Over the past year, you’ve likely seen a significant uptick in the term “code of conduct” in the news as a result of the multiple recent ethics and compliance failures across industries. Codes of conduct are now more important than ever.
Corporate codes of conduct have evolved over the past 20 years – from a compendium of rules and regulations telling employees what they can and cannot do – to a set of guidelines for employees to follow – to beacons that inspire principled performance. We like to think of a code of conduct as an organization’s “culture written down.” We want codes of conduct to be a statement of who you are, what you believe, how you relate to others and the world, and how things get done.
The most effective codes of conduct start with the organization’s purpose, then outlines core values, which in turn drives the desired behaviors that result in positive business outcomes. The tone is positive, the voice is inclusive, and the language is simple and direct. Employees should see themselves and their colleagues in the code. They should be able to say with pride “this is where I work.” Likewise, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and prospective employees should be able to get a sense of what it’s like to work at your company.
If you don’t have a “Code of Conduct” consider getting started. Your employees, your culture, and your bottom line, will thank you. Download a 12-page template here.