Recognising our impact as a business

Huntsworth recognises the impact of its business operations on a diverse range of stakeholders, including our employees and the wider community. We are committed to monitoring all of our environmental, social and governance aims.
Huntsworth is committed to the highest standards of integrity and honesty and expects all employees to maintain the same standards in everything they do at work. We recognise that open and honest communication is essential to maintain our values and to ensure that any instances of business malpractice are detected and dealt with. As well as complying with all applicable laws and respecting internationally recognised human rights standards in every location in which we operate, we aim to make a positive contribution to human rights through our choice of suppliers and our own HR policies and practices.

To view our ESG reports, please go to Page 20 in the 2020 Annual Report and Page 30 of our 2019 Annual Report.


The Group recognises its responsibilities to conserve resources and is committed to continuous monitoring of and improvement in the environmental impact of its operations. Due to the nature of our businesses, the Group does not have a high environmental impact. Our principal impact arises from energy, paper and water consumption.

Greenhouse gas emissions

We annually measure and report on our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our global operations. The Group measures GHG emissions based on financial control boundaries, so that all operations which are consolidated as subsidiaries in the Group’s financial statements are included in the measurement exercise.

We have identified the following key activities as being within the GHG reporting requirements:

Scope 1: Natural gas, company cars, on-site fuel consumption and refrigerants;

Scope 2: Purchased electricity, heat and steam.

At present, Scope 3 activities, including business travel, are excluded from the reporting scope with GHG emissions per employee being the most appropriate KPI for the Group.

We have collected data from offices across the Group. We have followed the 2013 UK government Environmental Reporting Guidelines and used emission factors from the UK government GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting 2016. The results are presented in the table below (note that this data is unaudited).

In some offices in the Group’s portfolio, electricity and heat charges are included in the office rental charges and therefore information on the exact amounts consumed by those particular businesses is not available. In these instances, we have calculated an estimate based on the size of the property being let and usage data from similar properties. In addition, it has not been practicable to measure the Group’s emissions from refrigerants, although these are not expected to be significant.

We are pleased to report a reduction in our carbon emissions per employee this year, due to continued efficiencies in the use of our property portfolio.

Tonnes of CO2e 2019 Tonnes of CO2e 2018
Scope 1 40 58
Scope 2 1,409 1,503
Total GHG emissions 1,448 1,561
Average number of employees 1,991 1,902
Emissions per employee 0.73 0.82

We strive to achieve the most energy efficient use of our office space. We are pleased to report that our Evoke Giant office in San Francisco is LEED Gold certified. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, and LEED certification is a globally recognised symbol of sustainability achievement.

Our work

We apply our sustainability principles across all of our operations and wherever possible we make use of technologies that enable us to limit our environmental impact. Employees are trained in video-conferencing and webinar facilities, with virtual meetings being conducted where possible. When travel is the only option, our policy is that public transport should be used where possible.


A network of Employee Champions promote positive environmental actions around the Group. We aim to minimise energy and water consumption, through encouraging staff to switch off electronic appliances and using electricity generated from renewable sources. In 2019 we have focused on promoting the following to employees:

  • Making use of telephone conferencing that enables limited environmental impact
  • Where travel is the only option – using public transport where possible

In 2019 we engaged a third party to conduct an audit of the electricity usage at our larger offices. The objective of the audit is to ensure the properties we rent are using the most efficient electricity sources possible. The conclusions of the audit will be fully assessed in 2020.

Paper wastage is minimised through promoting reuse, use of electronic communications and using paper from sustainable forests. By recycling, the Group’s UK businesses together saved the equivalent of 427 trees and 45 tonnes of CO2 in 2019.

Quality & Compliance


Our overriding aim is to continue to build and support a culture which values openness, accountability and disclosure.

As an organisation, we are committed to the highest standards of ethics and corporate governance and recognise the importance of operating within a strong corporate governance framework. Indeed, more and more of our clients expect this.

We acknowledge that there is always more that can be done, but our aim is to continually strengthen our position each year.

Code of Ethics

We believe that the honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour of all our workforce are fundamental to the reputation and success of the Group as a whole.

Hence in the year we created and published on our website a new Code of Ethics which outlines the key principles which govern the Company’s behaviour, mirroring an already established internal Ethics Policy.

This Code applies to all Group staff, workers, employees, contractors, freelancers and Directors, without exception, and is intended to promote a heightened awareness of ethical considerations and individual responsibilities relating to all of the Group’s activities.

A copy of the policy is available here

Whistleblowing Policy

The Company’s Whistleblowing Policy has procedures for disclosing malpractice and is intended to act as a deterrent to fraud or other corruption or serious malpractice. It is also intended to protect the Group’s business and reputation. During 2019, an external firm continued to provide access to a confidential multichannel 24/7 whistleblowing service across the Group, available in local languages. The Whistleblowing Policy encourages the reporting of any instances of malpractice for investigation, and action is taken as required. During the year, we took the opportunity to remind our workforce of the availability of this confidential service. We did not have any disclosures made to the 24/7 whistleblowing service in 2019.

