Posted by Judd Lowe ● Sep 27, 2019 9:26:13 AM

The Dos and Don’ts of Creating a Code of Ethics in the Workplace

shutterstock_145006432Ethics can be a highly subjective topic, and ethics in the workplace is no different.  Every person seems to have a different threshold for what he/she considers to be “ethical” behavior, however it is of the utmost importance that an organization has a shared consensus of what ethical behavior is when dealing with its employees and customers.  Ethics are generally based on social mores and stem from cultural, secular values, such as honesty, integrity, responsibility (both corporate and social), respect, and civic-mindedness.

 

Ethics Ethos

Ethics policies should be an embedded part of the corporate culture, and it is cursory for them to be incorporated into an employee handbook or laid out in an explicit code of conduct.  If the lines of ethics are blurred, a corporation can find itself in murky waters, having difficulty finding its moral compass that drives its business decisions or rules on questionable actions or behavior with an appropriate level of authority.  Thus, ethics should drive corporate policies and decisions in the areas of:

  • Corporate mission, vision, and core values
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Client, customer, and vendor relations
  • Workplace safety (OSHA) and legal/regulatory issues, such as Sarbanes-Oxley
  • Anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and equal opportunity programs
  • Anti-bribery or corruption

Ethics Entanglement

Conversely, there are definite areas to avoid when compiling a corporate code of ethics.  Some of these include:

  • Overt romance or dating policies can be precarious territory
  • Detailed nepotism policies can become sticky
  • Consideration of questionable behaviors committed outside of the workplace
  • Use of technology when involving a confidential or private matter
  • Dress code restrictions that can be construed as discriminatory acts

What’s most important when creating a corporate code of ethics is to consult many other sources and examples of other companies’ codes in your industry, compose a committee of leaders to compile the policy, and make sure that the code jibes with your company’s core values and is made readily available or posted for your employees.

 

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Topics: code of ethics in the workplace, workplace dos, workplace dont's

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