Why You Need a Code of Ethics & How to Write One

man in business attired writing on paper

How do you generally handle issues in a workplace?

If an employee goes to you reporting an incident they witnessed what do you do? How do you take action?

Having a code of ethics can greatly help in your decision-making process. Your code of ethics will serve as the rule book that will help maintain peace and order in your company as both employees and administration must adhere to it.

Do you already have a set code of ethics for your business?

If you don't have one yet don't worry we're here to guide you on how to make one and implement it effectively. 

What is a code of ethics?

A code of ethics is a set of principles designed to assist the members of an organization on how to conduct business with honesty and integrity. 

This greatly helps your people understand the difference between right and wrong when it comes to their decisions and actions.

A code of ethics must be based upon and should reflect your company's mission and core values to identify how you and your people are supposed to tackle problems in the workplace.

Making it that way you'll be able to set a clear standard on how your employees along with the authorities should behave professionally while conducting business.

When they are morally unsure about an incident or situation they can simply refer to the code of ethics to know what the next right step is.

It is like a guide that can steer your people toward arriving on a decision or action that is aligned with the mission and core values of your company.

Benefits of having a code of ethics

There is no guarantee that everyone you hire is a good person or upholds the same values you have.

You can also never know when something unpleasant and unexpected will happen and cause trouble in your workplace.

Given these situations it is best to have a code of ethics people can use to make the right decisions.

One of the significant benefits of having this code is ensuring your people's safety. 

Whether it's personal mental physical or emotional safety we're talking about when your employees know that they're protected in all those aspects it can greatly help them become happier and more productive.

In worst case scenarios like theft of company confidential files or funds reports of sexual harassment or an employee inflicting injury on a coworker a rule book of offenses and their corresponding punishment will solve grave matters like these.

There is a transparent solution everyone in the company can rely on.

Having all personnel properly oriented about your code of ethics will also primarily prevent these incidents from happening.

You your employees and your business can all be saved by a clear code of ethics.

How can you create a code of ethics?

If you don't have a code of ethics yet now is the right time to make one!

If you already have one you can also consider this a reminder to revisit it and review if there's something in there that needs to be updated.

Setting a code of ethics provides a foundation of trust and confidence in your part that your people will conclude with the right decisions in difficult times.

It is important to create one that you your employees and your business can live by.

Getting started with a code of ethics will require representations from the different groups in your workforce – veterans with tenure new people assistants and management. All representatives must be given the chance to contribute.

Your code of ethics must be direct concise and must make no room for confusion.

It is most essential that there are no jargon or difficult terms in the document so make sure that the words you're going to use are easily understood by everyone.

There's also no need to rush the process of creating the code of ethics. Everyone must be thorough and ensure that all important focus points are covered. 

When you start writing your code of ethics it is best to be professional respectful considerate and inclusive. 

Some components of the code may include any if not all of the following:

  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Work environment
  • Conflict of interest
  • Handling company assets
  • Harassment
  • Use of social media
  • Dress code

You can also look into including these topics: substance use anti-bribery corruption job abandonment and many more.

Topics may vary depending on the guidelines you set and their alignment to your mission and core values. 

Accessibility to your code of ethics

It is imperative that you communicate the importance and terms of the code and its sanctions to both your employees and administrators.

To make sure everyone is properly oriented about it here are some ways you can disseminate this information:

  • Hiring process and onboarding
  • Company handbook
  • Internal communications
  • Company meetings
  • Official staff gatherings
  • Scheduled employee reviews

This initiative for transparency will remove any possibility of an employee or administrator making any excuse about not being informed about the rules in your company in case a violation is committed.

Strong implementation of your code of ethics will make your company safer as trust and integrity are observed.

This can surely contribute to the good reputation of your business.

Wrapping it up

Having a code of ethics is a means to protect you your people and your business. An organization without one can be a hotbed of toxic culture that can result in a disgruntled workforce high attrition rate and poor performance.

In time this will take a toll on your business.

Take the necessary time and resources to create one or update the set of principles that you already have to keep up with the changing times.

It's best to not leave any stone unturned when you go about the details of the rules its implications and sanctions if necessary. 

Let your company’s representatives give their thoughts to make sure your code is inclusive and bound by respect. This will help your people work in harmony.

You an HR representative or business owner is seen as a person with authority. Practicing what you preach is vital in keeping order in your business so you must keep in mind to walk the talk – show that no one is above the law.

Nathaly Seruela

Nathaly Seruela