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Everything we create - ideas, stories, newspapers, images, books, websites - is only as good as our people's minds and imaginations. Our goal is to be the best company to work for in the world so that, though all our people could leave tomorrow, they choose to stay. Our first step is to provide benefits, profit share plans, development programmes and a culture that rivals anywhere else.

2004 employee survey

In 2004 we conducted our bi-annual employee survey which went to 9,000 employees right across Pearson. As in previous years, we have analysed the results and used them to shape our action plan for the year. We scored strongly in areas such as benefits, ethics, working conditions and diversity, but less strongly in others such as promotions and creating a stress-free environment so we are focusing our attention on improvement in these areas.

Developing talent across Pearson

We're not unusual in making talent development a top priority but, given the nature of our business, it's especially important.

  • Performance Reviews and Career Discussions: Our goal is that each Pearson employee has a formal performance review at least once a year. Based on employee feedback, we have also introduced informal career discussions - an opportunity for an individual to talk openly with their manager about their future and career aspirations. The approach depends from business to business and, in some cases, will take the form of career development workshops where employees have the chance to step back from their daily responsibilities to explore their interests and motivations.
  • Mentoring: We run informal and formal mentoring programmes across Pearson. While we encourage line managers to provide regular feedback, we recognise that additional guidance can be valuable, especially as people look to gain new skills or move around the company. These mentoring relationships typically last for 12 months and often continue beyond that. We ask mentors and their mentees to report back on their progress through the year. Where we don't run a formal programme, we set up mentoring on an ad hoc basis, carefully choosing the mentor for their knowledge and skill-base as well as their commitment. We try where possible to mix people from different operating companies or different functional areas.
  • Training: Each operating company offers a range of training to suit the needs of its people locally. Whether it's an in-house or public programme, we ensure that we select training for the specific needs of the business to build the right kinds of skills. Where it makes sense, we combine training so that companies located close to each other can share resources and ideas as well as promote best practice.
  • Functional Forums: Over 350 of our people have come together cross-company and cross-region in functional or learning forums to share information and ideas and best practice. These forums have been held in finance, HR, IT, design, marketing, communications and editorial. These events have led to a number of collaborative projects - such as tackling new markets and products as well as finding cost efficiencies.
  • Inspire: this year we have introduced a new management training event, Inspire, which we are running for around 1,500 of our key managers across Pearson. The aim is to help managers develop a core set of leadership skills exploring areas such as what makes a great boss; getting more out of talent; inspiring others; and how to make a difference as a leader. During 2005 over 1,000 of our leaders will take part in an Inspire event.

Management development

While we aim to nurture the career of every single one of our 33,000 employees, we also focus on the leaders of today and the future leaders of tomorrow. As well as the Pearson-wide programmes outlined below, each operating company runs its own management development programme for middle and senior managers.

  • Senior leadership profile and training: We have developed the Pearson leadership profile which sets out the most important attributes for leadership within Pearson. At its centre lie our values of bravery, imagination and decency. The profile forms the basis of our Senior Leadership Master Classes, a series of two and three day classes covering leadership and business strategy. Over 70% of our senior managers from around the world have so far taken part.
  • Brighton meetings: once a year we gather our top 100 managers to think about the world inside and outside the company and how we can make both better. We have been holding these meetings for eight years now and it has created a cohesive management team. This group has very low turnover (less than 2%) and over 14% have worked in more than one Pearson business or function.
  • Managing talent: Each year we work with our operating companies to do a formal review of talent across Pearson. We do this to ensure that we have the right people in our top jobs as well as the right people coming through the business. We monitor the development of our leaders and give them the opportunity to move around the business. We have an intranet dedicated to internal vacancies that employees can access to look for opportunities within the business.

Our values and culture

We want Pearson to be a company that is brave, imaginative and decent. Our Code of Business Conduct spells out our basic standards for conduct in Pearson and what we expect of anyone connected with our company. The code can be read at

When we re-launched the code two years ago, we made a promise to contact every Pearson employee each year to see how we're performing. This is over and above what we're expected to do by corporate governance rules because there's no point in having a code unless it has the trust and confidence of every one of our employees. And if it doesn't, then we need to know why so we can do something about it. In 2004 and 2005 our chief executive, Marjorie Scardino, e-mailed employees to confirm they are happy with the way we are operating. Employees were invited to report any concerns or breaches of the code to our group control team or via our confidential ethical helplines.


We recognise that reward is more than just a salary. In addition to competitive pay, we aim to offer each Pearson employee a comprehensive and flexible benefit package including healthcare, retirement plans, company stock options and life insurance. While packages are defined locally, we follow a set of principles globally. These include recognition for excellent performance and innovation; encouraging share ownership irrespective of level; and fair treatment of all employees taking into account work-life balance. We've worked hard to make our benefits easier to understand. Employees can now go online to check their personal details at our My Pay and Benefits site.

Internal communications

We have a dedicated internal communications programme. This is a two-way process: we want all of our 33,000 employees to know the latest Pearson news but we also want to hear their ideas. We run a series of staff roadshows through the year where members of our management team visit local offices. In 2005 we will run these in around 50 locations. We post regular news through our new online newsletter, @Pearson, and on our intranet site. Marjorie e-mails all employees with important news and encourages them to e-mail her direct with their thoughts.

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