Our Credo: The Johnson and Johnson Ethics Oath

Our Credo was created in 1943 by Robert Wood Johnson, a member of the founding family of the Johnson and Johnson Company.

Posted by Joe Gerard in Ethics, Ethics & Compliance on April 15th, 2010

Johnson & Johnson published their own form of an “ethics oath” entitled “Our Credo“, as a way to communicate the mission, vision and accountability that Johnson & Johnson holds itself to for a variety of groups- doctors, nurses, patients, mothers, fathers, employees, those in the communities they operate in, as well as the global community and company stockholders.

Previously in our post, “Crisis Management and Ethics Best Practices: Johnson & Johnson“, we discussed the elements of the corporate culture at J&J and other practices they have adopted that have made the company a leader in corporate social responsibility.

Johnson & Johnson understands its responsibility to provide safe products to its consumers.
Our Credo was created in 1943 by Robert Wood Johnson, a member of the founding family of the Johnson and Johnson Company. It was created just before the company became a publicly traded entity and long before the term “corporate social responsibility” was used for accountability in the workplace. On the Johnson and Johnson corporate website, they state that:

“Our Credo challenges us to put the needs and well-being of the people we serve first. Our Credo is more than just a moral compass- we believe it’s a recipe for business success. As a key player in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, Johnson & Johnson understands the responsibility they have when it comes to providing safe products to their consumers, as the risks tied to faulty products within this industry are particularly sensitive.”

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The Ethics Oath

In an earlier post of ours, “Corporate Ethics Oath: A Tool For Understanding and Developing Workplace Ethics“, we discussed how creating and reciting a corporate ethics oath could be used as a tool to help strengthen the ethical culture within your company. As a refresher, here are some of the benefits of having your employees publicly recite an ethics oath:

  • Positive Brand Value - According to this article about brand value on Ethisphere, making your commitment to ethics public means that you are showing an investment in your brand value. When businesses are perceived as committed to ethics, safety or another area of consumer importance, many consumers will disregard the cost of your service or product based on the fact that they feel they are buying the best.
  • Increase in Commitment From Employees - When employees work for a company with a strong brand value, they are more likely to want to remain in as a part of your workplace and will usually end up promoting and endorsing the brand they work for because they truly believe in what their company offers.
  • Perception + Expectation= Reality - Mistakes are sometimes unavoidable and when a company addresses an error head on, the perception and expectations set for that particular company now become a reality. When all both external and internal stakeholders in your company actually follow through on their commitments, the public develops even more respect for your brand image.
  • EVERYONE is Accountable - Reinforcing the “tone from the top” concept- when lower level employees are with their bosses and managers standing in the same area and making the same commitment to ethics, employees at all levels are more likely to adopt and commit to making an ethical change because speaking the words of the pledge with everyone in their workplace has a much greater impact than a sign posted on the wall.

Many companies use storytelling and the mission of previous company leaders as a way to inspire employees and get them on board when working towards company goals. In the case of Johnson and Johnson, the importance of “Our Credo” has been evident since conception, and continues to play a signifiacnt role in the company today. When looking at the above benefits that an ethics oath can provide a company, Johnson and Johnson has been able to experience the rewards associated with each of these benefits.

The story of  Johnson and Johnson’s “Our Credo” is a great example of the positive impact a corporate ethics oath can have on a company. Here is the video version of “Our Credo”:


Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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