Modern Slavery Statement

We are opposed to any form of slavery or human trafficking (together, Modern Slavery), and the Group’s policy is to ensure that it is eradicated from both our business and from our supply chains.

The Company publishes a Modern Slavery Statement, which is annually reviewed, detailing the steps that the Company has taken during the financial year to ensure that Modern Slavery is not taking place in any of its supply chains or in any part of our business. During 2019 we undertook, amongst other matters, the following steps aimed at ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of our supply chains or in any part of our business:

  • Implemented initiatives for onboarding suppliers so that where the Company or any of its subsidiaries enters into a contract with a new supplier, that the relevant supplier formally acknowledges their adherence to modern anti-slavery principles. This was extended to renewals of existing supplier contracts.
  • We asked each agency to complete a Supplier Risk Matrix, in order to categorise each of their existing suppliers into a risk category being high, medium, low and very low (over 7,000 suppliers were categorised).
  • We raised and reinforced awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking. Amongst other matters, all worldwide workers were asked to watch an awareness video on modern slavery as part of the annual acknowledgement to comply with all the Group’s policies.
  • The Company’s Board of Directors was kept abreast of the work undertaken on modern slavery and human trafficking, and was requested to feed back comments into the process.

A copy of our Modern Slavery Statement is available here.

All Company policies

The Company has a number of policies, statements and notices, which are reviewed regularly, with new policies presented to the Board as appropriate. During the year the Board approved the Data Protection Policy which sets out the Company’s policy for gathering, storing and processing the personal data of individuals.

In 2019 we tightened our procedures and requested all of our workforce to formally acknowledge their acceptance of and agreement to comply with all policies. Furthermore, for the first time this year, staff were obliged to watch a series of training and awareness videos. We also have statements which are available on our website, notably our Code of Ethics and Modern Slavery Statement.

All our policies and videos are available to our workforce via a 24/7 online policy management portal (known as PolicyHub). Further details of our policies, statements, notices and videos, are set out below.

Publicly available policies, statements and notices:

  1. Code of Ethics 
  2. Modern Slavery Statement
  3. Privacy Notice

Policies, statements and notices available to the workforce:

  1. Anti-Bribery, Corruption and Tax Evasion Policy;
  2. Data Protection Policy;
  3. Dealing in Huntsworth plc shares;
  4. Electronic Communications and Acceptable Usage Policy;
  5. Ethical Trading Policy;
  6. Ethics Policy;
  7. Guidance on Gifts and Entertainment Policy;
  8. Sanctions Policy;
  9. Share Trading Policy (for dealing in securities of other companies); and
  10. Whistleblowing Policy.

Training and awareness videos available to the workforce:

  1. Bribery and Corruption Indicators
  2. Data Protection Today (GDPR)
  3. Information Security
  4. Fraud and Social Engineering
  5. Spotting Phishing Emails
  6. Modern Slavery
Data protection

We are committed to:

  • When required, seeking consent for the collection, use and sharing of personal data;
  • Notifying data subjects in a timely manner in case of data breach (as required);
  • Limiting the collection and retention of essential personal data;
  • Implementing appropriate data security safeguards; and
  • Having clear terms and conditions for the use of personal data.

The Company has a Privacy Notice which is available here, and a Data Protection Policy which is available to the workforce.


People are at the heart of our business. We are committed to having a culture which stimulates and rewards our workforce.

Employee health and wellbeing

The Board recognises the need to maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all employees. Each business is responsible for ensuring that they operate in compliance with Group policies and local health and safety legislation.

The Group deploys policies and practices which assist its employees in achieving an appropriate work/life balance, including policies on parental, maternity and paternity leave, emergency time off and, where applicable, flexible working practices. Initiatives to promote health and wellbeing vary by company and include:

Flexible working is promoted through a range of schemes including work-from-home schemes and flexible starting times and flexi-hours;

  • Flexible benefits packages allowing employees to take their entire package as remuneration or opt for a range of benefits, including private medical insurance, staff pension schemes, life assurance, childcare vouchers, cycle-to-work schemes, discounted lifestyle vouchers or extra holiday days;
  • Employee assistance programmes which provide confidential advice and counselling support across a range of areas; and
  • Measures to promote a healthy working environment for employees, including on-site facilities for breaks, provision of showers for employees who wish to exercise in lunch breaks or cycle/run to work, provision of fruit and healthy refreshment options.
  • Measures to support mental health awareness amongst the Group’s employees. Our Mental Health awareness initiative focuses on prevention, intervention, treatment and education. Huntsworth continues to develop and implement health and wellness programmes in its continued support of its employees. Responding to the increasing awareness over mental health issues, Grayling UK, for example, encouraged its staff to partake in team activities at lunchtimes rather than work.
Employee training and development

We are committed to the development of our talent with a focus on offering opportunities for career development for all employees. Our operating companies foster career development through regular performance evaluations, career pathing and continual coaching feedback.

