The Eller College Continues Ethics Work with Major Mining Company

March 9, 2020

In order to enjoy long-term commercial success in the marketplace, a company must demonstrate a strong ethical culture. But how does a mining company go about establishing an ethical culture? Paul Melendez, professor and founder of the Center for Leadership Ethics in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, teamed up with Fresnillo, the world’s largest producer of silver and Exequiel Rolón, sustainability manager at Fresnillo to enhance the ethics culture within the company. Since then, several steps have been taken in order to really immerse the company in this initiative, which is called the Step Up Culture.

In 2017, Melendez along with Lehman Benson, McCoy/Rogers Fellow of Management and Organizations, Aleks Ellis, the Stephen P. Robbins Chair in Organizational Behavior and management and organizations department head, and Stephen Gilliland (formerly at Eller, now a professor at Claremont Graduate University) trained executives and managers from Fresnillo in masterclasses which they then turned into ethics workshops for the rest of the employees at Fresnillo.

“Lehman and I traveled to various locations in Mexico including Torreon, Zacatecas and Hermosillo to deliver these eight-hour courses to the employees,” says Melendez. More than 200 people in leadership roles were eventually trained, and more than 40 ethics workshops were delivered to close to 800 Fresnillo staff members. Afterward, the Center for Leadership Ethics and Eller Executive Education created the Ethical Culture Assessment which measured the ethical culture and work climate at Fresnillo.

“Operating with ethics and integrity is at the heart of Fresnillo plc purpose, which promises ‘To contribute to the wellbeing of people through the sustainable mining of silver and gold,’ which is why we are proud to be named for the first time as one of the 2020 World’s Most Ethical Companies,” says Fresnillo CEO, Octavio Alvídrez.

The third part of this three-year project that has been in the works is the development of an Ethics and Integrity Competence e-book which will be used as an online training by other facilitators and coordinators at Fresnillo. Due in 2020, the e-book will help train other employees in the industry online.

“Evidence of Fresnillo’s ethical culture can be found in the fact that it is the only Mexican company that is part of the London Stock Exchange,” says Melendez. “We are continuing to work on implementing the Step Up Culture and are using the successes and positive outcomes at Fresnillo as a platform to identify opportunities with other businesses within Grupo BAL.”

Melendez  will also be writing a sustainability case on Fresnillo that will be used as a case study to reinforce some of the important values and priorities that Fresnillo has for its business, which will be used both in the classroom and in consulting work with Fresnillo.