Responsible business

Our overall approach to Corporate Responsibility is to ensure the impact that our business operations have on the communities and environments in which we operate is positive and considered.

This philosophy of embedding corporate responsibility opportunities and risk management into day-to-day business operations provides a sustainable way of making progress.

Our Corporate Responsibility operating model consists of delivery embedded in our brand teams, oversight from a central Corporate Responsibility function, and Board level governance.

This enables us to align our own priorities and expectations with those of our shareholders, customers and colleagues, across a range of sectors and regions.

Supporting our charity partners

In 2022, we maintained our partnership with The Prince’s Trust for the tenth year running. This year's Million Makers fundraising group Team Legacy raised over £480,000, winning the competition.

Our brands also developed charitable partnerships at a local level that aligned with their brand values and colleague interests. This saw a wide range of organisations being supported in several ways, from charitable donations, to volunteering and skills sharing.

Goals4Girls is an award-winning development programme, raising the aspirations of young women and girls, through football and education. Founded by Francesca Brown through the support of The Prince’s Trust, we have agreed a three year sponsorship agreement with both Francesca and Goals4Girls, to ensure the work we started through The Prince’s Trust becomes sustainable long term.

We ensured that our colleagues affected by the Ukraine war had the support they needed. In addition we donated £100,000, split across the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency), UNICEF and British Red Cross to support refugees. LIONS welcomed creatives from Ukraine to Cannes Lions free of charge, and refunded award submissions for agencies from Ukraine.

  • Flywheel Digital continued its partnership with Next One Up (NOU), a long-term mentoring non-profit that transforms the lives of young men in Baltimore City by supporting their development, with programming starting in middle school.
  • They have recruited a growing number of NOU alumni and have partnered on events that directly support the learning and long-term development of their students.
  • WhyteSpyder donated $75,000 to charities supporting child safety, healthcare, and women’s rights. Their involvement with these charities went beyond fundraising, with employees volunteering and promoting the events through official channels.

  • LIONS donated the profits from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Lion to a range of charities and not-for-profit organisations who had entered and won an SDG Lion. As part of their entry criteria, entrants for this award have to demonstrate how they have advanced or contributed to the SDG 2030 goals.
  • In addition, the Glass Lion award raised €52,000 for charities supporting gender equality.

Promoting equality

Ascential is passionate about promoting equality across our industry and beyond. Learn more about the work we’re doing to drive diversity and equality below.

In 2020 we launched a company wide Diversity and Inclusion vision.

For Ascential, diversity is core to us. Our value as an employer and to our customers is greater when we draw on the full range of our collective perspectives and experiences.

We continue to be committed to attract, retain, develop and engage a diverse workforce, and we will work constantly to ensure that everyone at Ascential feels comfortable to be themselves. This is the right thing to do to ensure a sustainable future for our organisation, and to make a positive impact for our people, customers, and society.

Our work in this area is supported by three headline commitments:

  • To employees: We will co-create an inclusive culture with equitable systems throughout our workforce, so that people are comfortable in bringing their authentic selves to Ascential, to thrive, and progress their career.
  • To customers: We will deliver the ideas, perspectives and cultural richness that our customers – and their customers – need to future-proof their products and services.
  • To society: We will play our part in imagining and developing a brighter, more equal society, starting with our own company and the industries we work in. We will report openly and regularly on our progress to enable others to learn from us and hold us to account.

  • Paul Harrison is the Executive Director with responsibility to the Board for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters, while Tracey Gray, our Chief People Officer, remains the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) sponsor at Executive level.
  • In 2022, our Digital Commerce division established a DEI committee with representatives from each of their brands, who together are taking the lead on strategy and activity in this important area. They report their progress into the Digital Commerce Executive Committee.
  • In the Ascential Intelligence and Events division, the DEI committees operate at an individual brand level.
  • We now have five growing Employee Resource Networks across Ascential: Ascential Pride, Black in Business, EmPower: Ascential Women’s Network, Latinx Ascential, and Shalom Ascential. Each network has been formalised with their own governance structure and Executive Sponsor.
  • In August 2020, we ran our first Diversity Data Survey which was completed by 83% of our colleagues. In January 2021, we published the results of that survey alongside our new Diversity and Inclusion vision and commitments in our first Diversity and Inclusion Report, which you can read here.
  • We have subsequently published two annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Reports which set out the priorities and actions for the year as we work towards our 2030 commitments. You can read the 2022 report here and the 2023 report here
  • We voluntarily publish our Gender Pay Gap report, with data from the past two years and an action plan of how we're closing the gap. You can read the 2022 report here and the 2023 report here.

