* Benchmark profit before tax ('Benchmark PBT')
Benchmark PBT is defined as profit before amortisation of acquisition intangibles, goodwill impairments, charges in respect of the demerger-related equity incentive plans, exceptional items, financing fair value remeasurements, tax and discontinued operations. It includes the Group's share of associates' pre-tax profit.
 

In addition to this focused approach, Experian contributed to the disaster relief funds following the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. Employees led the way, giving very generously, and the business matched their donations and gave additional funds. A total of US$150,000 was given following each of the disasters, largely to the Red Cross, but also to organisations that were local to Experian's operations in Santiago.

The table above gives the full picture of Experian's community investment, including employee giving and fundraising. There was a significant rise in employee volunteering and employee fundraising during the year. Volunteering has now been built into leadership development programmes in the UK and a description of the the 'Inspire' programme and linked video is available in the case studies. We are also recording volunteering activity in EMEA, including South Africa, for the first time in this year's report.