NS aims to comply systematically and permanently, demonstrably and credibly with the legislation and regulations that are appropriate for a company of NS’s social standing and responsibilities. That is why we made the Integrity & Compliance function yet more professional in 2018. The process for reporting and handling potential integrity issues has been revised and we established an NS-wide policy framework for compliance. More than 230 sessions on integrity have been held in the organisation.
NS has the ambition to elevate integrity and compliance to a structurally higher level. In order to achieve a proactive organisation in the context of an open and safe culture, it is necessary that integrity and compliance are an integral part of the business operations. We carry out measurements of this every year. These show that NS made progress in 2018 in risk awareness and in signalling and handling integrity issues. The actions that we originally initiated, such as the sessions, are now being followed up.
Integrity & Compliance department
The Integrity & Compliance (I&C) department focuses on encouraging desired behaviour and correct observance of legislation and regulations within NS. The department develops policy, provides information on that policy, handles and investigates integrity reports, provides solicited and unsolicited advice, fulfils the role of compliance officer and promotes integrity awareness within NS. Themes which I&C focuses on include forms of conduct, conflicts of interests, protection of information, fraud, anti-corruption and competition.
The department reports to the Chief Governance, Risk & Compliance Officer, working closely with other departments including HR, Communications, Risk, Legal Affairs, Security and Audit. Consultations also take place (subject to the limits set by confidentiality) with the confidential advisers within NS and the ‘Vangrail’ network within NS about developments, trends and signs regarding reports and queries about integrity.
The Integrity Portal on the intranet provides employees with information on the NS integrity and compliance policy and gives them the opportunity to report integrity issues, submit questions and dilemmas and find contact persons. Tools and learning aids about integrity and compliance are also available here for staff and managers. The information in the Integrity Portal is constantly being amended and added to in response to the latest developments. Every month, employees receive a themed bulletin with concise information on a specific topic, such as communication and conduct, conflicts of interest and intimidation.
Integrity Desk and Scheme for Reporting Integrity Issues
Staff have several options for (anonymously) reporting integrity issues or abuses: by e-mail, by phone, in a one-on-one conversation or via the Integrity Desk on the Integrity Portal. The Scheme for Reporting Integrity Issues (including ‘whistle-blower’ reporting) guarantees that employees can report irregularities or suspicions of irregularities, that these reports will be dealt with carefully and confidentially and that the employee will not experience any adverse consequences of having reported the incident. If there is an irregularity or a suspicion of an irregularity, a manager can directly submit a request for an investigation into the circumstances.
All reports and requests for such an investigation are handled according to the NS Scheme For Reporting Integrity Issues. A report may also lead to a decision to conduct an investigation into the circumstances. This investigation focuses on establishing the truth. Such investigations into the circumstances take place in accordance with the investigation protocol for the Scheme For Reporting Integrity Issues. An investigation may result in measures to be implemented with regard to the organisation, processes and/or corporate culture. Another possible result can be that disciplinary measures are taken against the employees involved or that the relationship with suppliers and other partners is revised or ended. If there are suspicions of criminal misconduct, a case can be handed over to the police and the judicial authorities.
In 2018 a total of 101 cases were received and handled. Another 143 questions and dilemmas were submitted to I&C in 2018. The topics can be broken down as follows:
Overview of integrity cases 2018
Fraud and theft
Sharing confidential information
Conflict of interests
Other (including signing authority and salary payments)
Given the increasing attention to Integrity & Compliance within the organisation, it is expected that the number of reports and questions will increase in 2019.
In the event of inappropriate behaviour, employees can call on one of the confidential advisers at NS. The confidential adviser can offer support, give advice and assist with taking steps to stop or change inappropriate behaviour. Or they can lend a willing ear. In 2018 employees called on a confidential adviser more than 160 times.
Of course NS wants to comply with applicable laws and legislation. That is part of the Integrity theme. Facilitating and supervising ethical conduct is important. The NS Code of Conduct plays an important part here. There are also dedicated compliance programmes that focus on legislation and regulations, such as the Railways Act, the Competition Act and legislation with respect to the protection of privacy.