Regardless of whether your organization is legally mandated to have a code (as public companies are), every organization should have one. A code of conduct has value as both an internal guideline and an external statement of corporate values and commitments.
A well-written code of conduct clarifies an organization’s mission, values and principles and clearly spells out to both leaders and employees the standard’s and professional conduct expected of them. It’s a great way to show customers, vendors and all stakeholders what is important to the organization and what will not be compromised.
If your company has a set of ethical standards, how is its message articulated and how much value is placed on its content? Organizations that preach integrity, transparency and good governance should be held to a higher standard than those that don’t.
How does a Code of Ethics/Conduct add value?
- It will become the central guide and reference point for managers and employees alike that supports day-to-day decision making
- It sets the tone and standards by which leaders and employees will be assessed
- It empowers them to handle ethical dilemmas they may encounter every day at work
- It holds management and staff accountable to conduct themselves professionally, fairly and ethically against a clear set of guidelines
- Compliance: Public companies are required by law to implement Codes of Ethic. However, all companies will benefit by having clearly defined business ethics when it comes to matters of compliance
- Marketing: A code demonstrates to the outside world how serious the company is about setting high standards and right conduct
- Risk Mitigation: Organizations with codes of ethics can reduce the financial risks associated with government fines for ethical misconduct by demonstrating they have made a “good faith effort” to prevent illegal acts
Practically though, be careful that your Code of Conduct is not merely a nicely put together booklet that means little or nothing to the management and staff. If so, the integrity of your business will suffer and your company will be labelled as hypocritical and deceptive.
John Maxwell, wrote a book called, “There’s no such thing as Business Ethics”. John very rightfully shared that ethics should not be something we adhere to only in the business world but it should be an intrinsic part of everyone’s DNA. It’s built on the golden rule that states: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”.
How wonderful would our company cultures be if all leaders practiced the codes they promised to uphold and if all employees followed suit? Employee engagement would be at its highest and productivity would sky rocket!
If your company does not have a Code of Conduct/Ethics, contact us and we will show you how to implement and execute principles to drive your success.