The Way We Work

The Way We Work

Understanding our mission and values, and the way we achieve them

Modern Slavery Act statement

Introduction from the Chief Executive, Nigel Portwood

Oxford University Press is committed to conducting its business to the highest standards of integrity and in accordance with relevant legislation.  We welcome the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 into UK law, as it focuses attention on the international problems of modern slavery and human trafficking.  It is important to us that we carry out our work in accordance with our core values and principles at all times, and in all territories.  We look to our partners to do the same.

This is the first slavery and human trafficking statement prepared by Oxford University Press, which is a department of the University of Oxford.  We look forward to building on our work in this area in future years.

Nigel Portwood
Chief Executive     

22 September 2016 

Our Structure

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.  The University of Oxford is a civil corporation established under common law, which was formally incorporated by the Act for Incorporation of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge 1571 under the name of 'The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford'.  The University of Oxford is an exempt charity under the Charities Act 2011. 

In accordance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the University of Oxford will in due course publish a slavery and human trafficking statement in respect of its financial year ending 31 July 2016.  Although Oxford University Press is a department of the University, and not a separate legal entity, it has a different financial year end to the rest of the University.  This statement is made in respect of the Press’s financial year ended 31 March 2016.

Oxford University Press has a distinct governance structure which is written into the statutes of the University of Oxford.  The policy of Oxford University Press is overseen by a Delegacy appointed from the academic staff of the University and chaired by its Vice-Chancellor. The Delegates appoint a Finance Committee consisting of some of their own number, the Chief Executive of the Press and other senior colleagues, as well as outside advisers. The Finance Committee acts in much the same way as the board of directors of a company.  The Chief Executive is responsible for running the Press.  This statement has been approved by the Press’s Finance Committee and Executive Committee (the senior executive management body).

Oxford University Press has offices in more than 50 countries, employs more than 6,000 people, and is the largest university press in the world. The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford trading as Oxford University Press has a number of subsidiaries throughout the world. 

Our Activities

As a department of the University of Oxford, Oxford University Press furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship and education by publishing worldwide.  The Press has a diverse programme, publishing thousands of titles each year globally, in more than 90 languages and in a variety of formats – print and digital. The Press’s products cover an extremely broad academic and educational spectrum, making content available to users in whichever format suits them best.

The Press publishes for all audiences – from pre-school to secondary level schoolchildren; students to academics; general readers to researchers; individuals to institutions. The range includes dictionaries, English language teaching materials, children's books, journals, scholarly monographs, music, higher education textbooks and schoolbooks. The main criteria when evaluating a new title for publication are its quality and whether it supports the aims of furthering education and disseminating knowledge.  Many titles are created specifically for local markets and are published by regional branches. 

Supply Chain Summary

The scope of the supply chain of Oxford University Press includes the following principal activities:

  • production of printed materials and ancillary items
  • freight
  • warehousing
  • digital platform development and hosting
  • the procurement of goods and services not directly related to the production of print and digital products.

Oxford University Press procures goods and services from suppliers across the world.  The Press proposes to undertake a risk assessment of those areas of its business and supply chain that may pose the greatest risk of slavery and human trafficking.  However, as described below, a number of policies and procedures are already in place that help the Press to assess and manage risk in this and other areas. 


Code of Conduct

The Press introduced a Code of Conduct in 2012 as a guide to support the Press’s employees to work in a way that is consistent with its values, and to support employees in making good decisions every day.  The principles in the Code are informed by the Press’s mission and underpinned by other policies.  The Code of Conduct is reviewed and re-issued annually, and is available in 18 languages.  Each employee is asked to acknowledge that they have read and understood it through a formal system.

During the financial year ended 31 March 2016, the Code of Conduct was updated to include specific reference to the Press taking steps to ensure that there is no slavery or human trafficking in its business or its supply chain.

Code of Conduct 2016/17

Partner Code of Conduct

A version of the Code of Conduct aimed at business partners was created in 2013 to give the Press’s partners a clear view of the values and principles that underpin all of its work.  In general, a copy of the Partner Code of Conduct is made available to all business partners, and the Press expects its business partners to act in accordance with the Partner Code of Conduct at all times.  The Partner Code of Conduct includes the following provisions:

  • We support universal human rights including equal employment rights, safe workplaces, freedom of speech and of association, and the rights of all to an education.
  • We oppose illegal or inhumane labour practices, including the use of forced or child labour, and expect our suppliers and other partners to do the same.

A new edition of the Partner Code of Conduct is planned, and it is proposed that it will be updated to include specific reference to slavery and human trafficking.

Partner Code of Conduct

Raising Ethical Concerns policy

Oxford University Press has a suite of other ethical policies applicable to its employees, including a policy on Raising Ethical Concerns.  The policy outlines the procedures that staff may adopt in the event that they suspect an instance of unethical behaviour.  A new edition of the Raising Ethical Concerns policy is currently in preparation, and it is proposed that it will be updated to include specific reference to slavery and human trafficking.

Employment policies

At the point of recruitment, appropriate checks on prospective employees are completed to ensure compliance with relevant laws.  The Press is in the process of implementing a Global Recruitment Policy to support the fair recruitment and selection of employees.  The Press’s Global Human Resources function works with our local management teams to make sure that pay and conditions are appropriately managed, and a Global Reward Team monitors pay and benefits against market conditions. 

Due diligence processes and contracting

Oxford University Press chooses its business partners with great care, and issues a questionnaire to those new prospective business partners who, in connection with the nature of the work they will be doing for the Press, are assessed as posing a potentially higher risk.  The responses to the questionnaire inform the Press’s assessment of whether the potential new business partner works in a way that is consistent with the Partner Code of Conduct, and whether further due diligence may be required. 

For business partners engaged in relation to areas of the Press’s supply chain that may pose a risk of slavery or human trafficking, it is proposed that the business partner questionnaire be enhanced by the inclusion of specific questions relevant to this area.

Where appropriate, Oxford University Press negotiates appropriate contractual clauses into its agreements with suppliers to address the risk of slavery and human trafficking.