7 Items to Include in Your Company’s Code of Ethics

7 Items to Include in Your Company’s Code of Ethics

A Code of Ethics should properly steer all business decisions in the right direction

Whether you have a team of two or two thousand employees, a Code of Ethics is imperative to maintaining a professional and productive work environment. A company’s Code of Ethics is most effective when it clearly communicates company values and when measures are in place to hold employees accountable.

We asked 10 industry experts for their insights on what companies should include in their Code of Ethics as we enter 2021 and how they can hold their employees accountable for carrying out their values. This is what they said:

  • Encompass Key Values

Paul French, Founding Director of Intrinsic Search has found that an effective Code of Ethics is one that provides a gateway to the company’s culture.

“As a value-based tool, the Code of Ethics should espouse those key values that bring employees together, it should offer employees the guidance and support they need to solve ethical dilemmas in the workplace.

“A code that is centered on the organizational culture also ensures that critical processes such as talent sourcing and acquisition are guided by ethical principles and that hiring decisions take into consideration the cultural and ethical fitness of an individual. This way, a company will have a workforce that is committed to ethical conduct and compliance.

“I believe well-planned and regular training on organizational culture, ethics and compliance can set employees up for success.”

  • Strict Measures Against Discrimination

It’s no secret that discrimination and harassment should not be tolerated in the workplace. David Meltzer, CEO of East Insurance Group, provides his insights.

“The one thing that companies should have in their Code of Ethics is a regulation against prejudice, racism, and harassment. These acts seem to be prevalent in today’s world. Racism and prejudice against minorities are still rampant, and it only brings disharmony in the workplace.

“As the manager or employer, you should uphold strict penalties and sanctions, should these acts be committed. At this point, a zero-tolerance policy is necessary. This way, you also make sure that your employees are held accountable for their actions.”

  • Personal Hygiene and Cleanliness

Tony Monisse, Director of Brentnalls WA, discusses the importance of reinforcing personal hygiene and cleanliness in the workplace. Not only does this create a healthier environment, but it also shows respect towards coworkers.

“Now more than ever, personal hygiene and cleanliness are extremely important. As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded over the past year, ensuring hygiene and cleanliness is imperative and should be mandatory for all employees. There is a possibility that the pandemic will come to an end in 2021, but this practice should be continued forever.

“As employees are the actual face of the company, they should be accountable for carrying out the image of their organization wherever they go. By setting a good example, they will be followed by fellow team members.”

  • Accountability

Michael Hammelburger, CEO of The Bottom Line Group, explains the importance of holding employees accountable to your Code of Ethics.

“Having the Code of Ethics explicitly state that it applies from entry-level employees to top executives is something that should be emphasized. Top management needs to be role models when it comes to adherence so each employee in the lower ranks can view them as leaders who live up to their actions based on the Code of Ethics.

“The lack of integrity will definitely put everything in the company at stake. If regular training on the Code of Ethics is given, they can be reminded that they are accountable for every action they make.”

Kia Roberts, Principal and Founder of Triangle Investigations discusses the significance of accountability in more detail.

“The most crucial component within a thorough Code of Ethics is not necessarily an explanation of what is prohibited conduct, but a clear explanation of accountability mechanisms that are triggered when the Code of Ethics is violated by employees. Within many companies, there is a huge gap between what is outlined as unacceptable conduct and what actually happens when employees engage in that unacceptable conduct.

“Employers can hold their employees accountable for carrying out company values by consistently taking appropriate corrective action when employees violate the Code of Ethics. This can include such corrective measures as mandatory trainings, written warnings, suspension, coaching, and all the way up to termination.

“Forward-thinking employers should take the time to create a robust and detailed Code of Ethics, educate employees on the Code of Ethics, and create a quick-moving and thorough process for addressing violations of the Code of Ethics.”

Mary Alice Pizana, Human Resources Manager at Herrman and Herrman PLLC believes that rewarding employees for carrying out their organizational values is a great way to hold them accountable.

“While holding team members accountable for breaking the Code of Ethics is essential to upholding a healthy company culture, rewarding team members for strengthening and empowering the company culture is great for instilling an excellent company culture following the Code of Ethics. Rewarding team members who uphold the Code of Ethics by recognizing their work accomplishments and behavioural habits.”

  • Commitment to Environmental Sustainability

Mark Coster, Owner and Chief Editor of STEM Toy Expert believes that companies should uphold a commitment to green values.

“A 21st-century workplace can’t stand up to the environmental challenges if all employees don’t promote sustainability. Since the pandemic has taught us all that working from home is possible, there’s not a single reason why we shouldn’t keep up with this practice post-COVID, at least on certain days of the week. It will certainly help us reduce the carbon footprint!”

Tom Winter, CRO and Co-founder of DevSkiller further expresses the importance of committing to environmental sustainability.

“Whether it's banning single-use coffee cups from the office or committing to go entirely paperless, in 2021 every company should consider the environment an utmost priority. Millennial and Gen Z consumers that account for a large chunk of the market prefer to spend their money on products made by companies that embrace similar social attitudes as themselves. Therefore, it's crucial to address environmental sustainability in your workplace code of conduct as a mentality to be embraced by employees company-wide.”

  • Social Justice

Oliver Baker, Co-founder of Intelivita explains how several companies fail to carry out the efforts in social justice towards their customers.

“Many companies claim that social justice is included in their company’s Code of Ethics. However, most of them fail to execute it in the field, especially those businesses that are in the customer service industry. Customers, regardless of their status, have the right to fair service. To ensure that this ethic could be observed at all times by the workforce, I suggest that companies should observe stricter rules and provide sanctions for those who would be proven to disregard this ethic.”

  • Protect Sensitive Data

Most employees are trusted with confidential information, whether it’s data surrounding a client, a customer or organizational data. Lucas Robinson, CMO of Crediful believes that your Code of Ethics should include strict measures around sensitive data.

“Your Code of Ethics should always include that all data needs to be protected and not shared outside of the company. Any data can be sensitive, and in the wrong hands could be dangerous to the survival of the company, especially in these trying times of the pandemic. When everyone is safe with their own information and data, the entire company is safer too. Using technology and cloud services to keep data safe is very important, but also just using your common sense as to where data is stored can help a lot too.”

WhistleBlower Security Inc. helps keep businesses and employees accountable for carrying out a company's values and obeying the Code of Conduct. Our confidential and anonymous ethics reporting platform IntegrityCounts allows employees to report any instances of professional misconduct or inappropriate behaviour without fear of retaliation. Contact us today to learn more!

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photo Amanda Nieweler
About the Author
Amanda writes for WhistleBlower Security about ethics, compliance, workplace culture, and whistleblower hotlines. Amanda brings her nearly two decades of risk and compliance experience to the WBS blog where she is dedicated to helping people and companies promote speak-up cultures.

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