Supply chain responsibility

Our commitment

Nielsen’s commitment to good corporate citizenship and sustainability extends to our supply chain, managing the environmental, social, governance (ESG) and ethical impacts of our purchasing. We know that our spend is a powerful market force, which is why we work to manage it responsibly and sustainably.

As a global company, we have a unique and powerful platform to impact our world for the better.  Like the immense purchasing power of individual consumers, we know that our institutional spend of over $2 billion can be a demand signal in the marketplace. We intentionally leverage our spend to drive our business performance and to help:

Integrity and transparency

Improve the integrity and transparency of supply chains globally

Working conditions

Create fairer and more humane working conditions in factories overseas

Community businesses

Support diverse-owned and local businesses in our communities


Lighten the load on our planet’s resources

Business challenges

Bring innovative product options to the marketplace that can solve business challenges while addressing social and environmental challenges

Understanding our supply chain impacts

Managing our supply chain’s ESG impacts begins with an understanding of the effects, both positive and negative, of our purchasing. In 2016, the first year of our program, we conducted a supply chain sustainability analysis to identify and uncover major sustainability risks and opportunities in our supply chain and to create strategies that address them. As a result, we understand our major supply chain impacts to be as follows, and we are addressing them accordingly within our own function and across functions at Nielsen.

Environmental impact

Energy use/greenhouse gas emissions impact with the technology and travel segments of our supply chain.

Social impact

Human rights risk with the contract manufacturing segment of our supply chain.

Governance/ethical impact

Data privacy and security risks with the advertising and market research segment of our supply chain.

Decreasing negative impacts

Segments of our supply chain can pose particular risks to our social and ethical standards due to their industry and geographic location.

Human Rights in Nielsen’s Supply Chain – The greatest human rights risk in the Nielsen supply chain is with our contract electronics manufacturers. Through our social compliance program, we work with the Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in this area to assess and engage them on their human rights practices, particularly trafficking and modern slavery. Our UK Modern Slavery statement describes our efforts to mitigate the risk of modern slavery and forced labor in our supply chain.

Conflict Minerals – Nielsen is exposed to issues relating to the extraction and use of conflict minerals which may be used to finance militia operations or as a means to utilize forced labor. These minerals—Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten, and Gold or 3TG—are common components in electronics manufacture, and as such, Nielsen is exposed to the risk of sourcing conflict minerals. To mitigate this risk, Nielsen is a member of the Responsible Minerals Initiative, the primary multi-stakeholder collaboration addressing ethical raw mineral sourcing. We also conduct due diligence and publicly report on the smelters in our supply chain in our Conflict Minerals disclosure according to the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.   

Increasing positive impacts

As a professional services organization, indirect spend accounts for the majority of our supply chain impacts. We have identified numerous ways to increase the positive impacts of that spend.

Supplier Diversity – Our Supplier Diversity efforts to integrate supplier diversity into upcoming bids and contracts and to create a supply chain reflective of our company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing – Wherever possible, our global Sourcing organization identifies options at the product/service level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, and reduce waste. Learn more about our policy.

Impact Sourcing – Nielsen is a founding member of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition, a coalition of multinational corporations and suppliers committed to employing corporate procurement as an innovative means to address global poverty and economic inclusion.  

Multi-stakeholder Collaborations – To create industry change and impact beyond our own supply chain, we’ve joined our efforts and our purchasing power with like-minded corporate peers as described further below.

Education and Awareness-Raising – We understand that the cumulative purchasing decisions of institutional buyers make change happen and that training and resources enable and empower those decisions. Nielsen provides education and awareness-raising efforts internally and externally to increase the awareness and practice of sustainable purchasing. We also have institutional links with DePaul University and the Illinois Institute of Technology for project-based, graduate-level internships to develop future supply chain sustainability professionals.

Our approach

Our approach is simple: We manage our supply chain and purchasing decisions to increase our positive environmental, social and governance/ethical impacts while decreasing our negative impacts.

Policies and business processes

Our procurement and contracting processes include ESG criteria. We require suppliers to demonstrate similar commitments by providing company-level information related to sustainability throughout their tenure servicing Nielsen.

Procurement practices – We specifically solicit sustainability information during supplier registration and the RFP process; this information is included as selection criteria along with our other requirements for quality, delivery, service and cost. Additionally, we use a formal, principle-based Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy to guide purchasing decisions at the product/service level.

Contractual requirements – Since January 2015, our standard contract terms obligate suppliers to abide by the Nielsen Supplier Code of Conduct. In 2016, we updated our Supplier Code based on a widely used industry standard, the Responsible Business Alliance. The code addresses the following areas: Labor (specifically Human Rights), Health and Safety, Environmental Management, Ethics, and Management Systems.

Supplier engagement

We engage with our key suppliers multiple times a year with a focus on ESG issues.

Measurement and Disclosure – Once a key supplier enters our supply chain, we require a standardized supplier assessment on ESG performance (provided by a third party) which benchmarks our suppliers according to their industry, size and country/countries of operation, along with ESG updates during regular business reviews. The assessments and regular business reviews serve as catalysts for meaningful supplier engagement.

Continuous Improvement – Through meaningful supplier engagement, we ensure visibility into ESG risks and opportunities and drive higher standards. Our sourcing managers engage with our suppliers with the goal of quantitatively improving sustainability performance at both the supplier and product/service level.

Capacity Building – We’ve developed a Supplier Toolkit as a resource for our suppliers to improve their sustainability performance. The Supplier Toolkit includes guidance for developing social, ethical, and environmental policies, practices and reporting. Additionally, the toolkit includes a comprehensive list of 150 performance indicators that suppliers can use to track ESG performance.

Multi-stakeholder collaborations

We understand the challenges faced in responsible sourcing are far-reaching and best addressed in multi-stakeholder collaborations with other corporations and brands, non-profit organizations  and academia, the investor community and suppliers.

In 2016, we joined the following leadership organizations in sustainable purchasing: the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council; the Responsible Business Alliance; the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition; the Responsible Minerals Initiative; and the Technical Advisory Group/Mirror Committee to the ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement Standard. Through these associations, Nielsen is not just aligning with global best practices, but helping shape them. 

For more in-depth information about our program, please see our Supply Chain Sustainability 2019 Report. If you are a supplier and want to help us do good in the world, submit your information on the Nielsen supplier registration page.