A code of conduct policy is something that an organisation has as a set of rules around behaviour for the members of that group to follow. The code articulates standards that the employees need to meet so that they can know what is expected of them to produce a more efficient business.
Despite the importance of a code of conduct, they work on a completely voluntary basis, seen as a sign of good company practice if you have a formal structure in place.
Larger businesses tend to already have a code in place to create consistency and stability with their employees, but small companies tend to go about their business without a formal code as they don't feel it's needed.
Some organisations still seem to approach their codes as something to make them look good, rather than having a deep-rooted impact on the business. What is clear is that many organisations are still failing to use the codes as a tool to inspire an ethical corporate culture.
Having a code of conduct policy in place is beneficial for several reasons within a business, whatever the size
- It sets standards and expectations for employees to follow when it comes to their behaviour
- It helps define the company culture quickly
It lets your customers and partners know your values, and from there they can work out if they want to work with you.
Why a Code of Conduct is Important
A well-written code of conduct clarifies an organisation's values and principles, and links them with standards of professional conduct at the same time. As a result, codes of conduct become the standards that companies need to live up to.
Additionally, it helps employees in general decision-making, allowing them to be prepared to handle ethical dilemmas in the workplace when they come up. It can also serve as a valuable reference for potential customers and clients by letting them know your business values, creating a level of transparency for a healthy business relationship to flourish.
So as you can see, a code of conduct policy can benefit not only the employees within the business, but also improves your image as a brand, with both of these cases highlighting the positive impact it has on the company.
Every code of conduct has to reflect the business it represents, whether that means the daily operations of the company, their core values or the general company culture.
Setting the Right Example
- 1. Ford
Ford's code of conduct is clear, detailed and comprehensive. Each section is broken into two key components. The first is an overview of the relevant policy and the second is a summary of the requirements for employees under that policy. The code also mentions additional resources and documents that contain greater detail.
The organisation of Ford's code of conduct policy makes it easy to read and understand. It covers a variety of topics that may impact employees, including the use of company assets, product quality and safety, intellectual property and international business practices.
- 2. Microsoft
Microsoft's standards of business conduct have been drafted around one central theme – trust. The company emphasizes the importance of this value to them, including in their work with customers, governments, fellow employees, investors and representatives. Their policy also offers a process to help employees make difficult decisions that reflect the values and standards of Microsoft's.
Microsoft provides its employees with a visually appealing and easy-to-read document that is reflective of the organisation's values. The company highlights that the responsibilities covered in the code of conduct apply to all employees of the company, whether that's a senior executive or a summer intern.
- 3. Facebook
Facebook's code of conduct policy is published on the company's investor relations website and available for download as a PDF, making it accessible to view. Plus, the code is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. It covers important topics including conflicts of interest, harassment, confidentiality and protection of user data.
Facebook also highlights that employees can report violations anonymously to their managers, HR or legal department so that they feel comfortable speaking out.