Ken Daly (pictured right) is President of the New York business of National Grid, which serves 4 million natural gas and electric customers in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island and Upstate New York. Over his 28-year career with National Grid and its predecessor companies, he has previously served as Global Financial Controller, CFO of US/UK gas distribution businesses, and in various positions in Customer Relations, Finance and Human Resources. In the following article, Daly shares his philosophies on “Doing the Right Thing”.
Achievements do not happen by accident. The big ones, especially, take work, perseverance, determination and a plan. At National Grid, we are proud to stand among other Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Companies, and happy to be able to share that distinction with our customers and other stakeholders. We also know what it took to get here (lots of the traits I just described) and what it will take to stay. And we are committed to making that happen.
What I learned in grade school
My personal commitment as an ethical leader is to bring my values to the workplace and stick to them. And I encourage all employees to do the same. Not surprisingly, some of these values go all the way back to grade school and the way I was raised.
My parents and teachers drilled into me a bunch of philosophies and practices I apply to this day. First, “Have the courage to stand alone,” even if the crowd isn’t on your side; and second, “Always be yourself.”
At the end of the day—every day—you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and feel like you have been the person you want to be.
These are the traits I want to bring to work each day. And these are the values I feel fortunate to experience, and be inspired by, every day at National Grid.
How did we get here?
I have been with National Grid, and its legacy companies before that, for 28 years. I have worked in areas ranging from Customer Relations to Human Resources to Finance before assuming my current role as Jurisdiction President for our New York State business five years ago. And I have worked everywhere from Brooklyn, New York to London in the United Kingdom.
Like my other long-time colleagues, I have seen a lot of changes over the years. But I can point, without hesitation, to one thing that has not changed, and that is our unwavering commitment to building, nurturing and sustaining an ethical culture.
Ethics is at the heart of our company’s values.
We recognize that we could not achieve our ethical reputation without the commitment of our employees, and we encourage and expect every employee to “do the right thing” every day. We know this is not a sprint, but a journey, and we are set to continue along our ethical path by focusing on what I call the “four Cs”:
- Code of Conduct: National Grid has a comprehensive code of conduct across our US and UK business that clearly spells out what “Always Doing the Right Thing” (and not doing the right thing) looks like.
- Communication: The company goes to great lengths to regularly communicate our ethical policies, real-life case studies and employee success stories to individuals throughout the organization. We have many avenues, including articles on our internal Infonet, videos, posters, emails and, of course, face-to-face interactions, which are central in demonstrating our commitment. We also make sure every employee knows that he or she can contact our internal Ethics & Compliance Office or our external, confidential Ethics Hotline with their questions or concerns.
- Community: Our commitment to Always Doing the Right Thing extends beyond how we conduct business inside the company. It is also about how we care for our customers and communities through volunteer activities, energy efficiency programs, emergency response and more.
- Commitment: One of the most important keys to our success is an uncompromising commitment to ethics from the top of our organization down. We expect our leaders to promote and role model Always Doing the Right Thing. We also expect them to listen to all employee concerns raised in the “speak up” culture we foster. “If you see something, say something” is our message to employees. And our commitment from leaders is to hear, respond and take action as appropriate, all in a timely way.
Are we perfect? Of course not
Like all companies (and people), we have made mistakes along the way. But there are two things that make me most proud of the way we operate at National Grid.
First, our track record shows that we almost always do follow the right, fair path. And second, when we have faltered, we have done our best to own up to it, make it right, learn from our errors, share lessons learned with employees, then move on in a healthier direction.
But our people make it work
Our US Ethics Liaison Network helps us do all that and more. I have had the privilege to serve as Executive Sponsor for this group for the past four years.
Over its life, the group has grown from a handful of people to more than 60 employees throughout the company.
Our Ethics Liaisons are trusted coworkers across National Grid who act as communication conduits between their respective business areas and our Ethics & Compliance Office. These are people other employees can feel comfortable going to with ethical dilemmas. They are people who can either provide answers or direct their coworkers to the right resources or professionals. As a result of these conscientious individuals, we have more employees stepping up with their questions and concerns—in a familiar, non-threatening environment.
My “Top 10” business principles
Every one of us has an obligation to behave ethically. To keep my team focused, I have 10 principles I strive to demonstrate as I run the New York business:
- Always do the right thing
- Create the right culture
- Lead with safety
- Understand your stakeholders’ perspective
- Customer interactions are “moments of truth”
- Always raise problems early
- Play for tomorrow, not yesterday
- Stay the course for the future
- “Walk the talk”
- Social responsibility is not an option, it is an obligation!
I hope what I have shared gives you some insight into our organization, and food for thought for your business.
Ken Daly grew up in the Gerritsen Beach neighborhood, attending the parish school at Resurrection Church and went on to Brooklyn Technical High School, St. Francis College (SFC) and then on to St. John’s University and Polytechnic University, where he earned two master’s degrees. He has been with National Grid for more than 20 years, holding numerous positions in finance, human resources and customer relations.
Daly achieved the distinguished Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2002, an investment professional standard that is globally recognized. Recently he was selected as one of the David Rockefeller Fellows for 2011-2012, a program sponsored by the Partnership for New York City. Read more about Daly here.