Our brands have tailored their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) support to what’s right for their teams and their customers, enabling local activity that makes a tangible difference. These activities have been tailored to be culturally- and industry-specific. They include:

  • WGSN’s Future Makers programme, an external mentoring programme for diverse talent.
  • Money20/20’s ‘Do Better’ pledge to diversify their industry. Find out more here.
  • At the Cannes Lions Festival in June 2022, DEI remained a core content pillar, ensuring it was a key theme running throughout the event. LIONS continued its partnership with Black Executive CMO Alliance (BECA) to support the next generation of Black marketing leaders. In conjunction with The BECA Playbook, the alliance sponsored eight Future Leaders to attend the Cannes Lions Festival. It was the first time BECA took to the global stage at Cannes Lions, leading discussions on the role of Black marketers in disrupting the marketplace, diversifying brand storytelling, and creating a pipeline for Black marketing leaders.
  • In 2020, WARC and LIONS, along with the Association of National Advertisers Educational Foundation (AEF) and the 4A’s Foundation, teamed up to bring industry knowledge to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) by offering access to WARC and LIONS' The Work to students for free. This equates to a US$1 million annual commitment, no strings attached and in perpetuity.
  • At an Ascential level, we conduct bi-annual Inclusive Representation Content Audits across all of our brands. As a result our Content and Marketing teams have implemented action plans to ensure that their content represents the diversity of the communities we serve. Through the audits we assess the perceived gender and race and ethnicity of all quoted individuals, contributors and imagery used.


We're committed to ensuring the impact that our business operations have on the communities and environments we operate in is positive and considered. Learn more about the work we're doing to achieve this in our Sustainability Report and in the highlights below.

For the second year we have included ‘Task force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) aligned disclosures in our Annual Report. More information on our activities relating to Climate Change, carbon emissions and waste is included in the statement on pages 73 to 83 of our Annual Report.

In 2021, we launched our initial set of Climate Change KPIs. Over 75% of these KPIs were achieved throughout 2022, with the remainder deferred to 2023 to enable data-driven insight into setting reduction targets. We began measuring carbon emissions and waste baseline data across key material areas, to enable reduction targets to be set in 2023. You can view our Climate Change targets on page 78-80 of our Annual Report.

  • In 2022, WARC partnered with LIONS and the UK’s Advertising Association to launch the WARC Sustainability Hub. The Sustainability Hub helps marketers understand and solve the challenges of sustainability, including net zero. It features resources from Ad Net Zero, a UK industry-wide initiative led by the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA, with the goal of reducing the marketing industry’s carbon impact.
  • Sustainability remains a strategic imperative within WGSN, with KPIs set on content creation, internal training and developing client offers to incorporate sustainability.

The 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was the most sustainable yet. This included a focus on sustainable operations, and on putting sustainability as a core pillar across the festival’s content. You can read more about their approach in the case study on page 93 of our Annual Report

Operating responsibly

Our suppliers, partners and other third parties involved in the provision of goods or services are important to us. They underpin our ability to serve our customers and while delivering our valued and trusted products it is important to us that we and our suppliers do business responsibly, ethically and lawfully.

Third party code of conduct

We have implemented a Third Party Code of Conduct which outlines our ethical approach to doing business and explains the standards we strive to ensure that all our suppliers should abide by, and we also expect our suppliers’ suppliers to adhere to it. The main principles of this Code are:

There is no forced, involuntary or debt bonded labour in any form including slavery or trafficking of persons. There are no workers under the age of 15, or where it is higher, the mandatory school leaving age in the local country. The use of legitimate workplace apprenticeship programmes, which comply with all laws and regulations, is supported.

