Best Practices: Code of Ethics

According to those at Ethisphere, a code of conduct should “contain and explain the behavioral expectations that an organization holds for its employees and agents.

Posted by Joe Gerard in Code of Conduct, Ethics, Ethics & Compliance, Human Resources on March 4th, 2010

You can find the code of ethics or code of conduct for many businesses on their company websites. According to those at Ethisphere, a code of conduct should “contain and explain the behavioral expectations that an organization holds for its employees and agents. To be successful, a code must be credible to all stakeholders. The organization’s demonstrated commitment has significant impact on success. How the code itself is written and how it is communicated both play instrumental roles in determining whether the code has the ability to influence not only employee perceptions, but more importantly, actions.” Ethisphere has a system that they have been using to rate ethics codes that they review- all of the codes that they evaluate and comment on are available to the public, all you have to do is look for it on the respective company website.

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To see Ethisphere’s methodology for ranking each of the codes, click here. Codes of ethics are reviewed and graded in the following areas:

  • Public availability
  • Tone from the top
  • Readability and tone
  • Non-retaliation reporting
  • Values and commitments
  • Risk topics
  • Comprehension aids
  • Presentation and style

Making the Grade

Ethisphere has also compiled a list of the grades given to 50 different codes of ethics that were reviewed in 2009. To take a look at how some of the businesses and codes of ethics in the government contractors and business services sectors measure up to Ethisphere’s standards, click here to see the list.

Best Practices

The online availability of company codes of ethics makes it much easier to look at what other businesses are including in their code in order to develop a high quality code of ethics. When codes are evaluated and graded, as well as given the status of best practices, it would be a wise idea to go read some of these codes of ethics to see if some of their elements could be integrated into your own code. Ethisphere has given the code of ethics at the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation a lot of praise, even recommending that it be used as a benchmarking tool for businesses that are constructing or amending their code of ethics. To see what all of the praise is for, you can read the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation’s code of ethics by clicking here.

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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