‘Speaking Up’ to maintain high ethical standards

‘Speaking Up' to maintain high ethical standards

At Centrica, we are committed to operating professionally, fairly and with integrity. To achieve this, our Business Principles, set out how we want to do business and guides the behaviour of our people, partners and supply chain to act with the highest ethical standards which will help us become a better business.

To maintain our high standards, we encourage all of our people, including agency staff, consultants, contractors and partners to speak up if they have a concern about potential workplace malpractice or if they believe the Business Principles have been violated.

Concerns can be raised through a variety of channels including our independent 24-hour ‘Speak Up’ phone and web helplines, which enable concerns to be reported confidentially and, if preferred, anonymously. These services are provided by Expolink in the UK and by EthicsPoint in Direct Energy. Concerns can also be reported directly to members of the Centrica Executive Committee, the Direct Energy Ethics Committee as well as mailboxes in the UK and North America. Any concerns received via these routes are channeled through a consistent process to provide a complete picture of any allegations that will inform appropriate subsequent action.

In total during 2013, we received 68 contacts (18 in the UK and 50 in North America), with around a third of cases reported anonymously. This represents 39 more contacts than 2012, with the increase due in part to our continued efforts to drive improved employee visibility of the Speak Up helpline alongside training and wider communications delivered around the Business Principles declaration. The total number of contacts received represents approximately one contact for every 540 employees and excluding customer complaints, this ratio falls to around one report for every 750 employees.

The most common cases raised involved customer complaints, discrimination or harassment, and misconduct or inappropriate behavior – see table below for a full breakdown.

Issue reported in 2013

Number of cases

Compensation, Benefits, Performance


Conflict of Interest


Discrimination or Harassment


Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior


Misuse of Assets or Services


Misuse of Management Authority


Other Employee Relations Concerns


Other Legal or Regulatory Compliance Concerns


Time Abuse


Employee Fraud


Substance Abuse


Health & Safety


Other Concerns (note 1)




Each of these reported incidents has been channeled through a consistent and comprehensive process of investigation to ensure we take appropriate remedial action. Concerns raised are taken very seriously and the Centrica Audit Committee receives quarterly updates on all cases. A small number of investigations are ongoing while a few have resulted in disciplinary action. For example, an employee’s contract was terminated and one person arrested following investigations in the UK, while five employee terminations occurred in North America.

We strive for a best practice approach to how we do business and the investigations we have undertaken have highlighted areas where processes and controls could be further developed, including improvements to both operational and IT security processes. We have taken action to review and address these. We have also refreshed our policy and procedures to reflect new reporting channels as well as changes in relevant regulatory bodies and internal personal changes.


Each of these cases was a customer complaint and was handled by the Direct Energy Residential or Services Office of the President, or British Gas Financial Crime Team as applicable.