Values link to codes of conduct because businesses tend to have values that they pride themselves on, and from there, the code of conduct reflects these values. A code of conduct needs to represent the company.
For example, public sector values include integrity, accountability and leadership, and this means that businesses within the public sector have a code of conduct that reflects these priorities so that their staff are behaving with the values in mind.
The Importance of Values in Business
Values are important to us all because they guide our decision making in everything that we do, and when it comes to company values, there's really no difference. Company values provide the framework for an organisation that is aimed at all parties involved, whether that's the employees, the customers, or the stakeholders. The values shape the company culture, and therefore have an impact on everyone.
It is important to recognise that these values aren't just words written in a company handbook that gets forgotten about. They need to be consistently implemented internally to ensure they are reflected in every corner of the business.
If values aren't shared by the people within your organisation, there can easily be conflict in the workforce, resulting in an inefficient and hostile environment.
By understanding the things that you value as a business, you can determine what to do in every situation you come face-to-face with, no matter how big or small.
Values in a Code of Conduct
The importance of values cannot be denied when it comes to business. It's fair to say that when we are around people that we share common values with, we feel safer and more secure. Having a set of shared values that everyone buys into is what helps to shape a strong culture within your organisation, and if the code of conduct represents these values, then further stability is added to the company culture.
Every code of conduct has to reflect the business it represents, and that is exactly where the values come into play. This need for it to be tailored to the business means that there isn't one set code of conduct that every company can use. However, there are certain characteristics that all companies should implement:
- Make sure it's easy to understand and includes an explanation of any technical/legal jargon.
- Covers all areas that impact the daily lives of employees and answers any questions that they may have.
- Have support from the senior management team; this could be by including a foreword from the CEO or President.
- Make sure it is available to all employees and investors. This way everyone is kept in the loop.
Setting an Example
Google: The Google code of conduct is readily available online, allowing easy access for employees and customers. Google emphasise their values and outline a variety of important factors throughout the code of conduct such as stating who must adhere to the standards set and how misconduct will be addressed. The code stresses the importance of speaking up and acting against wrongdoing.
Coca-Cola: A quick glance at Coca-Cola code reveals a clear, unifying value: integrity. This theme acts as the foundation for every component of their code of conduct, including conflicts of interests, dealing with external stakeholders/partners, and the use of company assets. By embedding one of their core values into the code of conduct, Coca-Cola is showing their commitment to their business standards.