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

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 focused attention on the international problems of modern slavery and human trafficking, and since its enactment these problems have been the focus of increased public scrutiny and concern. We welcome this development. Oxford University Press is committed to conducting its business to the highest standards of integrity and we have a zero tolerance approach to modern slavery and human trafficking.

Nigel Portwood
Chief Executive
Oxford University Press                      Date: 15 September 2017   


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 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. 

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.  The Delegates meet under the chairmanship of the University of Oxford’s 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 over 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. Further information on the Press and its mission can be found here.  

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 continues to include the following principal activities:

  • production of printed materials, and ancillary items;
  • freight;
  • warehousing;
  • digital platform development and hosting; and
  • 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.   

Risk Assessment and Key Risks

During the financial year ended 31 March 2017, the Press’s assessment of key risks within its supply chain from a modern slavery and human trafficking perspective indicated that the following supplier activities presented a potentially high risk:

  • production of printed materials;
  • production of items ancillary to the production of printed materials including, in
  • particular, toys and textiles accompanying certain educational resources;
  • the supply of electronic devices to the Press; and
  • digital editing and typesetting.

The Press believes that the potential risk is enhanced where such activities are undertaken in countries where international indices show a higher risk of modern slavery and human trafficking.

The risk assessment exercise was informed by the Global Slavery Index and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply’s guidance document, Tackling Modern Slavery in Supply Chains.


Code of Conduct

he 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. The Code of Conduct includes 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

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.

A new edition of the Partner Code of Conduct will be issued later in 2017 and has been 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 was issued in January 2017, and includes specific reference to ethical concerns relating to illegal and inhumane labour practices such as slavery and human trafficking. During May and June 2017, all employees were asked to review the Press’s suite of ethical policies, including the Raising Ethical Concerns policy.

Employment policies

At the point of recruitment of Press employees, appropriate vetting checks are completed to ensure compliance with relevant laws. During the financial year ending 31 March 2018, the Press will begin implementing a Global Recruitment Policy and a global recruitment system 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, training 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. 

Additional questions for insertion into business partner questionnaires have been identified, and the intention is to use these enhanced questionnaires for the categories of business partner identified as high risk at the next due diligence revalidation point for such business partners. As part of the due diligence revalidation process, the intention is that site visits and appropriate awareness raising and training on the subject of modern slavery and human trafficking will be carried out with such business partners.


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