Every employee at Calgary-based Enmax is expected to be an “ethical practitioner,” said Erin Kurchina, vice-president of HR, facilities and safety.
This is one of the six leadership attributes expected of all employees, along with being an ambitious problem-solver, taking ownership of the company’s success, contributing to the vision, sharing knowledge and being respectful.
“They are all required to take leadership training (because) we believe we’re all leaders and we all have leadership behaviours that are required of us,” said Kurchina.
These attributes are clearly defined to help Enmax’s 1,800 employees understand what each one really looks like in terms of behaviours, she said. For example, the ethical practitioner attribute is defined as “acting with integrity, meeting commitments and owning our own actions and outcomes.”
“But we appreciate those three behaviours can look very different depending on where you’re sitting in the organization. So what we’ve then done is said, ‘If you are an individual contributor, this is what we think acting with integrity looks like for you,’ and we set clear expectations,” said Kurchina.
This commitment to business ethics is one of the reasons Enmax placed on the 2013 World’s Most Ethical Companies list compiled by Ethisphere. The 145 companies from around the world that made the list “promote ethical business standards and practices, exceed legal compliance minimums and shape future industry standards by introducing best practices today.”
Companies are evaluated on: ethics and compliance program; reputation, leadership and innovation; governance; corporate citizenship and responsibility; and culture of ethics.
At Enmax, the energy company believes how it earns profits is equally as important as how much profit it earns, said Kurchina. To that end, employee performance is not just based on whether a goal was achieved, but how it was done.
“At the end of the year, we assign a performance management score and the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ are both taken into consideration,” she said. “It’s not good enough to just achieve strong results, you have to do them in a consistent way and I would say ethics are table stakes here.”
Natural gas company Encana has an onboarding program that is comprehensive around ethics, said Dave Lye, vice-president of corporate environment, health and safety, security and corporate responsibility.
New recruits at the Calgary-based company receive training on the Business Conduct and Ethics Practice which covers a number of topics including: compliance with laws and regulation; conflict of interest; anti-fraud; disclosure; confidentiality; securities trading and insider reporting; fair dealing; acceptance of gifts; privacy; and political contribution.
New employees are expected to work through a series of online training modules that cover these topics and virtually sign an acknowledgement and commitment page, said Lye.
Every two years, all of the 4,200 employees are required to complete a recommitment package through a series of online training tools. This helps to reinforce the culture and alignment with ethical practice the company expects, he said.
“Certain (employees) are faced with ethical decision-making on a regular basis — negotiating deals, dealing with stakeholders. Then there’s a large part of the population where that’s not part of their day-to-day activities, like our geologists or folks who are drilling wells — they might not understand a lot of the decisions they make have an ethical basis — so it’s a way of reinforcing and reminding that,” said Lye.
Encana is also conducting a review of its entire ethics and compliance program to identify areas for improvement.
“It’s an opportunity to set the tone from the top and also an opportunity to allow people to give feedback to ensure the direction we’re giving them is meaningful and helping them make the right decisions.”
If Encana employees come across unethical behaviour, they can call the integrity hotline to lodge their concerns. Employees can remain anonymous and the 1-800 number is managed at arm’s length from the company, said Lye.
Encana also has an internal investigations committee that looks at complaints referred to it through the hotline, human resources or other channels.
“If behaviours are not as they’re expected, there’s the mechanism to investigate and there are consequences,” he said.
As a global company operating in hundreds of countries, business integrity and ethics are hugely important at Cisco, said David Heather, vice-president of human resources at Toronto-based Cisco Canada, which has 1,500 employees. The telecommunications equipment company was founded on the principles of open communication, empowerment, integrity and respect, and those remain at the forefront today, he said.
“How we go to market varies and depending on the country where we operate, we certainly have to adapt and comply to the laws of the land, but some of the core themes are integral to wherever we operate.”
Every year, the CEO issues a video message to 73,000 employees around the globe about ethics. It outlines why ethics are so important to the company, emphasizes Cisco’s core values and explains what’s new or has changed, said Heather. Employees are then required to complete online training and renew their commitment to the business code of conduct.
“It’s a very clear go-to-market (strategy) — this is how we do business for Cisco. There’s no ambiguity in there, there’s no grey areas, we are explicit and declarative on what our values and ethics are,” he said. “We expect very high standards from employees in this regard.”
If Cisco employees have ethics-related concerns, they have three clear routes they can use to ask for help: their line manager, human resources department or in-house ethics office for more complicated issues, said Heather.
And 91 per cent of employees said they know where to go for help to resolve an ethical issue, according to the company’s annual employee survey.
“It talks to the very high levels of pushing this and making sure it’s embedded in our values and culture,” he said.
Corporate citizenship and responsibility is a top priority at Cisco and employees are empowered to give back to their communities, said Heather. If they raise money for charity, Cisco will match their contributions dollar for dollar, and they are also encouraged to take paid time off to volunteer at a charity of their choice.
At the organization level, Cisco Canada donates its video conferencing technology to a number of charities and not-for-profit organizations. It also opens up its conference rooms — which are equipped with Cisco technology — to not-for-profit organizations so they can hold board meetings there.
“(They have) high-definition video conferencing, so if you’re in Vancouver, if you’re in Toronto, it’s like you’re talking face-to-face,” said Heather. “There’s no costs for them, no travel costs, and it really does drive a lot of collaboration between board members. The not-for-profits think it’s a great idea, and we’re happy to help.”
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