Protecting and managing data
Experian’s success relies on our ability to protect and use vast amounts of data. Globally, we hold data on millions of consumers and businesses. The security and integrity of our data handling is an absolute priority. In a world where the amount of data generated and used by organisations and consumers is growing rapidly, this becomes ever more important. Our Global Information Values guide how we collect and use information.
Many of our records concern people’s finances and most countries strictly regulate individual privacy. We therefore have a comprehensive information security programme, which contains safeguards reflecting the sensitivity of the information. We continually assess our data security strategy, so we anticipate and mitigate new threats. This work is supported by our security policies, based on the ISO27002 international standards.
Every employee is responsible for data protection and we support and direct them through dedicated teams across the company. Employee training and awareness of information security remain a top priority. In 2013, we updated and designed a more user-friendly training package for all employees, entitled Security Fundamentals, rolling this out via employee training programmes and compliance monitoring.
We also need to be aware of future changes to the law and consumers’ attitudes to data protection and security. Our insight and stakeholder relationships mean we are ideally placed to stimulate debate and help evolve industry guidelines and new legislation. We work closely with regulators, trade associations, government departments and politicians, to ensure our views are considered. For example, in Europe we take a very active role, together with ACCIS (the Association of Consumer Credit Information Suppliers), financial services trade associations and other UK credit reference agencies, in making sure that the potential implications of new legislation for credit referencing, and for consumers, are understood and are appropriate.
We strongly advocate sharing positive data, which includes information about consumers with good credit histories and not just people who have defaulted on their loans. Sharing positive data generally leads to higher acceptance and lower default rates, and enables our credit bureaux to develop more innovative and valuable services, including fraud prevention solutions.
We always look to work with the industry to increase data sharing in new sectors and to maximise the value of data that is already available. As a founding member of the Business Information Providers Association in the UK, Experian has been prominent in lobbying for more extensive data sharing by business-to-business lenders, to improve small businesses’ access to credit.
Operating efficiently and minimising our impact on the environment
Our most significant environmental impact is from the energy our offices and data centres use, our business travel and the waste we generate. Our long-standing environmental programme, supported by Experian’s environmental champions in each region, helps us to monitor, manage and minimise these impacts.
As part of our commitment, we regularly communicate working practices that promote environmental management. Many of our sites are certified to, or follow the principles set out in the ISO14001 environmental standard. In March 2014, we completed the development of an innovative online training programme, which we can easily deliver to our people anywhere in the world. We are in the final stage of testing the tool, ready for roll out later in 2014. Online training will allow us to share best practice with more people than traditional training sessions.
We have a target to reduce our CO2e emissions by 5% per US$1,000 of sales by 2016, against a base year of 2012. During the last year, our global emissions from energy use and business travel have reduced from 14.8 to 14.6 kg CO2e per US$1,000 of sales. This equates to a 1.3% reduction and on track to achieve our target. We are pleased with the progress we have made to improve the efficiency of our business, maintaining our absolute emissions at a similar level to last year (71,000 tonnes), while our business has grown. A more detailed breakdown of our CO2e emissions can found on the 'Facts & figures' page.
Our energy use is largely governed by the power we need to run our global data centres. These centres are critical to our business and must be available for our clients and consumers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As our business grows, so does our need to use energy to process data. Finding ways to reduce and optimise our consumption is an important part of our environmental programme. This focus has helped us reduce energy use at the data centres we own in the UK and the US this year by 4.5%, saving 1.6 million kWh. As we reduce energy use, we also reduce our indirect CO2e emissions and operating costs.
In September 2013, we installed ‘ecocooling’ equipment at one of our major data centres in the UK. This system draws air from the outside, filters it and uses it to chill our servers, reducing the energy needed for cooling. As a result of this and other initiatives, our UK data centre reduced its energy use by 11% since the start of the project. At our North American data centre in Texas, the climate is too warm for eco-cooling technology, so we are trialling solar panels to generate our own renewable energy. Our other energy-efficiency initiatives during the latest year included investing in cold aisle containment for our server rooms, retro-fitting lights with LEDs, and installing new smart monitor software, which maps air flows and temperatures around our servers.
We have also looked to reduce our emissions in other parts of the business, for example by installing 31 videoconferencing facilities globally to encourage virtual meetings rather than business travel.
