Ethical leadership

Our core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people underpin our work with employees, customers, investors, contractors, suppliers, non-governmental organisations and others. The Shell General Business Principles, introduced more than 40 years ago, describe our core values, our responsibilities and the principles and behaviours that guide how we do business.

Ethical leadership during COVID-19

In 2020, we stepped up efforts to support our employees, contractors and those we do business with to make the right ethical choices and adhere to Shell’s compliance expectations in response to challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We developed guidance on COVID-19 to help Shell leaders set the tone for behaving ethically and to promote compliance in their teams. We offered additional practical advice on avoiding potential breaches of our Code of Conduct. This advice covered managing potential conflicts of interest while working at home, where work and family lines may be blurred. We issued reminders to complete mandatory training and emphasised that leaders should ensure people feel comfortable speaking up.

Two women talking at an office in Beijing, China. (photo)

We work to ensure our workplace is an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up.

This work built on the ethical leadership expectations programme, which was introduced in 2018 and continues to be rolled out for senior leaders across Shell. The programme was designed to reinforce the level of commitment to ethics and compliance in senior leaders.

In 2020, we also developed a new decision-making framework to ensure that we continue to make ethical decisions in line with our Code of Conduct. The framework, which has been externally reviewed, will help staff to think through, in a structured way, the legal, ethical and external consequences of the various decisions they face in their daily work. We are launching the framework in 2021.

Supply chain

In 2020, we took steps to strengthen and simplify our approach to working with suppliers and contractors amid COVID-19 uncertainties. For example, we adapted our due diligence assessments to ensure partners that look to save costs do not compromise ethical conduct. We also produced additional COVID-19 guidance for employees, highlighting potential corruption and money laundering risks in supply chain and relief donations.

Speaking up

Shell employees, contractors and any third party can report any potential breaches of the Code of Conduct confidentially and anonymously through several channels, including a global helpline, operated by an independent provider.

Shell has specialists who investigate concerns or allegations about a breach of our Code of Conduct. If a breach is substantiated, the relevant Shell company will take appropriate action up to and including a contract termination or dismissal. We maintain a stringent no retaliation policy to protect any person making an allegation in good faith.

Living by our principles

Shell global helpline

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Reports to the helpline

Code of Conduct

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Confirmed breaches of the Code of Conduct

Taking action

People – forbidden (icon)

Employees or contractor staff subject to disciplinary action

Taking action

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People dismissed

Continuous screening

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5.1 million

Counterparties screened for trade compliance, anti-bribery, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering on an ongoing basis

Enhanced compliance reviews

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Enhanced pre-screenings for higher-risk contracts