June 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 2 
Main Feature
Ethical climate healthy and improving

As the vice president–Ethics and Business Conduct, Martha Ries is responsible for companywide internal policies and procedures, regulatory tracking, operational activities and compliance related to the Ethics and Business Conduct organization.

Ries offered her insight on various ethics issues at Boeing, such as improvements to business conduct programs at Boeing and the ethical health of the company.

Q. What’s the purpose of Ethics Recommitment events?

A. The purpose of Ethics Recommitment events is to reinforce the importance of ethics and good business conduct at all times. Recommitment offers the opportunity to learn and to share knowledge and understanding at individual work sites. It provides a place and a time for employees to ask questions about ethics decisions, to learn more from real life case studies and to have meaningful discussions on how to deal with ethical situations or matters.

In some instances, we are including our annual ethics refresher training—the Ethics Challenge—as part of the Ethics Recommitment event this year. That training, which includes real-life work examples from our business units, will occur annually instead of three times a year. We plan to unify our efforts into a single enterprisewide Ethics Recommitment event in 2005.

Q. How do you measure the health of our ethical climate at Boeing today?

A. Our ethical climate is healthy but continues to get healthier. We have had several isolated failures that have hurt us in a very public way. On the other hand, this has also raised the awareness of how important it is for all of us to be watchful and to protect our company from undue harm.

When you read news articles regarding Boeing’s failures, it is important to remember that there are many instances of positive news about our company, and that we are growing healthier every day through increased awareness such as training, education, improved processes and recommitment sessions. Every Boeing employee plays a part in our ethical climate by learning more about ethics, by asking more questions, by “doing the right thing” and by seeking help when necessary.

Q. What is the best way for an employee to get help on Ethics and Business Conduct?

A. There are many ways an employee can get help; all are good. An employee can go to their supervisor or Human Resources, call or write the Ethics Line—anonymously, if they want—or seek out their Ethics Advisor.

We have a toll-free telephone number into our Ethics Line 1-888-970-7171, 1-800-14-0201 in Australia, and fax at 1-888-970-5330. We also have encrypted e-mail at our EthicsLine.ethics@boeing.com address and submittal process at http://ethics.whq.boeing.com/ethicslinemail.html (internal boeing link only) for those who wish to stay anonymous. We can also take intracompany mail, at Mail Code 14-14.

An employee also can get answers to questions or report a possible violation by contacting an ethics advisor. We have advisors by regions and by sites, and there is a map on our Ethics Web site at http://ethics.whq.boeing.com/ethicsline.html (internal boeing link only) for easy reference. An employee with a hearing impairment can find their ethics advisor through TDD/TTY at 1-800-617-3384.

If an employee still can’t find their ethics advisor’s name, they can always call the Ethics Line toll-free number 1-888-970-7171 for help finding the name and contact information.

Q. What types of inquiries does Ethics receive?

A. Inquiries fall into a few key categories, although there are others.

People who call or write about “Conflict of Interest” are normally asking questions about starting a business, freelance work or outside interests that might conflict with their job at Boeing. Sometimes the inquiries are about a conflict with a Boeing assignment.

We get a good many queries about “Proper Use of Resources” and the personal use of company resources, as well as about billing proper time, or “Charging Practices.” Another category is “Accepting Gratuities.” Employees want to know the proper guidelines about accepting gifts from others such as suppliers or customers, or about special promotions such as free travel or gift certificates. We also receive inquiries about “Information Integrity,” or the appropriateness of possession and/or use of third party proprietary information.

Q. What happens after an employee comes forward about retaliation?

A. Once an allegation is raised, the relevant review organization—whether it’s Ethics and Business Conduct, Human Resources, or another group—assesses and addresses that situation. We take our actions seriously and look into every instance where an employee believes retaliation has occurred to ensure that isn’t the situation.

If retaliation is substantiated, then the complaint goes through a normal disciplinary process, which is reviewed with Human Resources. Depending on the circumstances, it could warrant a verbal warning, a written disciplinary action such as a Corrective Action Memo, or a dismissal, depending on the seriousness of the situation. Steps are also taken in cases where retaliation is substantiated to assure there is no adverse impact on the reporting employee’s career.

Through increased communications and additional leadership training, including courses at the Boeing Leadership Center, we are working hard to raise awareness that retaliation is not tolerated and will not be tolerated. As I mentioned before, our Code of Conduct clearly states that fact.

Q. How is Boeing handling hiring of former government employees to ensure the rules are followed?

A. Boeing has always had policies and procedures in place on hiring former government employees. Now, however, in response to the independent recommendations, we have tightened those procedures. We also are working to make sure that our Human Resources’ systems adequately track employees we hire from the government, or from competitors, for as long as any restriction on their employment applies.

Q. As an employee, what can I do to help Boeing always do the right thing?

A. I want to personally ask everyone in the company to live up to the standards set forth in the Boeing Code of Conduct and to act with integrity all the time; to contact Ethics for help when necessary; and to know that everyone in the Ethics organization is standing by to help.

Ethics is integral to every employee “doing the right thing.” Every Boeing person needs to participate and practice ethics and good business conduct. Integrity and ethical behavior is everyone’s responsibility.

—Maureen Herward


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