By Ann-Marie Hedbeck – General Counsel and Senior Vice President at Skanska
Skanska is one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups with expertise in construction, the development of commercial projects and residential areas, and public-private partnerships. The Group, with 57,000 employees in selected home markets in Europe, US and Latin America, is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and listed on the OMX Stockholm Stock Exchange. Skanska’s sales in 2013 totalled SEK 136 billion ($18bn).
Skanska is proud to be able to contribute to the development of our societies, improving people’s lives and adding value for all stakeholders – clients, users, investors and shareholders.
Guided by values
Sustainability and strong values are at the heart of the company and in everything we do. Based on our global green experience, we aim to be the clients’ first choice for green solutions. Skanska is also committed to enhancing workplace safety for its employees and for everyone involved in our projects. A caring and a learning culture along with an elaborate set of systems and procedures drive the Skanska safety strategy toward the zero accidents target.
Equally central to the company’s culture are the strong values that guide all employees in their everyday work, no matter where they are in the world. A goal of zero ethical breaches is based on the Skanska Code of Conduct.
Well aware that ethical behaviour is dependent on every single individual, Skanska has initiated regular ethical training of all employees. In bringing to life our Code of Conduct, employees are encouraged to discuss real ethical matters and dilemmas in an open atmosphere. The importance of values and ethics is also on the agenda at the company’s yearly management meetings. Furthermore, there’s the possibility for an individual to anonymously report observations to Skanska’s Code of Conduct Hotline. The focused efforts on business ethics include being a founding member of the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative, PACI.
As an industry leader, Skanska works actively to improve the entire industry sector in such vital areas as sustainability, workplace safety and business ethics. Skanska shares its knowledge and expertise in numerous initiatives for the improvement of our sector, as well as our societies at large.
“Having the correct, well-functioning corporate governance in place is a prerequisite for going the extra mile and adding value beyond mere project demands”
Sharing knowledge in the UN
Since 2001, Skanska has been qualified to share its green expertise in the UN Global Compact. Additionally, Skanska is a sponsoring partner for the World Green Business Council’s two recent reports Business Case for Green Building and Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building.
A large portion of the company’s sales are related to public sector projects and therefore it is only natural that Skanska takes an active part to contribute to society and in improving people’s daily lives. Skanska’s Corporate Community Involvement policy focuses mainly on education in connection to our projects. Recent Community Involvement ventures include training ex-offenders in UK with the ultimate goal of employment. About 75 ex-offenders have been employed in past years.
Of course, having the correct, well-functioning corporate governance in place is a prerequisite for going the extra mile and adding value beyond mere project demands. Naturally, adequate corporate governance also enables the company to put all focus on its business and operations. Skanska has a profitable growth strategy with the overall goal of generating shareholder return. Needless to say, our corporate governance drives and supports this strategy. Moreover, it ensures a division of roles and responsibilities in order to ensure effective management and controls.
Skanska’s risk and opportunity management focuses on identifying, preventing, managing and minimizing the risks in individual projects as well as identifying opportunities. The project type, size and location are decisive for the level at which the assessment takes place. Going forward, Skanska foresees more comprehensive requirements and demands relating to corporate governance, based on EU directives and international standards. But more importantly, as a people and project business with about 10,000 ongoing projects, we should continuously improve policies, risk assessments, monitoring and controls in relation to the business.
Governance will be continuously adjusted and strengthened over time. This will also help strengthen our corporate culture. Clear messages from the Board and management and clear responsibilities are essential for success. We welcome requirements that would increase transparency and shareholder rights and societal benefits. Clear and open communication about our business and how we are a committed and responsible company is a given.
Social demands will increase
We foresee that the societal demands on businesses will increase – being a taxpayer and a fair player will not be sufficient. In fact, we welcome higher demands on us.
In a recent interview in a Swedish daily – Dagens Samhälle – Skanska President Johan Karlström encouraged public clients to “Demand more of us! It will not add costs to put additional demands on us in connection to our assignments. When on site, we have the ability and resources to train, mentor and employ people. Make use of this”. However, Skanska does not do this to be charitable. It is good for our business, we can attract and recruit from a wider competence base and we can better reflect the societies we are operating in. A more diverse Skanska is good for both the business and for our clients.
Looking ahead, we must have the right focus. That is to be able to focus on our business, on our clients and shareholders and all other stakeholders. Having the adequate corporate governance in place gives us the right platform to do this.
About the Author:
Ann-Marie Hedbeck is General Counsel and Senior Vice President, responsible for Group Legal Affairs since June 2012. Joined Skanska year 2000.