Boeing Frontiers
September 2003
Volume 02, Issue 05
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Integrated Defense Systems

Reputation Matters


Rick Moroski served as a
facilitator for the Recommitment
to Ethics training session for
about 4,000 first-shift employees
July 30 at the Wachovia Center in
Reputation means a lot in business. And if your good reputation, built over the years through painstaking work with your customers, employees and the public, takes a severe hit because of an ethical lapse, you may never recover.

How do you keep that from happening? Companies such as Boeing have ethical codes and policies, and enforcement measures designed to ensure that they are followed. But often, that's not enough.

What's really needed is the right environment—one in which employees not only speak up when they see something wrong, but feel comfortable in doing so. Employees need to know where to go to voice their concerns. They need full support—from their supervisors, fellow employees and from company officials. And they need positive recognition for doing the right thing.

More than 75,000 people from Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Phantom Works and Shared Services Group have taken a major step toward establishing that kind of environment by joining together for a deep look at ethics as part of a four-hour Recommitment to Ethics training package.

Offered on July 30 and in makeup sessions the following weeks, the training package included a review of key Boeing policies and expectations, an examination of internal and external case histories, video presentations from IDS leaders and a professor of Legal and Ethical Studies, and interactive discussions about issues raised in real-life workplace scenarios.

Training leaders, including senior executives and managers from all levels, emphasized the importance of complying with all restrictive markings on third-party information. When in doubt of Boeing authority to possess or use materials, they said, employees should seal the documents immediately in an envelope and bring them to an Ethics adviser or the Law Department.

Ethics ScenarioThe training began six days after the U.S. Air Force announced a temporary suspension of the Boeing IDS Delta program following an investigation of procurement activities connected with the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles program.

Though the EELV issue was a significant part of the IDS ethics discussion, it wasn't the only reason for the training session, said IDS President and CEO Jim Albaugh.

"Nothing is more important than our reputation as an ethical company," Albaugh told employees at a training session in St. Louis. "And this event is about refocusing our attention on ethics and the values that have made Boeing what it is today.

"While there is no question in my mind that the men and women of IDS handle themselves responsibly and act with integrity, last week's announcement by the U.S. Air Force to suspend a part of our organization is a pointed reminder that inappropriate actions of a few can have serious repercussions on the entire organization," Albaugh continued. "While we are disappointed in the decision of the Air Force, we are committed to regaining the confidence of all of our customers and delivering on our promises."

Albaugh expressed hope that the training and initiatives that would follow would encourage an environment of openness "where people feel they can bring things up" and "would make the right call" when faced with tough decisions.

"Today is about keeping our promise to ourselves," he said later in a video presentation as part of the training package. "It's about creating a work environment in which all employees feel valued and engaged, and safe in knowing they can share concerns without fear of retribution.

"Today is about creating a workplace where what happened several years ago during the EELV competition can never happen again. If today's session can bring us another step closer to building a culture of openness where we can all operate within an environment of integrity, where honesty is rewarded and healthy debate is encouraged, then today will be a success."

In his comments, Albaugh echoed many of the points made by Marianne Jennings, professor of Legal and Ethical Studies at Arizona State University, who led a videotaped segment developed to engage employees in discussions about why ethics matter. She used real-world examples in which ethics had a profound impact on certain organizations, and stressed that "the only sustainable competitive advantage you have is your reputation."

Jennings reiterated that one of the reasons that companies get deeper into an ethical quagmire is that employees who know something is wrong and want to say something about it get little or no support. Dismissed by their supervisors or pressured by their coworkers, these employees opt to stay quiet—or eventually leave. Their inability to speak up only allows ethical problems to get worse.

The Jennings presentation struck a responsive chord with many employees who watched it.

"She used topics and examples that everyone could understand and relate to," said Carol Jarvis, an employee at Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo, Calif. "She also discussed ethical choices she might face in her home life, reminding us that these responsibilities carry on through all aspects of our lives."

Martha Masiello, an employee at Boeing IDS Florida Operations, found Jennings to be "a very eloquent and interesting speaker who made a lot of sense. The responsibility for ethical behavior in the workplace starts and ends with all of us."

The venues in which employees participated in the training varied from the expected conference rooms, cafeterias and auditoriums to air-conditioned outdoor tents (in Mesa, Ariz.); a 20,000-seat, indoor sports arena (in Philadelphia); and the Sea Launch platform in the Pacific Ocean. Nearly 84 percent of all IDS employees participated in the training on the first day, July 30, along with about 10,000 employees from outside IDS. Figures from some IDS sites indicate how much logistical planning was necessary to pull off the training session.

At Boeing Satellite Systems, nearly 5,600 employees in three work shifts completed the training in about 65 auditoriums, cafeterias and conference rooms. Florida Operations employees participated in the training at eight locations that covered Titusville, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base. In Long Beach, Calif., more than 10,000 employees attended the training in 20 buildings. Huntsville, Ala., employees gathered in 50 conference rooms, and in St. Louis all but about 2,000 of the site's nearly 14,600 employees took the training on July 30 at various locations.

The work involved in putting the session together wasn't lost on Alan Roper, Boeing Satellite Systems manager of Ethics and Business Conduct.

"I have nothing but praise for the people in training, information systems, ethics, communications, and other organizations who put the training together," he said. "We hear 'team effort' a lot, but this is the best example I've seen. Many people put in a lot of great work on short notice to bring it off successfully."

Almost uniformly, employees reacted favorably to the Recommitment to Ethics package.

"At first, I think everyone thought four hours might be too long, and what could you possibly talk about for that long," said Shouee Chen of Boeing Satellite Systems. "But it was very well constructed, everyone participated, and we even started anticipating the questions that were posed after each scenario was presented."

L.A. Carter, a manufacturing employee in Long Beach, said the training "really boiled down to just about having values—and maintaining them. If you stick to your values, you shouldn't have any problems with ethics—even under pressure."

Bill James, a senior manager of Contracts and Pricing in Long Beach, participated in the session as a trainer. "Today was a great opportunity for me to present my ideas on the importance of ethics in our everyday jobs—whether we work on the production lines or in the office," he said. "We all have the same responsibility: be ethical in everything we do. It's good for business, it's easy to do, but most of all, it's the right thing to do."

Eunice Warren, an employee in Florida Operations, asserted that the commitment to openness, ethics and procurement integrity should be reinforced regularly in the future. "It (the ethics training) was very good, and we should make people accountable for their actions," she said. "It should be shown at least once annually, in addition to online ethics training."

Employees will have an opportunity to continue their focus on ethics as they take part in the ongoing annual Boeing Ethics Challenge training. This year, the Ethics Challenge, led by Boeing managers, is segmented into three separate modules.

Module 1 focused on integrity and open communication. Module 2, released last month, emphasizes that following the rules and communicating openly and honestly can help in the development of trusting relationships and avoidance of ethical problems. Plans call for Module 3 to be released by year end.

Further initiatives that emphasize openness and employee involvement are in the offing, said Wanda Denson-Low, IDS vice president of Human Resources.

"IDS will soon begin to accelerate its efforts around employee engagement and involvement in order to enable us to create a workplace where all employees feel included, appreciated, and valued; passionate and excited about their work," she said. "We must ensure that we have a workplace where suggestions are actually listened to and creativity flourishes; where fear of rejection or failure is unheard of; and where ethical issues can be raised without fear of retaliation."


Additional reporting by Joel Nelson, Edith Stull, Eugene Duval, Doug Holmes, Marc Sklar, Amy Reagan, Paula Korn, Paula Shawa and Jeanne Ballot.


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