Each year, we contribute to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a UK initiative that encourages companies to disclose their approach to managing climate change and to publicly share emissions data. In 2013, we achieved a score of 82%, our highest-ever score, and a 17 point increase since 2012.
In the UK and Ireland, we have improved our procedures to divert even more waste from landfill. Now non-recyclable waste from our Nottingham, London and Bradford sites is dried and baled, then burned under controlled conditions in an energy-from-waste plant. The heat from this can then be used in industrial or district heating schemes. As a result, more than 90% of our UK waste is now diverted from landfill, and we aim to increase this to 95% in 2014.
Harnessing the talent and skills of our employees
Our global people strategy is to deliver growth by creating a great place for our 16,000 employees to work. To achieve this, the strategy focuses on two key areas: culture and engagement, and talent. We are now two years into our Heart of Experian cultural initiative, which aims to transform Experian into one of the world’s best places to work. Our last global people survey, in May 2013, achieved our highest-ever participation at 89%, ensuring the results properly reflect our employees’ views. When asked: “What difference is the Heart of Experian making for our business and our people?” 86% responded positively.
CO2e from buildings by region (000s tonnes)
Total CO2e emissions by region (000s tonnes)
As part of building a culture of engagement and innovation, we asked our people how Experian could make a greater contribution to society. We selected six great ideas from the many sent in by enthusiastic employees. Those six contributors became Social Responsibility Ambassadors and regional champions for the Heart of Experian Social Responsibility Programme, giving them an opportunity to put their ideas into action. They also represented Experian at the One Young World conference in South Africa, joining 1,300 delegates from 190 countries for four days of sharing ideas on social and economic issues. As a testament to this successful initiative, these Ambassadors will mentor a new cohort recruited in 2014.
Another example of encouraging innovation is the Si Ramo Prize. Simon “Si” Ramo is an American physicist, engineer and business leader, whose innovations contributed directly to Experian’s business development. We will award the prize each year to an individual or small team that applies superior scientific skill to further our commercial success in data and analytics.
Our talent strategy helps us to attract, grow and retain a deep pool of talented employees, who reflect our global reach and our belief in the value of diversity. It focuses on developing the talent of every employee, so we can deliver our performance goals. Over the last year, we launched our People Standard and Leadership Standard as well as Performance for Growth, our globally consistent performance management process. These standards clearly lay out the capabilities and behaviours we expect from our employees and leaders.
To ensure we have the right capabilities and to develop the strength and depth of our talent pipeline, we have also started a global process of strategic workforce planning. This will identify and address the critical gaps between our current resources and those we will need to achieve our strategic goals.
Our most recent succession planning review showed that 96% of our senior leadership roles have successors who can provide emergency cover (2013: 93%) and 55% have one or more candidates to be permanent successors in the short term (2013: 52%).
We also recognise the importance of diversity and inclusion. Experian has to access the broadest range of talent, so we can innovate and meet the needs of our increasingly diverse clients and consumers around the world. Of our global employee base, 45% are female and 55% are male. Around 29% class themselves as white and 12% as nonwhite. The remaining 59% are not classified, either because local legislation does not allow us to ask or because employees chose not to tell us.
We are working to increase the diversity of our senior leadership team to better reflect our client, consumer and employee bases. Our regional diversity and inclusion plans commit us to deliver diverse candidate shortlists to ensure applications have been sourced from the widest possible candidate pool. Currently, 22% of our senior leaders are female and 10% are non-white, while 31% of Experian plc Board members are female.
Most of our work is office based and has a low health and safety risk. Even so, we take health and safety extremely seriously. Over the last year we recorded 79 accidents at work, a decrease of 25% from the previous year. This was partly attributable to a change in how we record accidents in Latin America, now excluding commuting accidents, bringing its data criteria in line with other regions. We have reviewed our policy and reaffirmed our commitment to safety and wellbeing, with a particular focus on the parts of our business operating in countries which may not have specific legal health and safety requirements.
More of our people are volunteering in their communities, so we have created a new document on risk assessment processes and guidance. We communicated the new policy to health and safety co-ordinators across our regions, through a series of training events.
We aim to create a healthy and positive working environment, so we have programmes promoting employee wellbeing. For example, since 2006 we have had a programme in Brazil to help improve employees’ quality of life, inside and outside work. This includes services such as health and nutrition, psychotherapy, speech and language therapy, and women’s health.