Business Ethics

Our purpose to Enhance Society Together guides what we do and how we do it. We are committed to do our business responsibly, acting ethically and with transparency. We respect the local laws, cultural norms and practices of our working environments while adhering to our own ethical standards. The independence that comes from being a partly employee-owned and independent company is reflected in our work. Decent behaviour and integrity are integral to our culture, rooted in our vision, mission and core values. They are communicated through our Code of Conduct (PDF) which, together with our Compliance Integrity Management System (CIMS) and Compliance Programme, defines and assures ethical conduct.


Our Corporate Governance structure safeguards the principles of Royal HaskoningDHV operating as an independent private limited company. It creates a sustainable platform to deliver value to our people, our clients and society at large.

The Executive Board has ultimate responsibility for implementing and applying our Code of Conduct, together with our Compliance Integrity Management System (CIMS) and Compliance Programme. The Compliance Department, management teams of the business lines, corporate groups and operating entities are responsible for ensuring all employees are familiar with and adhere to the CIMS. Directors and controllers sign an annual letter of representation acknowledging their responsibility for the Code of Conduct for their business line, corporate group or operating entity.

The Compliance Department consists of the Group Compliance Officer and Local Compliance Officers, appointed in each country where we have local operations. The Group Compliance Officer reports monthly on developments, challenges, and integrity cases to the Executive Board. The Supervisory Board is informed quarterly about developments in the compliance programme and high-risk integrity cases. Once a year, the Group Compliance Officer is invited to a Supervisory Board meeting to discuss the Compliance Programme. The Group Compliance Officer has a reporting line to both the CEO and the Chair of the Supervisory Board if there are reasons to escalate concerns.

Royal HaskoningDHV has a Risk Assessment Board. It evaluates (potential) projects with a high-risk profile. It ensures all aspects of the potential project have been reviewed, experts from corporate groups have been consulted, and specific elements have been identified, evaluated, mitigated, or considered acceptable.

The Internal Audit function provides additional assurance. Its priorities are defined in an annual audit plan approved by the Audit Committee. These could include integrity or compliance-related risks.

Core values

Our ethical standards are brought to life through our people. It is important that everyone is clear about acceptable behaviour in the workplace and in business activities, particularly where we are operating in countries with poor records on human rights or corruption. 

People first

We are a people company, independent and partly employee-owned. We care about our colleagues, clients and society. We cherish the freedom to make long-term choices striving to find solutions to improve the lives of people all around the globe. We foster a culture of respect, safety and inclusion, where we actively listen, discuss and embrace new perspectives, because we  believe this is the basis for a successful and sustainable company.

Explore the (im)possible

We go the extra mile to solve our clients’ most pressing challenges and enhance society. We act today while thinking about tomorrow. We challenge the status quo and embrace change. We zoom out and address the question behind the question to truly understand what problem needs to be solved. We combine data and digital technologies with our deep domain knowledge. We experiment and learn from past experiences to find the best solutions.

Grow together

Our clients’ success is our success. We invest in building trusted partnerships. We team up to unite talent and expertise across our company and beyond. We take charge of our personal and professional growth and motivate others to do the same.

Lead by example

We act with integrity and in compliance with our Code of Conduct. We take responsibility for our own behaviour, provide feedback and hold each other accountable. We seek clarity on what is expected of us and prioritise wisely in order to add the best value for our clients and our company.

With values increasingly being tested in this fast-changing world, we released our new Code of Conduct (PDF) in 2023 which replaces the previous Global Code of Business Principles.

The Code of Conduct helps us to better navigate these challenges. It sets a high standard with 12 ethical principles on how we must behave to do our business responsibly and 4 values on how we aspire to behave.

12 Ethical Principles

  1. We behave appropriately and treat each other with respect

  2. We promote equality, diversity, and inclusion

  3. We speak up and do not retaliate

  4. We do not accept any form of corruption such as bribery, fraud or money laundering

  5. We never influence a result by offering or accepting gifts, hospitality or other benefits

  6. We compete fairly and within the law

  7. We respect human rights and local labour and employment legislation

  8. We are committed to quality, health, safety and the environment

  9. We avoid conflicts of interest

  10. We follow privacy legislation

  11. We are committed to the highest standard of information security relevant for our industry

  12. We respect and protect intellectual property and confidential information

Compliance Integrity Management System

We believe that integrity is built on a common set of expectations and by having an open and honest culture. Our integrity policy is embedded throughout the company. Our Compliance Integrity Management System, which is part of our Integrated Management System, has been audited and certified since 2010.

Training and raising awareness are an essential part of the compliance programme. Guidance documents, knowledge shares, integrity moments, training sessions and e-learning modules all ensure awareness and knowledge of compliance related matters. All our new joiners as part of their onboarding process complete the mandatory e-learning on the Code of Conduct. An annual integrity and compliance risk assessment forms part of the prevent-detect-and-remediate cycle. The review is enriched with contributions from our local compliance officers.

We have a zero-tolerance policy for bribery and corruption and aim to meet international best practice standards in anti-corruption compliance and business ethics. In October 2023, we were assessed and re-certified as meeting the ISO 37001 standard for our Anti Bribery Management System as well as meeting the ISO 37301 standard for our Compliance Integrity Management System (both held since 2020).

Our Code of Conduct is embedded in our standard contract templates and as such we share our ethical principles on integrity and compliance with our clients, suppliers and subcontractors and ask for their commitment as well. Since 2020, new clients undergo a third-party assessment (TPA) and suppliers are reviewed based on a risk assessment. This further improves control over our value chain. Group Compliance executes the TPAs focusing on compliance and integrity using systems from an analytics company. The assessment includes a review of ultimate beneficial owners, directors, sanctions and any negative media exposure. Based on the outcome of a TPA, specific procedures may apply including determining mitigating measures or ultimate approval from the Corporate Risk Assessment Board.

Further information on our Integrity and Ethical Performance in 2023 is available in the Integrity and Ethical Performance section.

UN Global Compact and Human Rights

We joined the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) more than a decade ago, supporting the Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. The UNGC asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in these areas. The Ten Principles are an integral part of our daily operations, incorporated into the Code of Conduct (PDF) for our people, clients, partners and suppliers. We show our commitment to the UNGC principles in tenders, offers and project selection processes and by communicating our progress in implementing the principles. These reports are available through our company page on the UNGC website.

When there is a potential challenge between a project and our core purpose and beliefs, we are guided by the:

Our aim is to be transparent and accountable, resolving conflicting issues through dialogue and working towards an acceptable solution. We maintain a multi-lingual third-party speak up line (whistle-blower) when greater confidentiality or anonymity is desired by the complainant. This is available internally through our intranet and externally on our website.

Upholding human rights is intrinsic to our purpose, which includes the theme of social value and equality. To affirm our commitment to respect human rights in the way we work and in our business relationships, we published a Human Rights Policy in 2023. This first version, which will be regularly reviewed, is available on our website.