How to Write a Code of Conduct

Every company needs a good code of conduct. Follow these eight great tips to create a code of conduct that your employees will actually want to read and use.

Posted by Katie Yahnke in on September 20th, 2017

Your company’s code of conduct should be something you take pride in. Most times, a document like this is put on the back burner, and when it’s finally finished, it doesn’t get used as it should.

Follow these key steps before, during, and after the writing process to make sure your code of conduct uniquely represents the company it’s made for.

Before Writing a Code of Conduct

An effective code of conduct usually enlists the help of those who will actually be reading the document.
1. Come up with a good timeline. An effective code of conduct usually enlists the help of those who will actually be reading the document. To come up with a realistic timeline, consider that you’ll need to:

  • Consult with others
  • Draft the content
  • Review and edit
  • Design the appearance
  • Obtain approval
  • Arrange translation if required

2. Consult with others to develop the company’s code of conduct. We can’t tell you exactly how to write this code because it should reflect the uniqueness and specific values of the business and it’s employees. A code of conduct should be tailored to the company so who better to ask than those who work there? You can send out surveys or set up focus groups with staff from human resources, communications, legal, security, and management teams. You can ask questions like:

  • What do you envision as acceptable and unacceptable behavior?
  • What makes our company different than others?
  • Would this document be helpful for you?
  • Are we missing anything?
  • How could this document be more useful?

Combine these tips with our free Code of Conduct Template and half of your work is already done.

Writing a Code of Conduct

3. What is the objective of your code of conduct? In most cases, the goal is to get the intended audience to read, understand, and use the code. This won’t be achieved if it’s filled with jumbled language, company jargon, and convoluted sentences. Don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be. Get to the point and for bonus points use images or color that reflect the company and its personality.

Every employee likes to see that the management team is as committed as they are, regardless of how large or small the company may be.
4. A message from the CEO is always a good way to start. Include a photo and signature to make it even more personal. Every employee likes to see that the management team is as committed as they are, regardless of how large or small the company may be.

Need inspiration? We rounded up a list of 18 of the Best Code of Conduct Examples.

5. Every company will need something different from their code of conduct, but some of the more common sections to include would be:

  • An introduction (mission statement, scope, company culture, key values)
  • Conduct in the workplace (harassment, discrimination, conflict of interest)
  • Conduct in the marketplace (protection of assets, preserve confidentiality)
  • Conduct in the community (respect in society, community involvement)
  • A conclusion (compliance, reporting misconduct, disciplinary actions)

6. Don’t be afraid to use examples. People love examples.

After Writing a Code of Conduct

Give the code of conduct to all new employees on their first day to get them acquainted with the company.
7. Simply writing a code of conduct is not enough. You have probably just spent weeks coming up with a clear, concise document that you’re finally happy with. The last thing you’d want is for the document to sit in someones email folder and collect dust. Give the code of conduct to all new employees on their first day to get them acquainted with the company. Recirculate the document every once in a while, and try to refer to the code when speaking at company events (such as an all-staff meeting).

8. It’s important to come back and review the code every two to three years (or more often if the company is going through a transitional stage such as growing very quickly or taking on a new niche). Companies change and so do their values, so it’s important that this document accurately reflects the company and everyone in it.


Katie Yahnke
Katie Yahnke

Marketing Writer

Katie is the marketing writer at i-Sight. She writes on topics that range from fraud, corporate security and workplace investigations to corporate culture, ethics and compliance.