The "Five P's" to Creating Your Killer Ethics Policy
These Five P's Have Perfect Potential!
Defining the ethics policy in your organization is part of establishing an effective ethics hotline. There are a variety of different codes, different names, styles and content. Some are concise and straightforward and some are more detailed and are accompanied by an ethics program.
Policies and codes may differ across organizations, however, their main purpose is to influence behaviour by setting out the values, standards of behaviour and business practices that are expected of employees and other stakeholders.
In order to be effective the development and the implementation of an organization's policies and codes needs to be carefully considered. They should reflect the true values and behaviours that the organization wants to uphold rather than satisfying a public relations exercise. The content of an organization's code will be influenced by the organization's strategy and culture. Codes should use plain, positive language, should be clear and precise and widely accessible. Their implementation should be actively monitored.
Without setting an example from top and middle management, it may be difficult to convince employees that they also need to conduct their daily business in an ethical manner. A well-defined ethics policy along with an outline of related standards of conduct provides the framework for ethical, moral behaviour within a company.
If employees are treated with disrespect and distrust, chances are they will do the same toward management, and possibly customers! When developing an ethics policy, you must decide what it is you want your company to stand for, put it in writing, and enforce it. An ethics policy can be based on five fundamental principles:
A purpose combines both your vision as well as the values you would like to see upheld in your business. It comes from the top down and outlines specifically what is considered acceptable as well as unacceptable in terms of conduct in your business.
Pride builds dignity and self-respect. If employees are proud of where they work and what they are doing, they are much more inclined to act in an ethical manner. You want your employees to want to come into work each morning.
Since you must focus on long-term versus short-term results, you must develop a certain degree of patience. Without it, you will become too frustrated and will be more tempted to choose unethical alternatives.
Persistence means standing by your word. It means being committed. If you are not committed to the ethics you have outlined, then they become worthless. Be persistent.
In a world where there is never enough time to do everything we need or want to do, it is often difficult to maintain perspective. However, stopping and reflecting on where your business is headed, why you are headed that way, and how you are going to get there allows you to make the best decisions both in the short-term as well as the long-term.
Your policy should reflect the values that are important to the business. It should also give you piece of mind! Creating your killer ethics policy will help you establish an effective ethics hotline.