Witteveen+Bos introduced a Code of Conduct in 1998. We amplified the code in 2006 to establish a Company Code that we revised in 2010 in several respects. At internal meetings, the firm devoted considerable attention to integrity. Together with a number of clients, we identified integrity dilemmas. The outcomes were detailed in protocols that indicate how we address these issues.
The purpose of the Company Code is to set out guidelines for solid and impartial consultancy and for conducting business with integrity in a socially responsible manner. The Company Code includes our mission, vision, responsibilities, and rules of conduct. There are also references to other agreed arrangements contained in manuals, instructions, and agreements (including contracts of employment).
Rules of conduct of industry associations
Besides the responsibilities and rules of conduct that we have defined, we also adhere to:
- the Rules of Conduct of the Dutch industry association NLingenieurs
- the Code of Conduct of the European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI)
- the Code of Ethics of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC)
Annual Corporate Responsibility Report
Witteveen+Bos has signed the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact, a covenant between the UN and the international business community. It defines principles for doing business responsibly. By endorsing the covenant, we have given a commitment to endeavour to uphold human rights, to ensure the social protection of workers, to conduct business in an environment-friendly way, and to stamp out corruption. We have published the Witteveen+Bos Corporate Responsibility Report since 2008 in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). This report contains economic, environmental and performance indicators.
Environmental management programme
Witteveen+Bos set out its environmental and energy policy in an environmental management programme in 2010. It is a plan that contains our short-term and long-term measures for reducing the negative effects of our operations on the environment. Our focus is on the energy efficiency of our offices, the mobility of our employees, and the management of waste.
We have formulated our main responsibilities towards our stakeholders. Integrity and transparency on the part of our employees are important conditions for Witteveen+Bos. It is essential for an employee to be able to take responsible decisions under all circumstances.
At Witteveen+Bos, we act responsibly towards society and business, leading to the following responsibilities.
- We provide reliable and sustainable solutions with a view to people, the environment, and society at large.
- We attach great importance to acting in a sustainable and socially responsible manner and want our projects to reflect this endeavour.
- We adhere to generally accepted standards and values.
- We perform our professional duties with integrity and transparency.
- We refuse rewards capable of influencing our objectivity and our responsibility to society.
Towards our clients
- We guarantee our impartiality in every respect.
- We make every effort to provide professional services to the best of our ability.
- We avoid conflicts of interest by being open and transparent.
- We work in accordance with our quality system and in conformity with conditions accepted in the sector.
- We give honest and objective information on matters beyond the scope of our own firm.
Towards our business partners
- We display collegiality, loyalty and integrity as a basis for cooperation.
- We work together with respect for everyone’s role and input.
- We endeavour to assign activities according to everyone’s skills and to achieve a balanced spread of risks.
- We do not violate the Competition Act.
Towards our colleagues in the sector
- We refrain from any activities that harm the good name of our profession.We contribute to market forces, from a baseline of competence, quality, and mutual respect.
- We assess the work of third parties fairly and objectively.
- We do not behave in a way that we would not appreciate in others.
Towards each other as Witteveen+Bos colleagues
- We display solidarity and collegiality, while being honest and open with each other.
- We respect each other’s opinions and convictions, both professionally and socially.
- We act from a strong sense of community, but with recognition of everybody’s individuality.
- We allow scope for every individual to develop.
- We comply with the rules of conduct and, where doubt exists, we act in the spirit of the rules.
Rules of conduct
We have translated the aforementioned responsibilities into rules of conduct that we have included in regulations, manuals, instructions, and agreements (including contracts of employment). The main rules of conduct are summarised below according to category.
- The general obligations of Witteveen+Bos when carrying out a contract are those described in the sector-wide conditions (RVOI-2001; DNR 2005).
- The way we provide our services and our general conduct of business are described in our Quality Handbook.
- We do not make any arrangements with other firms concerning prices and conditions that are capable of restricting competition.
- We do not accept any gifts or services that are capable of influencing our impartial opinion or view.
- We do not offer third parties any gifts or services capable of influencing their impartial opinion or view.
- We report intimidation by external parties without delay to the project director if a project is concerned and to the Board if general matters are concerned.
- We decline to accept any contracts or instructions from external relations that jeopardise the safety or health of persons.
Conflicts of interest
- We recognise that project interests and company interests are interrelated; we will seek a decision from the project director or Board in cases where the interests of a project and those of the firm are capable of conflicting with each other.
- We will act transparently towards clients if there is likely to be a conflict of interest with advice provided to other clients, with respect for their interests and assurance of our impartiality.
- We will refrain from advising two different clients in one and the same project phase, unless both clients are aware of this situation and request our involvement.
- We will make sure, before accepting a contract from a party whose work we are supervising in other contracts, that we inform the other party of the responsibilities contained in our Company Code.
- We accept that, before embarking on any non-company activities, every Witteveen+Bos employee requires prior permission from the Board in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
- We recognise that the relevant project director’s approval is required before entering into cooperation with other parties.
