How Skanska is tackling the issue of ethics
Adam Crossley, Skanska UK’s ethics champion, shows how the company encourages employees to learn by addressing the difficult questions.
Increasingly UK plc is placing ethics at the top of the agenda. The public expects organisations to do the right thing, deliver products or services to promised standards, procure them fairly and treat employees in a way that enables them to thrive.
The same is expected in construction. This is very much the case at Skanska, where there is a clear commitment to developing an ethical culture. Living by our values helps create a genuinely inclusive culture, where employees are more likely to raise a concern if they have one.
We encourage this through our “What do you think?” ethical scenarios, which all employees have the chance to take part in at least once a quarter. Discussing dilemmas and sharing real cases demonstrates that there is not always a “right” or “wrong” answer and makes people think about their actions.
It’s also an opportunity to hear different perspectives, which helps if people encounter something similar in the future. A measure we often use is the noticeboard test. If your decision was made public on a noticeboard, would you still make the same choices?
A fictional dilemma recently discussed at Skanska is about anti-competition. A well-known contractor has held a long-term maintenance contract with the client. The contractor has great relationships with the client and its key supply chain partner, which has a major role in the delivery of the work.
The contract is coming to an end and a rebid is required. For the contractor, keeping the contract is key to maintaining its expertise in the sector – it’s a must-win project.
Tenders are submitted but, due to tighter budgets, a revised tender submission is requested based on a reduced scope of works. During the re-pricing phase, the contractor’s project manager is handed a memory stick by a director of the key supply chain partner.
A verbal message is relayed suggesting it contained competitor tender information. Allegedly the memory stick content was produced by the client and passed to the supply chain partner.
What should the project manager do? Accepting the memory stick raises potentially serious issues both for competition law and the Bribery Act. The contractor would then be in serious trouble, in terms of a fine, damaged reputation and potential exclusion from bidding for future work.
Adam Crossley is Skanska UK’s director of environment and its ethics champion