EO 005 – Elsabe Smit

BHP Billiton
Manager: Services

Why did you attend this course?
I attended the Ethics Officer Certification Program because I am the Ethics Officer for BHP Billiton’s Southern African region and I wanted to develop my own personal ethics training infrastructure. The company sent me on this course for various reasons, but mainly because our organisation supports King II and its Corporate Governance obligations, as well as complying with global ethical standards. As you know, BHP Billiton is the largest global resources company in the world and our company’s reputation is extremely important to our stakeholders and investors.

Our group’s Global Ethics Panel is based in Melbourne and it was important for me to attend the course as we communicate knowledge about our Business Code of Ethics to all levels within our organisation. The role of the Ethics officer is to effectively reduce risk, vulnerabilities and negative exposures through effective ethics management and training and the course material assisted me to achieve these objectives.

This is an important aspect for our company, as we base our business principles and goals on honesty, fairness and integrity. We place great importance on taking responsibility for our actions, earn trust and respect, and above all, to deliver on commitments. By attending this course, I was empowered to communicate practical examples of how to behave while at your place of work and to advance ethical practices within our organisation.

How did this course benefit you personally?
I was a different person after the course ! I felt enriched and empowered to transfer the knowledge and experience I have accumulated during the course to all the employees in our organisation. The course provided me with a solid reference base to work from. I had access to the course material in cd-format, which allowed me to source some of the material for our internal newsletter and to share that knowledge with other employees in the group.

The course gave me the confidence and self-motivation to do my job, as Ethics officer, in a professional way. I now had so many answers to so many questions, which I didn’t have before, and I encouraged people to debate the sensitivities surrounding social responsibility and the sustainability of our personal, as well as our organisation’s goals and values.

How is it benefiting your company?
BHP Billiton is an organisation that believes in Skills Development and Training. We encourage our employees to attend seminars that will broaden their knowledge base, especially if it pertains to important issues which concerns all of our employees, such as ethics, and not just a technical issue which may be of relevance to a smaller group of people. The Ethics Institute of South Africa is extremely well respected in the corporate world, and the course covered a wide range of corporate governance issues which are very important to a company such as BHP Billiton. The Ethics Institute of South Africa took the lead and were the first to present a course like this, which illustrated leadership in challenging corporate organisations to meet the demands of ethical business behaviour.

Elsabe would be happy to share her enthusiasm with potential course participants. Please contact her at elsabe.smit@bhpbilliton.com