Our Governance Structure & Management Systems

Norfolk Southern employees are guided by a core set of values built on safety, performance, integrity, respect, innovation, and teamwork. We base decisions on doing the right thing.

A vision for safety, service, success
Norfolk Southern‘s corporate policies and procedures are designed to guide our economic, environmental, and social performance toward a straightforward and uncompromising vision:

To be the safest, most customer-focused, and successful transportation company in the world.

A corporate SPIRIT of core values
At Norfolk Southern, our good name stands at the heart of who we are and have been for 186 years. Our people, customers, communities, and stockholders are important to us, and strong relationships with each of these groups are vital to our success.

A set of core values, called SPIRIT values, define behaviors that are key to fulfilling our corporate creed and vision statement. These SPIRIT values – Safety, Performance, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork – provide a framework of expectations for employee conduct.

Safety: We put safety first by taking care of the people around us and following the rules.
Performance: We are performance-driven and committed to providing quality customer service. We act on facts and are accountable for results.
Integrity: We do the right thing. We are open, fair, honest, and straightforward.
Respect: We believe in the importance of all of our stakeholders. We value the ideas and beliefs of our co-workers.
Innovation: We constantly seek new ideas and creative solutions to business challenges.
Teamwork: We believe that working together always produces the best results.

A code of ethics supports values
The Thoroughbred Code of Ethics builds upon the SPIRIT values by providing us with a mutual understanding of how our directors, officers, and employees are expected to conduct themselves.

Policies and procedures
Our corporate policies and procedures address topics related to economic, environmental, and social performance, offering detailed guidance for implementation of the SPIRIT values and our code of ethics.

We are committed to protecting the quality of the environment for employees, customers, and communities. It is our policy to ensure that every employee is trained in and fully understands the environmental requirements of their job, and is responsible and accountable for conducting work activities in a manner that meets or exceeds applicable environmental compliance standards.

Our policies help protect the environmental quality of the company’s real estate assets through sound management of land, water, and other property resources. Our policy is to comply fully with applicable laws and regulations related to protecting the environment and transporting environmentally sensitive materials. We cooperate fully with all governmental authorities charged with protecting the environment or with regulating transportation of hazardous materials. It is our policy to ensure that appropriate public agencies are informed about any incident relating to our operations that has the potential to cause harm to surrounding communities and the environment.

We strive to minimize waste through activities such as recycling, reduced consumption of energy, greater use of environmentally preferred materials, and use of nonpolluting technologies, procedures, and work practices.

Our key objectives
Norfolk Southern‘s procedures require that corporate activities be handled in accordance with our policy objectives and comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Overriding procedural objectives to implement these policies include:

  • protecting people and communities
  • protecting the environment
  • budgeting for environmental quality
  • anticipating legislative impacts on current operations

To ensure continuing improvement, reduction of pollution, and achievement of these policy objectives, appropriate processes for measuring performance, reporting environmental information, and evaluating environmental effects have been implemented.

We expect each employee to regard this effort to attain environmental quality as a personal and a corporate responsibility. In addition, employees at all levels of the company have specific responsibilities for implementing our environmental policy. Norfolk Southern’s corporate policies and procedures are made available to employees on the company’s ethics and compliance intranet site.

Safety is good business
We are committed to the principle that safety is good business and that all employees should be provided a safe working environment.

Our employee safety record demonstrates our commitment. For 23 consecutive years, our operations workforce earned the E. H. Harriman Award gold medal for maintaining the best safety record among the largest North American railroads. While that award was discontinued after the presentation of 2011 results, we continue as an industry leader in safety.

We believe that the overall safety and health of our employees is in the best interests of each employee and the company. All of our people are expected to promote safety, as it is both a personal and a corporate responsibility.

Our safety policy centers on the following six tenets:

  • All injuries can be prevented.
  • All exposures can be safeguarded.
  • Prevention of injuries and accidents is the responsibility of each employee.
  • Training is essential for good safety performance.
  • Safety is a condition of employment.
  • Safety is good business.

A proactive approach to safety
Norfolk Southern promotes a proactive safety process. The process aims to:

  • Minimize safety and health risk factors to our employees and the communities in which we operate by employing safe and appropriate technologies, programs, and operating procedures
  • Educate our employees about safety and health risk factors in their workplaces
  • Evaluate procedures and work practices to minimize potential employee exposures and improve safety in the workplace
  • Inform the affected public about incidents relating to company operations that pose general safety or health hazards
  • Comply with applicable laws, regulations, and rules related to safety and health in all of our business activities
  • Cooperate with all regulatory authorities charged with protecting the safety and health of the public and our employees

Our company has an Operations Division Safety and Service Steering Committee that is responsible for interpretation of Norfolk Southern’s safety policy. In addition, all department vice presidents are responsible for the implementation and administration of the policy in their respective departments, and each employee is accountable for complying with it.

Safeguarding the environment
Norfolk Southern has numerous internal management systems in place to ensure reasonable responsible management of environmental compliance matters and corporate sustainability initiatives.

Formal corporate policies and procedures form the building blocks of this system. Norfolk Southern’s “Our World Our Choice” environmental reference manual summarizes how the company manages its environmental systems to ensure local supervisors understand their responsibilities. Training in various forms, including classroom instruction and hands-on exercises, is a large part of our internal management system. Employees accompany environmental personnel during inspections and audits of yards and terminals.

Our “Sentinel” program provides intensive hazardous material awareness and response training to select supervisory personnel. We also provide annual training of personnel as required by our various environmental permits and plans, and we periodically distribute training materials that are displayed on safety bulletin boards across the system to enhance awareness of current environmental, hazardous material, safety, and security topics of interest.

