Case study at-a-glance
ABB is a technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. The company’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered, and operated. Building on more than 130 years of excellence, ABB’s 105,000 employees are committed to driving innovations that accelerate industrial transformation.
ABB envisages a future where physical and digital worlds merge, making operations safer, more intelligent and more productive. By transforming industries, ABB is able to help to create a more prosperous and sustainable future, as sustainability is both the right thing to do and a business opportunity.
Roeland de Wit is the Head of Integrity Operations at ABB. In this role, he is responsible for the preventative side of compliance, ensuring appropriate policies and procedures, training, awareness, and communications across ABB’s employee base.
Petra Wyler is ABB’s Group Integrity Operations, managing global integrity projects, processes, and tools. Applying her analytical skills and commitment to effectiveness, Petra manages ABB’s Integrity Learning program which includes responsibility for the ABB Integrity Awareness Portal and Integrity Awareness Report, which measures the effectiveness of the Integrity program.
INTEGRITY: THE CORNERSTONE OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
ABB has a solid public commitment to fostering a culture of integrity and transparency across its operations. The company’s leadership team believes integrity is a prerequisite for a world-class business and ABB’s reputation as a trusted and reliable business partner.
Prior to 2019, ABB had a traditional view to its learning program. “Some people call it the push approach,” said de Wit. “We all know it—that old-school learning where companies push mandatory learning, employees are sent mass reminders, there are automated responses, and then a report of 98 to 99 percent completion rate. Boxes can be checked, and metrics shared in annual reports. We wanted to introduce a new way of learning.”
In December 2022, ABB announced a coordinated global settlement with several enforcement agencies, including the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission, and authorities in South Africa and Switzerland. As part of the settlement’s Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), ABB is in a three-year period of enhanced self-reporting.
“Training and employee awareness is part of our journey, core to good governance, and it is imperative we show authorities our commitment to integrity training, resources with detailed reporting and metrics,” said de Wit.
ABB has created a self-driven learning approach centered on integrity that has engaged its employees. Explains de Wit, “For our integrity learning, we didn’t want to check boxes; we wanted to introduce change behavior and transform culture. We worked with SAI360 to create something new—a portal experience which we created and shared with our employee base within six months.”
THE ‘NETFLIX’ OF LEARNING
ABB’s Integrity Awareness Portal went live in 2022. It’s available to every online employee, which is the majority of its 105,000-strong team and is available in 18 languages.
“As consumers, we are all familiar with digital streaming services portals, and we wanted to give our employees that experience for integrity self-development and learning,” Petra Wyler said. “I regularly hear employees describe our Integrity Awareness Portal as their ‘Netflix’ for self-development,” says de Wit.
“When active users log in, the Integrity Awareness Portal shows recommended asset playlists—courses, assets, and insights—specific to them, their role, and their interests. These recommendations are based on their preferences and artificial intelligence that learns and optimizes based on previous visits. Now, most of our employees—tens of thousands across the globe—are active users of the Integrity Awareness Portal.”
“Playlists give great functionality. Anytime we implement a new process or want to emphasize a specific topic, we can pull assets into a playlist and then share it with employees to let them know there’s a new playlist to familiarize them with a topic, process, and a learning opportunity,” Wyler adds.
ABB supplements its self-driven learning journey with mandatory training. “Mandatory training has its place with at-risk groups, gatekeeper roles, or implementing new processes. For example, our Code of Conduct is mandatory and foundational for every employee within ABB, including affiliates and subsidiaries,” explains Wyler. “This underpins the behavior ABB expects of each employee and stakeholder, based on our core business principles: responsibility, respect, and determination.”
ABB requires its extended enterprise—all third parties, business partners, consultants, and contractors, to follow the ABB Code of Conduct, currently available in 32 languages, on the ABB website, and via ABB’s Code of Conduct mobile application.
ABB’s Code of Conduct training and mobile application links to the company’s Integrity Awareness Portal.
“It was an important requirement for us that users can access content and learning when mobile, so content and guidance is available when they want and need it,” adds de Wit.
Supporting its integrity initiatives with analytics and real-time dashboards is vital. As de Wit explains, “At a glance, we see how many employees engaged, completed certain exercises, or accessed specific assets in the Integrity Awareness Portal. These metrics allow our management team to action insights to create further awareness and keep us committed to integrity and accountability. They are crucial for our period of enhanced self-reporting to global authorities.”
