Social Impact and ESG Report 2021

We are one of the only companies in the world that helps its customers pursue justice, truth, and transparency. Together we help uphold the rule of law, turn the wheels of commerce, catch bad actors, report the facts, and provide trusted, unbiased information to people all over the world. Through our people, products, and partnerships, we made significant strides in 2021 in tackling crucial global issues.  

Broadening access to justice

Prior to the pandemic, an estimated 5 billion people globally had unmet justice needs, according to the World Justice Project. With barriers ranging from an inability to take time off of work, to an outright deprivation of basic human rights, access to justice has been a perennial challenge for legal systems around the world.

In the past two years, as COVID-19 shuttered courtrooms everywhere, that challenge grew into a full-fledged crisis. By the end of 2021, jurisdictions around the world were facing backlogs of thousands of unheard cases. Thomson Reuters was able to play an important role in getting courtrooms back on track with its cloud-based digital exhibit and evidence solution Case Center, which made it possible for cases to be heard virtually. The technology introduced a new way of working that is redefining access to justice for a new generation. 

Combating online exploitation and abuse

Online sexual exploitation and abuse (OSEA) is growing at an alarming pace globally. Digital technology and the internet provide significant opportunities for advancing gender equality and women’s and children’s empowerment, but ever-increasing internet and digital connectivity and online anonymity are making it easier to groom, recruit, and sexually exploit with impunity.  International and national laws have not kept pace with changing technology, and this needs to change.

Using thorough legal research conducted through Thomson Reuters’ Foundation’s TrustLaw program, Equality Now and a team of lawyers examined the laws relating to OSEA, focusing on five countries. With the research in hand, Equality Now then partnered with the Thomson Reuters Social Impact Institute to bring the issue to the forefront with a breakthrough report: Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Women and Girls: A Call for International Standards

Drawing on their deep legal and editorial expertise, a team of Thomson Reuters Practical Law volunteers helped craft the report, which put the survivor at the center to illustrate the impact of OSEA, including an executive summary, country studies, and survivor stories. Lending design and copywriting support, along with photography from the Reuters catalogue and promotion from Thomson Reuters communications experts, this multidisciplinary team invested over 460 hours of pro bono work to create a bold call-to-action that is now being heard by lawmakers and technology companies around the world. 

Hear more about the project and read the full pro bono case study.

Innovating for social good

Thomson Reuters has a longstanding commitment to supporting pro bono work as part of our legal corporate responsibility practice. For Pro Bono Week we took a page from our roots in technology development and launched our first IMPACTathon. The event brought teams of innovators together in a series of problem-solving challenges and tackled a range of critical issues spanning media literacy, human rights, and access to justice.

Over five hours, a group of six non-profit organizations from across the U.S. presented a challenge statement and were matched with a cross-functional team of Thomson Reuters employees who tackled these challenges together, drawing on their expertise in marketing, strategic planning, business development, diversity and inclusion, communications, social media, technology, and customer relationship management.

Much of the work focused on helping the organizations develop necessary capacity-building tools to enhance their own abilities in areas not typically supported by foundation grants and individual donors. Ultimately, Thomson Reuters employees provided the equivalent of US$46,000 in consulting services and each organization left the day with tangible, sustainable action items that could immediately be implemented. In most cases, they also inherited long-term pro-bono consultants, with many of the teams committing to continue working together after the event.

View the IMPACTathon infographic here.

Driving legal literacy

Despite global supply chain issues, we continued our longstanding partnership with Books for Africa, a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, sorting, shipping, and distributing books to children and adults in Africa, by providing a 40-foot sea container with a complete law library to Zimbabwe.

The shipment marked the 108th law library we have delivered to Africa through our work with the organization. Our global footprint at Thomson Reuters affords us a unique position to provide law libraries in multiple languages and in support of various legal structures. The resources we’ve contributed often go to organizations or countries with no existing law library, and it is humbling for Thomson Reuters to help provide this crucial foundation.

Title IX Research Project for Gender Justice  

In one week this past fall, Thomson Reuters volunteer lawyers logged more than 50 hours researching decisions from every Circuit Court in the U.S. to critical precedents for lawsuits involving claims of sex discrimination in school sports, lawsuits involving transgender students in sports, and use of restrooms for transgender students.

This was part of our annual participation in national Pro Bono Week, a week-long celebration of public service that connects attorneys nationwide. Our lead partner was Gender Justice, a non-profit working to create a world where everyone can thrive no matter their gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation. Based on this research, Thomson Reuters volunteers delivered a 70-page document containing caselaw research that Gender Justice can use to pursue Title IX cases on behalf of students nationwide.

Continuing to combat misinformation globally  

Social media platforms have increased our access to information but have also made it easier to access unverifiable and misleading data. While these platforms have provided global audiences a faster, better understanding of events such as wars, humanitarian disasters and historic political events, the challenge of combatting misinformation has become a global imperative.   

As one of the world’s most trusted and largest news providers, this challenge is core to the Reuters mission. Reuters launched further initiatives focused on rooting out misinformation at its source in 2021, including an expansion of its Fact Check unit to review Spanish-language content from Facebook and Instagram in Mexico, and a partnership with Twitter to help identify and contextualize emerging narratives on social media and provide users of the platform with credible information to make informed decisions. 

Digital news trends in 2021  

TikTok reached an amazing milestone last year as more than one billion people were drawn into the app’s mix of dance videos, funny animals and pop culture parodies. Add the legions of social media consumers who now get the majority of their news from platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and it becomes clear how critical understanding trends in digital news distribution has become.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, funded by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, drives conversations around the future of news while working to ensure that journalists, editors, and media executives face the opportunities and challenges of a changing media environment from a position of strength. Their flagship, preeminent study on digital news consumption globally focused on changes in how people access news, changing perceptions of trust, and rising concern about misinformation in the tenth addition of its Digital News Report. Expanded to cover 46 global markets, this year’s report explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many of the long-term trends that have been building over the last decade and weighs in on how they will affect the role of the media long into the future.