- Maintain strong financial performance despite a sluggish economy.
- Achieve timely and constructive regulatory recovery of our investments.
- Successfully resolve property tax disputes in Ohio.
- Rebuild trust with stakeholders in Indiana.
- Maintain strong corporate governance ratings.
- Attract additional investors who value sustainability.
- Continued to aggressively manage operating and maintenance expenses.
- Increased the quarterly dividend from $0.24 to $0.245 per share in 2010.
- Outperformed the Philadelphia Utility Index in total shareholder return in 2010 and over the past three and five years.
Senior Vice President — Audit Services and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
Jeff Browning reacts to a major challenge to the company’s reputation in 2010, and reaffirms expectations for ethical conduct for employees and leadership.
What do the recent issues in Indiana say about Duke Energy’s ethical culture?
A: Despite being named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the past four years, we experienced ethics issues in Indiana. We are not proud that this situation occurred, but it should not be viewed as a broad indictment of our culture or a lack of commitment to operating ethically.
Our culture and organizational character are defined by how we operate every day, including how we address tough issues that arise. In this particular instance, we investigated the issues and then took decisive actions that were consistent with our values and operating practices. Those actions reinforce and support the strength and integrity of our ethical culture, as well as our unwavering commitment to protecting and maintaining that culture.
How does Duke Energy reinforce the importance of ethical behavior throughout the company?
A: The principles in our Code of Business Ethics (CoBE) help foster a culture of integrity and accountability. This begins with the board of directors and extends to our employees, contract workers and suppliers. We set expectations regarding adherence to the CoBE, and we monitor compliance across the company, taking appropriate actions and providing training to reinforce expectations and ensure compliance. Additionally, we expect managers and supervisors to maintain and follow an “open door” policy, we provide anonymous mechanisms for reporting concerns, and we solicit periodic employee feedback on ethical operating practices through our Employee Opinion Survey.
Reputations are built over a lifetime, but can be lost in an instant. Now, more than ever, we need every employee to do their best to help us restore public trust and confidence in our company.
Are any changes planned due to the missteps in Indiana?
A: Ethics, like safety, is critical to our operations and to our ability to effectively serve all of our stakeholders. The hard lessons that we learned from the Indiana situation afford us the opportunity to make a number of constructive changes. Some of these changes include modifying our ethics training, awareness and advocacy programs, developing specific training related to interactions with regulators and public officials, and fostering heightened awareness in determining and addressing conflicts of interest in the hiring process. The situation in Indiana, although difficult, has been a beneficial learning experience for us. We will use it to get better.