Regulatory environment governs rail operations
In a business world subject to government regulation, we take a proactive approach to fully comply with the rules, participate in the political process, and manage business risks.

Like all U.S. rail freight transportation companies, Norfolk Southern is subject to significant governmental regulation and legislation over commercial, environmental, and operating matters. We must adhere to commercial regulations issued by the Surface Transportation Board, which has jurisdiction over some routes, some fuel surcharges, some conditions of service, the extension or abandonment of rail lines, and rail mergers and acquisitions. Railroads also are subject to safety and security regulation by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Homeland Security.

Norfolk Southern’s operations must comply with extensive environmental laws and regulations concerning, among other things, emissions to the air; discharges to waterways or groundwater; handling, storage, transportation, and disposal of waste and other materials; and the cleanup of hazardous material or petroleum releases.

Our management practices are focused on compliance with these various regulations and on handling operating risks in a responsible manner.

Government relations program monitors the political process
The political process significantly impacts Norfolk Southern through government policies, legislation, and regulatory decisions. As a result, our board of directors believes it is in the best interests of Norfolk Southern and our stockholders to participate in the political process by engaging in a government relations program.

The government relations program seeks to educate and inform public officials about issues important to our business, and it supports public officials and candidates whose views match those of Norfolk Southern. By doing so, we further public policy goals that are consistent with the sustainability of our business and values.

Please click here for more information about Norfolk Southern’s government relations program, including information about our political contributions.

Compliance with antitrust laws
U.S. antitrust laws, enacted to promote free and fair competition, regulate what Norfolk Southern and its employees can do when acting alone or with our competitors.

Our policy is to comply fully with all applicable federal and state antitrust laws. No officer or employee is permitted or authorized to take any action inconsistent with the antitrust laws or to permit or order others to take such action.

Application of antitrust laws to particular facts is rarely simple, particularly in the railroad industry, where connecting railroads must work together to move customers’ freight. Whenever any officer or employee believes that proposed activity raises antitrust questions, they are instructed to contact our law department, where designated attorneys can assist to ensure that we comply with the law and company policy. In 2012, there were no findings of antitrust violations by Norfolk Southern.

Managing business risks
Various risks and challenges are inherent to the operation of rail freight transportation companies, including Norfolk Southern. Current information about our most significant risk factors is available in the company’s annual report on Form 10-K for 2012 (pages K13 through K16), as supplemented by the company’s subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. These are available on the company’s website. We have practices and policies to manage and mitigate the effects of all these potential risks, including climate change.

We strive to minimize waste through activities such as recycling, reduced consumption of energy, greater use of environmentally preferred materials, and use of nonpolluting technologies, procedures, and work practices

GRI indicators

These indicators from the 2013 report are addressed on this page

4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 S07
site map  /  reports archive  /  ns sustainability home  © 2013 Norfolk southern

sustainability in action:

Creative thinking reduces energy use – and costs

Through our InnovatioNS program, Norfolk Southern encourages employees to look for ways to make their work safer, more efficient, and more cost effective. Brian Thomas’ ingenuity has saved the company money and contributed to its sustainability efforts. read more >

sustainability in action:

Committed to a greener workplace

Employees at Norfolk Southern have embraced the railroad’s sustainability efforts. At many locations across the system, employees such as Emily Hunter have taken the initiative to launch recycling and other green initiatives. read more >

sustainability in action:

A Norfolk Southern ‘River Star’

Ray Jones, a 32-year railroader, is committed to helping Norfolk Southern meet its pledge to be a good corporate neighbor and environmental steward. read more >

Creative thinking reduces energy use – and costs

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Committed to a greener workplace

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A Norfolk Southern ‘River Star’

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See all of our sustainability in action case studies

sustainability in action:

Keeping locomotives moving down the track

Norfolk Southern is continually looking for ways to increase the efficiency and productivity of operations. Devina Miller has played a key role in a Mechanical Department initiative dubbed Mission Critical. read more >

Keeping locomotives moving down the track

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See all of our sustainability in action case studies

sustainability in action:

A little effort, a lot of food for those in need

To strengthen the communities our railroad serves, Norfolk Southern promotes and supports employee volunteerism. Many employees, like Amanda Carpenter, volunteer their time, treasure, and talents to build community connections. read more >

sustainability in action:

Building community partnerships

Norfolk Southern strives to be a good corporate citizen. The railroad routinely partners with local, state, and federal government officials on projects that benefit communities and the country. Employees such as Ed Sites and David Dize are the ones who make these partnerships work. read more >

sustainability in action:

In pursuit of a dream

Norfolk Southern ensures that employees have ample opportunities to develop their skills and advance their careers. Jerome Perry is taking advantage of an NS program to further his education. read more >

sustainability in action:

Where good health meets good deeds

As part of its employee wellness program, dubbed WellNS, Norfolk Southern in 2011 introduced Power Train, an initiative that combines physical fitness and charitable giving. Misty Braden organized a Power Train team in Knoxville to help fund breast cancer research after a colleague was diagnosed with the disease. read more >

sustainability in action:

Partnering for safety

Safely operating our railroad is Norfolk Southern’s No. 1 priority. In addition to efforts to keep our employees safe on the job, we partner with communities in various ways to promote public safety. Employees Richard Vaughan and Greg Valentine demonstrate that commitment. read more >

A little effort, a lot of food for those in need

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Building community partnerships

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In pursuit of a dream

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Where good health meets good deeds

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Partnering for safety

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See all of our sustainability in action case studies