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Corporate Responsibility at Serco

Our commitment

As a private sector company with global presence and a strong public sector bond, taking responsibility defines what we do and how we do it. We serve society on behalf of governments who trust us to provide public services, and citizens who trust us to take care of them in diverse circumstances. In this we are also trusted to serve as a responsible employer, partner, neighbour and investment.

Being a responsible business is about more than just meeting our minimum obligations. It is how we contribute and create sustainable value. It is the outcomes that define us, and how we achieve them. It is recognising that, to best protect the interests of any one group of stakeholders, we must determinedly embrace our responsibilities to all stakeholders.

From the boardroom to the frontline, we seek out opportunities to make a meaningful difference. Not because we are required to, but because it makes good business sense; because we are in a good position to make that difference; and because it is in our nature as a team of more than 50,000 people who share the same values and sense of purpose.

Our corporate responsibility framework structure

Our corporate responsibility (CR) framework is structured around our key stakeholders, focusing in particular on how we work to add sustainable value whilst delivering their requirements with accountability and transparency. It defines our principal areas of responsibility and helps to guide practice and behaviour whilst facilitating measurement of performance.

Our Values:

Our Values shape the way everyone in Serco works and behaves.

Behaving with integrity and treating people with respect:

We operate morally and ethically, with respect for human rights.

Our customers:

We are driven by our public service ethos to help our customers create positive outcomes for society.

Our people:

We are committed to enabling the development, wellbeing and safety of our people. 

Our world:

We strive to manage our impact on the communities, economies and environments in which we operate responsibly.

Our owners:

We are determined to protect our shareholders’ interests and create long-term, sustainable value for them.

Public service:

Everything we do is motivated by our desire to be a trusted partner of governments, delivering superb public services that transform outcomes and make a positive difference for our fellow citizens.

Our corporate responsibility governance

Our key responsibilities are recognised within our business strategy, for which the Serco plc Board has ultimate responsibility. For the areas identified in our CR framework, Board oversight and scrutiny is enabled through its standing committee, the Corporate Responsibility Committee (CRC).

The Terms of Reference for the Committee are available at: www.serco.com/about/the-board-and-governance

The Committee is comprised of both Executive and Non-Executive Directors. Mike Clasper was Board sponsor for CR in 2018 and chaired the CRC, reporting activity to the Board and raising specific issues for consideration and action. The CRC met three times in 2018 to review progress and performance across the framework.

Kirsty Bashforth was appointed Chair of the Committee following Mike Clasper’s decision to stand down from the Board, with effect from 1 January 2019. Newly-appointed Non-Executive Director, Eric Born was also appointed to the CRC with effect from 1 January 2019.

Members of the CRC are responsible for promoting our approach to CR and its effective implementation across the Group. This is agreed with the Executive Committee, which oversees its implementation.

Elements within the CR framework have designated Group Leads, responsible for engaging with Divisional Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to develop strategy, objectives and performance indicators, and monitoring and reporting performance to the Executive Committee and CRC.

Each Divisional Executive Management Team (EMT) incorporates appropriate elements into their operational and strategic plans. Delivery and performance are reported to Divisional EMTs and Group Leads for review, consolidation and Group reporting. As of 2018, each Division also has a CR lead nominated by the Divisional EMT.

Our Serco Management System

The Serco Management System (SMS) is our management framework. It describes how we do business and defines the rules governing how we operate, behave and deliver our strategy, including all areas covered by our CR framework.

At the heart of the SMS are:

  • 16 Group policy statements, owned by Group Functional Directors, signed by the Group Chief Executive and approved by the plc Board. They define our strategic commitments and apply across the Group;
  • 24 Group standards, approved by the Executive Committee. They define the minimum standards we must achieve, focusing on mandatory requirements applicable across the Group; and
  • 45 Group Standard Operating Procedures, owned by functional subject matter experts and approved by the Executive Committee. They provide consistent procedures to address key areas of control that are applied across the Group.

Country, Divisional and Local operating procedures build on these foundations within the SMS, providing direction on how to achieve mandatory requirements and comply with relevant laws and regulations in the countries where we operate. Operating procedures are sensitive to local customs, traditions and cultures.

All elements of the SMS are subject to a schedule of regular review to ensure they meet our needs and are up-to-date, relevant and appropriate.

Employee and manager responsibilities regarding SMS compliance are clearly defined and all employees complete appropriate SMS, Code of Conduct and Values training on joining Serco and periodically during their employment. Our Group Consequence Management Standard defines how instances of non-compliance are managed.

To provide management assurance, a ‘three lines of defence’ model has been implemented to test business compliance. Each level of assurance informs our risk management process and the delivery of local, regional and Group improvements.

