Hinesville public-works contractor CH2M HILL/OMI is among the world’s most ethical companies for 2013, according to Forbes Magazine’s Jacquelyn Smith. In a March 6 online article, Smith said the Ethisphere Institute, which she called an “international think tank,” recently released its list of 138 international companies. Smith said inclusion on the annual list allows global industries to “trumpet their do-gooding ways.”
The article notes this is the seventh year for the list, which, Smith said, is not a ranking. All the companies that made the list are winners, she said.
Gregg Higgins, local CH2M HILL/OMI director, said this is the fifth consecutive year the company has made the list.
“CH2M HILL has a long history of commitment to business ethics,” said Higgins, explaining the company applied for consideration for the award. “There are two specific examples that I often refer to when asked about this subject. One is the ‘Employee Ethics & Business Conduct Principles,’ and the other is our ‘My Safe Work Place’ program. The ‘Principles’ is a complete training program that all employees must take annually. At the completion they must sign the commitment statement, which, in summary, requires everyone to commit to these four principles. Violations of these principles are not acceptable.”
He called “My Safe Workplace” a reporting mechanism. Every employee can either electronically or through a toll-free number make a report 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reports are submitted anonymously and confidentially to CH2M HILL/OMI’s legal team, which looks into all reports, Higgins said.
Smith said Ethisphere reviewed nominations this year from more than 100 countries and 36 industries. According to Ethisphere’s website, CH2M HILL was recognized for “engineering and design.” Ethisphere Executive Director Alex Brigham said the “most ethical” list is developed from an “ethics quotient,” which is based on numerous multiple-choice survey questions that are answered by the nominated company.
These questions include the company’s code of ethics; litigation and regulatory infraction histories; an evaluation of investment in innovation and sustainable business practices; and activities designed to improve corporate citizenship.
He said most of the responses to the survey information are verified through public records, but some non-public information also is requested from the company, including training policies, whistle-blower programs and internal “tone-from-the-top communications.” Brigham said companies that have had significant legal problems within the past five years and companies that deal with alcohol, tobacco and firearms are not considered.
As it introduced this year’s honorees on its website, Ethisphere said those on the list “not only promote ethical business standards and practice internally, they exceed legal compliance minimums and shape future industry standards for introducing best practices today.”
“The emphasis on ethics goes back to our company’s very founding in 1946 and was later captured in ‘The Little Yellow Book,’ which was authored by founder and former CH2M HILL President James Howland,” Higgins said. “This simple collection of management quotations summarizes the many values — including honesty, integrity and trust — on which the firm was built. These values ... are as valid today as they were back then. The book has been translated into several languages and can be found on CH2M HILL office desks around the world.”
Higgins said the most ethical list is one of many accolades earned by his company. In January, CH2M Hill was selected by Fortune Magazine for its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. It was the sixth time in the past 10 years the company made that list.