The Group provides access to a number of training initiatives which enable our people to develop skills which will support our businesses’ development and strategy.

Each of our Group companies also operate their own internal training programmes to keep staff up to date with developments in their sectors and provide additional skills in areas such as people management, leadership development, client management and international client director training.

Training programmes include a mixture of externally and internally facilitated courses. A number of our businesses allocate a mentor or coach to support personal development, perform appraisals and identify training needs. Our talent management programmes aim to recognise our best talent through both monetary incentives and providing additional development opportunities, for example through secondments into other areas of the business.

Employee communication

As referred to in the Corporate Governance report on page 43, Pat Billingham continues to act as the designated Non-Executive Director for engagement with the workforce. During 2020 processes and procedures will be implemented to ensure that the Board continues to engage with the workforce to understand their views and communicate Board decisions. An employee engagement survey was conducted in the UK via an anonymous online platform, with a series of questions designed to gather quantitative data on employee experience and satisfaction. This also captured key demographics, performance of key areas including value and recognition, team culture and pride. We will be rolling out this engagement survey to the Company’s US agencies in 2020, at which point we will be in a position to fully assess its conclusions.

Employees have opportunities to attend international conferences on matters of significance to their division as a whole. On a local scale, regular meetings are held between local management and employees to facilitate employee involvement in decision-making and businesses’ performance.

Succession planning

Succession planning continues to be an area of focus for the Board and Nomination Committee, both at the Board and senior management level. The Nomination Committee also reviewed succession planning at a senior management level, both on an emergency and long-term basis, identifying any retention risks.

We will continue to review succession planning processes across the Group, in order to identify the leaders of the future, cognisant of the importance of diversity within our senior management team and the requirements of the UK Corporate Governance Code.


We recognise that the Board sets the tone for diversity across the Group and that it is important that we have a diverse leadership to support good decision-making. We actively deploy recruitment policies and practices which enable us to attract the widest possible sources of talent into our business, which develops an inclusive culture.

We promote inclusive working practices and support our companies’ efforts to increase diversity of all kinds through best practice in recruitment, training, mentoring, parental leave and flexible working.

Huntsworth provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, military status, or status as a disabled veteran in accordance with applicable UK and US laws. In addition, Huntsworth strictly complies with all US applicable federal, state and local equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws.

The Group’s Equal Opportunities Policy is designed to ensure that disabled people are given the same consideration as others and enjoy the same training, development and prospects as other employees.

We are committed to gender diversity across the Group. As at 31 December 2019 women accounted for 41% (13) of executive management, 39% (28) of senior management and 64% (1,341) of total employees.

Throughout 2019, the Board had 43% (three) female representation, which exceeds the Lord Davies target of 33% female representation on the Board by 2020 applying to FTSE 350 companies. The Board understands the benefits of boardroom diversity and its aspiration and expectation is to maintain the proportion of women on the Board at least at the current level, while maintaining flexibility to ensure that all appointments are made on the individual’s ability and competency to fulfil the requirements of the role.

Gender pay

We are committed to ensuring our people have the best opportunities to succeed and are fairly remunerated, regardless of gender. During 2019 the Board reviewed the gender pay gap position amongst the workforce both in the UK and across the Group, and work is ongoing in this regard. This is a particular area of focus for the CEO and we look forward to providing further details next year on how we have promoted diversity and inclusion within the Group.



The Group recognises its responsibility towards the communities in which its businesses operate. In support of our communities, Group businesses throughout the world organise activities for staff to raise money for a wide range of charities as well as offering pro bono support to non-profit projects, participating in volunteer days and helping to raise money and awareness for good causes.

Over the last few years, our Dutch office, CFF Communications, along with Grayling in the US and Europe, provided pro bono support (250 staff hours valued at over £43,000) for ‘The Ocean Clean Up’, a Dutch non-profit foundation founded in 2014 by then 18-year-old inventor Boyan Slat, with the aim to clean up the tonnes of plastic waste that enter our oceans every year. We are proud to have been providing support to this foundation from its very first year and were delighted to see the launch of its first operational system from San Francisco into the Pacific Ocean this year.

Grayling UK continues to run the Grayling4Good initiative. Activities this year included food bank donations, lunchtime plogging (a combination of jogging with picking up litter) and tree planting.

At Huntsworth we feel our biggest contribution to our community is through the work we do, assisting with the development of drugs to make people better. We are committed to only working with drugs that have a positive impact and strive to find opportunities to help the most vulnerable in society.

The Group also made formal contributions of over £10,000 to 29 different charities around the world.