ABB’S LESSONS FROM SELF-LEARNING
”The Integrity Awareness Portal has reinforced our view that employees want to learn, apply new things, and drive their own development,” says Wyler. “As well as changing how content is delivered—via a self-service portal—we have also adopted shorter learnings via micro-learnings. So instead of training that could take 30 or 45 minutes, our content is two, five, or ten minutes. Language preference is recorded and applied automatically after selection, so users receive content in their native or preferred language.”
“Assets are in multiple formats, including written, audio, video, or animations, so learners are engaged. This does mean more assets to manage—we currently have 120 assets in the Integrity Awareness Portal, but because it makes recommendations and guides users, it’s simple for users. We never want our employees to log into a learning or training experience and feel overwhelmed, so we use technology, design, and planning to ensure that doesn’t happen,” adds Wyler.
Technology-wise, SAI360 has provided us with a partner that is ready to listen and collaborate. The SAI360 technology is a foundation that supports various assets from different sources: ABB-created content, SAI360 off-the-shelf content, SAI360 content we have customized, and content from other vendors.
WORKING WITH SAI360
What’s it like being an SAI360 customer? “When I joined ABB, our team and SAI360 had an existing contract and solid working relationship,” says de Wit. “We added new ideas and plans, and I was impressed by the agility of my team and SAI360 to quickly re-align and meet new business requirements. It was a great team effort, underpinned by a common understanding, having the right people and skills around the table, with a passion to deliver something we enjoy working on together.”
Continues de Wit, “Technology-wise, SAI360 has provided us with a partner that is ready to listen and collaborate. The SAI360 technology is a foundation that supports various assets from different sources: ABB-created content, SAI360 off-the-shelf content, SAI360 content we have customized, and content from other vendors.”
ABB has weekly check-ins and regular communication with their SAI360 account team, customer success, and SAI360 technical experts. These are complemented by longer, detailed review meetings and roadmap planning sessions. Says de Wit, “I appreciate how these meetings are two-way: it’s about what we want to achieve and insight into what SAI360 is working on, new learning topics and assets they are planning, a review of what might be of interest to us and where there are opportunities to collaborate on content.”
WHAT IS ABB’S LEARNING PATH?
ABB plans to combine the success and framework of its self-learning Integrity Awareness Portal with mandatory training. “We’re working on ideas and plans with SAI360 and our internal teams,” says de Wit. “Meanwhile, we are constantly thinking about how to innovate, enhance the employee learning journey—make the experience more intuitive, improve our playlists, increase engagement, and enhance our portal landing page. We know our employees enjoy the experience and want to be ready to offer more.”
Wyler adds, “Training and compliance are fundamental to an effective governance program. It’s the right way to do business. Giving our team the ability to drive their learning journey around integrity has been transformational, and we’re happy to be on this path with SAI360.”
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR BUSINESSES PLANNING A NEW LEARNING INITIATIVE?
- Start with change management. At ABB, any new process we implement goes hand-in-hand with anticipating, tracking, and managing the change. The introduction of any process will create change. At ABB, we’re passionate about change management and embrace it.
- Start early on the communication, awareness, and creating interest and desire. We worked with our communications team to build awareness ahead of the launch, so our employees were curious about the new portal we were creating before it launched. Create a sense of excitement and a pace.
- Be ambitious but realistic. We launched our Integrity Awareness Portal within six months from the ideation stage.
- Partner with a technology provider that will be part of your team. We have weekly check-ins with our SAI360 account team, contact with SAI360 technical experts whenever we need their input, and deep-dive roadmap and vision planning sessions.
- Metrics, metrics, and metrics. SAI360 gives us access to real-time insights, dashboards, and analytics powered by PowerBI. We have real-time metrics and dashboards for management—be ready to have data that provides insight and action.
- Clarity for users. All training and learning projects need simplicity for anyone expected to participate—employees and third parties. They need to know how to use it, why it’s important, what it means for their role, and what’s available to users. We created a toolkit to help guide users and equip team leaders.
- Feedback. It’s a two-way street, so ask your employees for feedback, ideas, and suggestions via surveys and communication engagement.