Simply put, a Code of Conduct explains the expectations of employee's actions and how they positively, or negatively affect a company's assets and reputation.
Or, what the expectation is of appropriate workplace behaviour.
A Code of Conduct outlines specific behaviours that are required or prohibited as a condition of ongoing employment.
Not every Code of Conduct is going to read exactly the same way. Every industry has its own specific types of rules and regulations.
A hospital's Code of Conduct isn't going to read the same way as a mining company's Code of Conduct, or one for Retail. These are completely different types of industries, with completely differing rules and regulations for employees and other stakeholders.
However, regardless of industry, each will have a similar look and feel.
Why does the document exist? Include a brief paragraph outlining what the document contains and why it exists. A Code might even include a brief letter from the CEO setting the tone at the top and defining the importance of ethics and compliance to employees and the company.
Values and guiding principles
Every company has a set of value statements explaining how it performs its day-to-day interactions with clients, suppliers, or employees. As well, principles further support the company's values by supplying operational credentials employees should follow. An organization's reputation and work environment are based on the actions and behaviour of employees.
Ethical decision framework, or scenarios
In this section, a Code might ask employees to answer some questions to help guide them in making an ethical decision about a possible course of action. Its goal is to help employees think before acting and to seek guidance when unsure. Ethical scenarios related to the company offer real- life examples of issues employees may encounter, and the best way to work through them.
List of available resources
Where can employees go if they need additional information or guidance to report on unethical behaviour? This section should include where they can find their anonymous reporting hotline, how they can get in touch with an ethics officer, or the reporting chain of command. It should also stress that employees can choose whatever avenue they feel comfortable with, and there will be no repercussions for doing so.
Many companies have separate fraud, whistleblower, or other relevant industry policies that supplement the Code of Conduct. Let employees know where these items can be found.
Accountability and enforcement action
Everyone is accountable for their actions. Employees and stakeholders need to know there are mechanisms in place to enforce discipline for unethical behaviour. For example, unethical behavior will be subject to disciplinary action, possibly including termination in extreme cases.
Codes come in all shapes and sizes. With a little thought, sharp pencils, and a round of coffee and pastries, any company can develop a new Code of Conduct, or enhance an existing Code to build on its benefits.
But if you need a little help polishing off your existing Code of Conduct, or if you would like a second set of eyes to ensure it meets all expectations, we're here to offer assistance at no charge.