Workers, without distinction, have the right to associate freely, join or not join labour unions, seek representation and join workers’ councils as well as the right of collective bargaining in accordance with local laws.

There is equality of opportunity and treatment regardless of physical attributes or condition (including pregnancy), gender, religion (or absence of such beliefs), political opinion, nationality, sexual orientation, age or ethnic background. Equal pay for work of equal value is supported. Discrimination or intimidation towards and between employees is opposed, including all forms or threats of physical and psychological abuse.

There is no tolerance of any form of corruption, bribery, fraud, tax evasion, extortion or embezzlement and business is conducted in a manner that avoids conflicts of interest.

Fair business, advertising and competition is supported.

There is respect for and protection of intellectual property rights, data and confidential information to safeguard it against and prohibit loss and unauthorised use, disclosure, alteration or access. Our intellectual property and confidential information is handled and data processed on our behalf only for the purposes for which it was made available, received or collected in accordance with the reasonable directions provided by us.

Any disruptions of business are prepared for (including but not limited to natural disasters, terrorism or cyber attacks). Risks are frequently assessed and appropriate controls put in place and regularly tested.

All required quality, health, safety and environment related permits, licences and registrations are obtained, maintained and kept up-to-date and their operational and reporting requirements are followed. Proper provision is made for the health, safety and welfare of employees, visitors, contractors, the community and the environment. Health, safety and environmental risks are regularly assessed and appropriate controls are put in place bearing in mind the prevailing knowledge of the industry and of any specific hazards.

We require adherence to all applicable environmental laws and regulations, to appropriately mitigate climate change risk. We assess environmental impact in our supply chain with respect to any or all of the following: carbon emissions, energy consumption, travel, water consumption, single use plastics, paper usage and operational waste.  Our expectation is that our suppliers and supply chain cooperate and contribute to reducing the environmental impact of their products and services.


The Ascential Code

The Ascential Code is the overview of our key compliance commitments, which sets out our expectations in terms of ethical and lawful conduct for our people, and our external partners. It serves as an essential guide, setting out our standards and expectations as a business, and signposting the people who are available to help should questions arise.

You can view The Ascential Code here: English | Simplified Chinese | Brazilian Portuguese


Modern Slavery

Ascential recognises that slavery, forced labour and human trafficking (modern slavery) is a global issue. One that Ascential understands affects innocent lives. Ascential has a zero tolerance approach to modern slavery of any kind and has taken steps to eliminate it from its supply chain. Through this work, we have found support from customers, suppliers and Ascential employees to this zero tolerance approach. The Ascential community has no tolerance for modern slavery and has pledged to raise awareness and take steps to source suppliers responsibly.

You can view our full Modern Slavery statement here.



We have a formal anti-corruption policy which is communicated to all employees that prohibits offering, promising or giving a bribe; requesting, agreeing to receive, or accepting a bribe; and bribing a foreign public official to obtain or retain business or a business-related advantage.

The policy includes details of how employees can report any suspected violations of the policy confidentially to the Ethics Helpline, Protect, and assurances that concerns raised in good faith will not be criticised or penalised in any way. The Board has appointed the Audit Committee to review the implementation of this policy and the Audit Committee periodically monitors and audits compliance.

There were no reported breaches of the Bribery Act during 2022.

We also require our suppliers to adopt a zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption through our Third Party Code of Conduct.


Whistleblowing policy

We have a formal whistleblowing policy which encourages all staff to report suspected wrongdoing, in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and investigated appropriately, and that their confidentiality will be respected. Wrongdoing includes failure to comply with legal obligations or regulations, including bribery and corruption. The policy also aims to reassure staff that they should be able to raise genuine concerns without fear of reprisals, even if they turn out to be mistaken. We provide details of a confidential helpline operated by an independent third party, as well as contact details for the Independent Chairman of the Audit Committee within the policy.


Greenhouse gas emissions

Full details of our direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions are set out in our Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) disclosure on page 82 of our latest Annual Report.