1st line of defence:

At an operational level, local controls are implemented to ensure customer, legal and regulatory requirements are met. In addition, an annual SMS self-assessment process is undertaken by all contracts and support functions across the Group which helps managers increase their understanding of SMS requirements and improve compliance with SMS controls by completing actions for any areas of non-compliance identified.

2nd line of defence:

A programme of Division-led retrospective compliance assurance reviews test compliance with SMS controls and risk management processes. Reviews against the SMS are carried out at contract, Business Unit and Divisional levels.

3rd line of defence:

Internal Audit provides independent review (sometimes delivered by independent external parties) of the design and operating effectiveness of our controls. External Audit is also used to test control effectiveness in areas of the business where there is a customer or legal requirement.

Our Code of Conduct

Our Code of Conduct helps us to drive continuous and consistent responsibility and behaviours across our organisation. Based on our Values, it forms part of the SMS, clearly and concisely defining our expectations of operational and behavioural compliance.

Our Code applies to everyone who works for and on behalf of Serco, regardless of role, location and background, and confirms what they can expect of us as well as what we expect of them.

All Serco employees are expected to know, use and live our Code.

To support them, we:

  • provide a working environment where our Code and Values are actively supported;
  • do our best to make sure everyone who works for or with us understands and complies with our Code;
  • encourage everyone to seek help and advice if they are unsure about what to do or concerned that our Code is being violated;
  • provide confidential resources for everyone to get advice or report Code violations;
  • support and protect anyone who reports a violation or helps an investigation, and make certain there is no retaliation of any kind against them;
  • deal effectively with any concerns about conduct;
  • only work with customers and third parties who share our ethical standards;
  • put improvements into place quickly after we have identified them; and
  • remedy any wrongdoing we have identified as soon as possible.

Our progress and performance in 2018

We have:

  • developed a version of our Code of Conduct for short-term temporary workers;
  • revised our Supplier Code of Conduct, reinforcing our expectations of compliance regarding modern slavery in our supply chain; and
  • developed short briefing videos on gifts and hospitality and conflicts of interest, the first in a series on elements in our Code.

Our next steps

We will:

  • review the impact, effectiveness and accessibility of current Code of Conduct materials; and
  • refresh our approach to Code of Conduct training for new and existing employees.

Our Values

First and foremost, Serco lives by its Values.

Our culture is based on a set of four Values – Trust, Care, Innovation and Pride – that shape our individual behaviours and hence the way the Company behaves. They help to ensure we are all working from a commonly understood base that can be consistently applied across our organisation.

Our Values need to be lived every day, helping us work through any challenges we may face and recognise and celebrate our achievements. They guide us in our dealings with colleagues, customers, suppliers, partners, shareholders and the communities we serve.

Our Values are incorporated into the Serco Management System, our Code of Conduct and all existing channels, publications and resources. For example:

  • Our annual employee engagement survey, Viewpoint, and our premier programme of employee recognition, the Pulse Awards, are aligned to our Values, enabling us to measure values-based engagement and celebrate values-based behaviour.
  • Our Values are integrated into our Code of Conduct, Leadership Model and annual Performance and Development Review process, enabling us to clearly define our expectations of values-based behaviour and ensure they are met. Our bonus payment ‘Values gate’ enables us to reward performance aligned to our Values.
  • Our Values are also incorporated into our approach to recruitment, enabling us to recruit people who share our desire to make a positive difference and have the capacity and commitment to deliver the services our customers expect.

Alongside our ‘Speak Up’ whistleblowing process, these elements also enable us to regularly assess and reinforce our culture, as defined by our Values. Our Viewpoint Culture Index comprises engagement levels for each of the four Values and provides insight into our culture as perceived by our people (covering ethics, integrity and diversity and inclusion). Culture Index results inform annual engagement action planning and our Values strategy.

Our progress and performance in 2018

In addition to the ways in which our Values are embedded and reinforced continuously through Group systems and processes (see above), each Division is responsible for the ongoing promotion of our Values at the local level, driving them through employee communications, recognition schemes and engagement initiatives. Our 2018 employee engagement survey results indicate that employee perceptions of our Values remain similar to last year.


Key performance indicators

2017 2018  

Engagement survey results for ‘I understand Serco’s values’

81% 81 (avg. score)  

Viewpoint Values index: Trust

66% 71 (avg. score)  

Viewpoint Values index: Care

64% 70 (avg. score)  

Viewpoint Values index: Innovation

60% 67 (avg. score)  

Viewpoint Values index: Pride

60% 68 (avg. score)  

For additional data and performance commentary, including changes to our engagement scoring and our Viewpoint indices, see: Corporate Responsibility KPIs

Our next steps

We will continue to actively and regularly promote and reinforce our Values throughout the business whilst monitoring employee understanding and perceptions of how well they are lived. As required, we will respond with specific, focused and appropriate interventions.