Company resources are primarily intended for business use. You are entrusted with CNP property in order to do your job. Each of us must safeguard CenterPoint Energy’s funds, records, tools, vehicles, equipment, supplies, and property. We are all expected to use company property and technology efficiently.
CNP has the right to monitor and inspect all information contained in our systems or on our property, including computers, telephone records, vehicles, lockers, e-mail, files, business documents, and workplaces. Do not expect privacy when using company property - wherever it is located.
You may occasionally use company resources, such as a photocopier, Internet, voice mail, faxes, computers, telephone service, or e-mail for personal use, provided that:
- Your manager approves your request in advance
- Your use of our property does not reduce its value
- You are not earning a personal profit through the use of our property, and
- Your use of our property is consistent with our values and this Code
Personal use of company property, equipment, or resources must never interfere with your job performance or our ability to deliver on our promises.
Computers and Technology
We use computers and technical equipment to handle large amounts of proprietary and sensitive information concerning our employees, vendors and customers. We protect our systems from unauthorized access by outsiders.
CNP has the right to review and monitor the information contained in our technology and communications systems. You are encouraged to use the Internet to do your job. However, the Internet – just like the telephone and other company property – should not be used at work to support a personal business or political venture.
QUESTION: A couple of times a day, not more than a few minutes at a time, I check the Internet to look at the weather report and follow the stock market. Does this violate our policies?
ANSWER: Your limited use of the Internet sounds reasonable – provided that your supervisor approves.
Some content should never be sent or received on our systems:
- Sexually explicit messages, cartoons, images, or jokes
- Profanity or obscenity
- Intimidating or offensive material based on race, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, creed, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, marital status, or status as a veteran
- Personal opinions masquerading as company positions
Remember these key points:
- You should not expect privacy when using CNP’s equipment or technology.
- Safeguard your passwords and follow all directions about computer security.
- Use only properly licensed software and follow the terms of all licenses
You may come across confidential information about our company, employees, customers, business partners, or suppliers. Our relationships with these groups are based on trust. You must keep all proprietary and private information in confidence.
You may share confidential information only with those who have a legitimate need to know. The duty to protect confidential information continues even after you leave our employment. We respect other organizations’ information and ask that you not reveal confidential information obtained in the course of your prior employment. CNP employees should not be assigned duties that would require them to use a prior employer’s confidential information.
QUESTION: My supervisor asked me to disclose some confidential information to one of our consultants. What should I do?
ANSWER: Confidential information can only be disclosed to a third party when a fully executed Confidentiality Agreement is in place. Discuss the situation with your supervisor to make sure that the consultant has agreed not to disclose our information.
You may have access to CenterPoint Energy’s confidential or proprietary information that must be protected from disclosure.
- Customer or consumer data
- Financial Information
- Business strategies and plans
- Intellectual property
- Organizational charts, salaries, and details of personnel-related issues
Talk with your supervisor or any manager if you have questions about how to handle confidential company information.
Employee information is confidential and should only be used for valid business purposes and in compliance with the law. This includes personnel file information, medical records, social security numbers, home addresses, and telephone numbers. We respect the confidentiality of our employees’ personal information. Access to personal data is limited to those who are authorized and have a clear business need to know.
QUESTION: Your cousin asks you to give her a list of the names and phone numbers of your customer contacts. She is starting a new financial counseling service, and thinks that CNP’s customers would really appreciate learning about what she has to offer. Can you help her out?
ANSWER: No. Our customer lists are confidential, and should not be shared with anyone – not even a close family member.
QUESTION: Is it OK to use the company’s photocopier to help a charity that I support? It is only 50 copies of materials for an upcoming meeting.
ANSWER: You should check with your supervisor first to see if this limited use is OK.
Our intellectual property includes trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, technical and business knowledge, know-how, and expertise. Our intellectual property is among our most valuable assets.
Here are some examples of CNP’s intellectual property:
- Market research data, notebooks, and results
- Software development processes
- Business analyses and plans
- Plant layouts, engineering designs, and blueprints
- Technical drawings and plans
- Marketing strategies
Each of us is responsible for protecting CenterPoint Energy’s intellectual property and reporting infringements. We do not share business ideas, projects, or plans with anyone who does not have a legitimate need to know. Any invention or improvement that you create while working here belongs to CNP, and must be disclosed to the Intellectual Property Review Team.
Other companies also protect their intellectual property. We respect their rights. We do not tolerate the unauthorized copying or disclosure of another’s intellectual property. You may use other people’s information only if you have received their consent or if this information is publicly available without restriction.