- We recognise that cooperation of a more general and strategic nature require the approval of the Board.
- We recognise that the aim of cooperation is to offer the client added value, not to restrict competition.
- We recognise that employee development occurs through career development and personnel management as described in the Personnel Management Manual.
- We do not tolerate undesirable forms of conduct at Witteveen+Bos; the Regulations Manual describes the firm’s policy, which includes recourse to an external trusted person, a grievances procedure, and sanctions; the Undesirable Behaviour Committee will investigate these issues.
- We use e-mail and the Internet solely to serve the firm’s business interests; they must not be used for personal interests or for purposes that violate the law or the firm’s interests; Section 9.3 of the Regulations Manual defines the use of e-mail and the Internet in more detail.
- We recognise that the firm’s rules apply at its offices, as described in the Quality Manual.
- We accept that accountability and integrity are closely related, so agreed arrangements must be fulfilled.
- We treat information provided by clients with due care and attention; we make sure that we treat confidential information confidentially, unless the client says otherwise (under conditions applicable in the sector).
- We accept that our employees are under obligation to keep confidential everything that comes to their knowledge by virtue of their position and work, insofar as this obligation follows from the nature of the matter in hand or has been explicitly imposed (as set out in the contract of employment).
- We recognise that Witteveen+Bos has two internal trusted persons and one external trusted person with whom integrity dilemmas may be discussed at any time.
Procurement and authority to sign
- We recognise that Annex 8 of the Quality Manual describes the fields of work for which employees are authorised to sign.
- We recognise that the fields of work and maximum amounts for which employees are authorised to sign for tenders and project expenses are agreed individually between the Board and the employee concerned.
- We recognise that the maximum amounts for which employees are authorised to sign for general expenditure, other than projects, are agreed individually between the Board and the employee concerned.
- We recognise that no expenditure may be made on behalf of Witteveen+Bos until approved by a second person, in accordance with the Quality Manual and the Finance Manual.
- We recognise that personal gains or benefits through financial transactions for Witteveen+Bos are not allowed.
- We recognise that every Witteveen+Bos employee must record hours worked, making a distinction between billable, non-billable, internal and general hours.
- We recognise that every Witteveen+Bos employee must keep records of his/her business expenses, in accordance with the guidelines contained in the Finance Manual.
- We will ensure that charges billed to the client for the provision of services represent the value of the delivered service as agreed with the client.
- When providing advice, our employees strive to achieve at least the quality agreed with the client.
- We assure the quality of our work by applying a quality management system certificated under the ISO 9001 and VCA standards and described in our Quality Manual.
- We adopt an impartial and honest stance in our consultancy; we reject improper influencing of our advice by clients and other stakeholders. If the impartiality and integrity of our advice is jeopardised, we will report this situation to the project director who will subsequently take action.
- We will correct any deficiencies in the provision of our services in accordance with the stipulations contained in RVOI-2001, at no extra cost to the client.
- We will not accept any contracts that breach national or international laws and regulations.
- Witteveen+Bos is owned entirely by its employees, who are able to participate in the ownership scheme as a participant, partner, premium partner or senior partner.
- An employee’s shareholding does not affect his position as an employee.
- The value of the Witteveen+Bos share is set once per year by the General Meeting of Shareholders by applying a fixed formula.
- The rules for trading Witteveen+Bos shares have been laid down in the Shareholder Regulations and Participation Regulations.
- Day-to-day management of the firm is the responsibility of the Board, whose actions will be guided by the principles of good corporate governance.
- The Board is accountable to the General Meeting of Shareholders.
- A Supervisory Board has been installed to act as a sounding board for the Board and to advise on products, the market, strategy, policy, and organisation.
- Our Company Code reflects the business culture of Witteveen+Bos; we adhere to the code also when working abroad.
- When working and doing business in other countries, we respect local customs and cultures.
- If operating in accordance with our Company Code conflicts with local practices in certain countries, the Board will be asked to take a decision.
- In a general sense, we adhere to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in all our activities.
A combination of independence and ethics means that our employees work according to the self-assessment principle.
This is based on the following grounds:
- the Company Code applies to everybody, regardless of the individual concerned
- employees may hold each other accountable for each other’s conduct
- potential dilemmas that arise in everyday work will be discussed at regular times
- management and employees may approach the trusted persons designated by the Board for specific integrity dilemmas
- the Board is responsible for the firm’s integrity policy, assisted by the Integrity Committee
- the Integrity Committee consists of three persons, at least one is member of the Board as appointed under the firm’s articles of association
- the Company Code will be updated periodically by the Integrity Committee
All employees recognise that our firm’s core values and the assuming of responsibility towards our stakeholders are matters of fundamental importance to the firm’s continuity and to their personal performance.
Any actions in breach of the Company Code will be subject to sanctions in accordance with the manuals, instructions, and agreements (including contracts of employment). The Board will decide in any cases not covered by the regulations.