A code of ethics is also commonly referred to as a code of conduct and is a written document stipulating an organization’s principles’ mission and values explaining how the professional worker is supposed to address problems and issues based on the organization’s core values (Webley & Werner, 2008). This document outlays how management expects all workers to carry themselves in accordance to company guidelines. It shows the dos and don’ts and the expected repercussions for any contrary actions (McKinney & Moore, 2008).
ABCD limited is a logistics company and recently came up with the following code of ethics to guide its workers through day to day activities:
- General Employee conduct: All employees are expected to stick to the Code of Conduct at all times without failure and accept any repercussions arising due to contravention of the same.
- Confidentiality: A high level of confidentiality will be observed at all times when dealing with outsiders especially in matters concerning the financial position of ABCD.
- Avoid conflicts of interests: ABCD forbids all employees from running a parallel logistics company that could threaten its interests.
- Gifts: Employees are allowed to receive gifts and visitors provided it’s on unofficial hours. If the same is to happen within official hours, prior communication should be accorded to the human resource office.
- Leave: ABCD allows a 2 day leave per month that lapses at the end of the year. Employees can only take leave twice per year except on emergencies which shall only include the loss of an immediate family member and not an extended family member.
- Using of Company resources for personal use will automatically attract a penalty equivalent to 1% of the employee’s salary deductible at the end of the month.
- Reporting unethical behavior: All suspicious behavior should be reported with immediate effect either to departmental managers or to the human resource office whichever is easily reachable.
- Entertainment: ABCD allows listening to music at low volumes and strictly forbids streaming of videos in YouTube. Movies are outlawed in the company premises and breach of this could attract disciplinary action.
- Working Environment: All employees are entitled to a free and fair working environment. Any complaints concerning this should be addressed to the manager human resources.
- Relationship with suppliers and customers: All employees are to strictly observe a very formal and professional relationship with all suppliers and customers.
The above elements were strategically chosen because they revolve around the confines of the company, its workers and its suppliers and customers. All relations arising from these parties are guided to avoid any confusion and complexities.
According to Helin & Sandström (2008), the code of ethics ought to touch on all parties involved either directly or indirectly in the activities of the organization. The first six elements guide the relationship of the company and the individual employee, the seventh, eighth and ninth elements guides interpersonal employee relations while the tenth element guides relations with outside parties essential to the company.
The code of ethics is extremely vital to the employer since it communicates his/her desires and expectations to the employees. The employer doesn’t have to go to each employee one by one and communicate his/her expectations. The code of ethics also guides all decisions ensuring that they have a similar foundation in addition to maintaining a high level of professionalism among the employees (Fowler, 2008). Adhering to the code of conduct prevents negative legal actions and ensures a high level of equality among all employees.
The code of conduct serves as a reference for employees when making decisions ensuring proactivity and professionalism since most decisions can be made by the employees without having to consult with the employer. This is in addition to enhancing moral behavior and positive relations. The code of ethics prevents employee conflicts especially based on diversity and different preferences. Actions likely to cause differences are well stipulated to avoid any conflicts.
A code of conduct is only effective when implemented. After it has been well documented, the employer should review in case of any discrepancies and ambiguities. New employees should then be notified of it and helped to understand it properly. Probably a human resource officer should go through it together with the employee to avoid any misunderstandings. The employee should also be accorded an opportunity to ask any questions arising thereby (McKinney & Moore, 2008).
A company should also undertake frequent trainings on the code of conduct to ensure all employees are up to date with it. The elements ought to be revised continuously by the employer to ensure flexibility and adaptability to changes. The employer should also ensure a high level of fairness when dealing with matters arising as a result of contravening the code of conducts. All complaints and reports pertaining to the code of ethics should be treated with a high level of seriousness by the employer. Disciplinary actions should also be well followed to the end by the disciplinary body.
An organization can also effectively implement its code of ethics by awarding those who best stick to them. Attaching a compensation incentive to moral ethical behavior can encourage other employees to follow suit. Conducting frequent case reviews improves employee skills of both anticipating and dealing with potential ethical complaints (Singh, 2011).
Fowler, M. D. M. (2008). Guide to the code of ethics for nurses: Interpretation and application. Nursesbooks. org.
Helin, S., & Sandström, J. (2008). Codes, ethics and cross-cultural differences: Stories from the implementation of a corporate code of ethics in a MNC subsidiary. Journal of Business Ethics, 82(2), 281-291.
McKinney, J. A., & Moore, C. W. (2008). International bribery: Does a written code of ethics make a difference in perceptions of business professionals. Journal of Business Ethics, 79(1-2), 103-111.
Singh, J. B. (2011). Determinants of the effectiveness of corporate codes of ethics: An empirical study. Journal of Business Ethics, 101(3), 385-395.
Webley, S., & Werner, A. (2008). Corporate codes of ethics: Necessary but not sufficient. Business Ethics: A European Review, 17(4), 405-415.