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Global Workplace Policies and The Coca-Cola Company

It’s difficult to create policies and ethics codes for an international company.

Posted by Joe Gerard on March 18th, 2010

It’s difficult to create policies and ethics codes for an international company. You want your business and your employees to uphold integrity and remain ethical and compliant in all countries that you operate in. Creating a global policy- whether it pertains to harassment, discrimination, bribery, or any other workplace issue, is challenging due to the differences between laws, regulations and social norms that exist across borders. You can touch on each of these areas in a broader sense when developing your global workplace policies in order to set the tone from the top.

You want your business and your employees to uphold integrity and remain ethical and compliant in all countries that you operate in.
To develop a business-wide policy that can be used in every office, it’s best to focus on implementing and communicating the goals, ethics and culture of the company. Once these elements have been documented, then each policy will need to be tailored to the local laws/ regulations that are in place in the various countries that your business operates in.

Emphasize Culture

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The desired corporate culture should be outlined in your global policies, as your culture brings the character element to your brand name. The elements of your corporate culture need to be adopted across borders, as culture defines “the way things are” or “the way of life” that employees experience while they are employed by a specific company. Culture also spills over into organizational values, which determine the “beliefs and ideas about what kinds of goals members of an organization should pursue and ideas about the appropriate kinds or standards of behavior organizational members should use to achieve these goals.” One of the key factors of a successful culture is a workplace where employees work together to achieve common goals and opportunities are provided for employees. To develop a strong culture across all countries, you must focus on:

  • Communicating the goals and values of the company to all employees
  • Opening lines of communication
  • Honesty and integrity- communicate your commitment to ethics to all employees
  • Providing employees with the proper tools and resources for success
  • Establishing a concise vision and mission that guides the overall operations of the company- Coca-Cola has published their mission, vision and values, providing great insight into their corporate culture and future desires for the company- focusing on their brand and their people.

Example: Coca-Cola’s Global Workplace Rights Policy

Coca-Cola has published their international workplace policies online. The Coca-Cola Company’s Workplace Rights Policy is composed of articles outlined in the international human rights standards- including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the United Nations Global Compact. The Workplace Rights Policy “applies to The Coca-Cola Company and all of the entities that it owns or in which it holds a majority interest. The Company is committed to working with and encouraging our independent bottling partners to uphold the principles in this Policy and to adopt similar policies within their businesses.” On the first page of the global policy, Coca-Cola states their mission regarding the creation of the policy, stating “we value the relationship we have with our employees. The success of our business depends on every employee in our global enterprise. We are committed to fostering open and inclusive workplaces that are based on recognized workplace human rights, where all employees are valued and inspired to be the best they can be.” The policy touches on the areas of freedom of association and collective bargaining, forced labor, child labor, discrimination, work hours and wages, safe and healthy workplace, workplace security, community and stakeholder engagement, outlining their stance on each of these issues regardless of the country of operation that Coca-Cola works in. Taking it one step further, Coca-Cola has created a human rights statement that governs the global entirety of their business:

“The reputation of The Coca-Cola Company is built on trust and respect. Our employees and those who do business with us around the world know we are committed to earning their trust with a set of values that represent the highest standards of quality, integrity, excellence, compliance with the law and respect for the unique customs and cultures in communities where we operate.”

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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