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Code of Conduct


  1. Code of conduct should be a reflection of the values and ethics of the firm, as well as its compliance program.
  2. Maintain commitment from top managers
  3. Polish, post and make code of ethic available and understandable
  4. Communication of standard of behavior and factors to consider in packaging and disseminating information through appropriate channels
  5. Timely code of conduct development program through training
  6. Ethical framework – Trevino and Weaver
  7. Establish a reporting mechanism that will be confidential
  8. Ensure the C o C is consistently implemented and monitored through appropriate means.
  9. Regularly update the C o C revising and reforming it regularly

Code of Conduct

Codes of conduct serves to identify and proscribe behavior that may subject an organization to legal liability. It also defines and advocates for other ethical principles critical to the organization. Codes of conduct define specific limits of acceptable conduct and also provide guidelines on how to approach ethical issues that may arise. It is important to conduct in depth self assessment of the values of the firm and its existing ethics. It needs to be compliant. Therefore, codes of conducts are used to make ethical and legal principles more definitive for those it serves.

For a code of conduct to be more effective and meaningful, there must be commitment from top management. It also needs to include a statement from the organization’s senior management reinforcing and establishing the importance of the document. In many cases codes of conduct are drafted by a team consisting of in-house counsel. The drafters need to be multi-disciplinary. They should include representation from senior management and other departments such as human resources, safety, communication, and marketing among other relevant departments. It is also important to identify someone within the organization that it seeks to serve who will be overseeing its compliance.

An effective code of conduct should be made available to all it seeks to govern. It should also include relevant topics that they can associate with. It should be tailored to the industry, values and culture of the organization. Though codes of conduct essentially match the specific needs and situations of an organization, it should also include important topics such as antitrust, discrimination, confidentiality, fraud and misrepresentation (Adam, 2004). It should also include other topics like work place violence, workplace safety, drug and alcohol, crisis management among others.

For the code of conduct to be meaningful and have an impact, there is need for the standard of behavior stipulated on the document to be effectively communicated to all the people it seeks to govern. In addition, the code of conduct also needs to be unambiguous and understandable to all employees. This requires the use of simple and concise language. Though it has a legal anchorage, all manners of jargon should be avoided. It is important that the code of conduct to address specific day-to-day situations that workers are likely to encounter, and provide examples of the best way one should conduct in such situations.

A code of conduct should be accompanied by a training program besides giving copies of it to employees. This training should help employees have a better understanding of the content. It will also give the staff at the organization an opportunity to practically apply the guidelines and principles to real life situation that they are likely to encounter in their daily work (Adam, 2004).

An organization’s ethical code is cannot be effective and meaningful if the leaders at the organization do not espouse its very ideals. When leaders act in a way that is consistent with the ethical code of an organization, then employees are going to behave in a similar manner. The Trevino and Weaver theory recognizes ethics as a leadership thing, and so training should start with the top tier managers, and then cascade through the organization. Where it is appropriate, specialized training can also be used.

For the code of conduct to be successful, it is advisable to include avenues of reporting in case of suspected violations and guidance on how to do about it (Adam, 2004). This is a critical ingredient to its success. The code of conduct should also provide its audience with additional information on the specific ways that the code applies. The code can approach this in a number of ways; it could adopt an anonymous hotline, suggestion box, email address or any other appropriate mean of reporting mechanism. Members should be encouraged to report with the assurance that their identity will be protected and that there will not be victimized for reporting.

Regular audits and monitoring should also be used to find out if the code is creating its intended effects. This can be used to determine the compliance levels of employees, as well as the effectiveness of reporting and disciplinary mechanisms provided by the code of conduct.

Finally, the code of conduct needs to be updated on a regular basis to conform to changing laws and regulations and other changes within and outside the organization. The relevance, relevance and applicability of a code can only be achieved if it is continually revised. The revision should include information gathered from audits conducted to find out aspects of the code that that need to be improved.


Adam, A.M. 2004. The Methods Used to Implement an Ethical Code of Conduct and Employee Attitudes Journal of Business Ethics. 54(3): 225-244.

Jones, T.M, et al. 2007. Ethical Theory and Stakeholder – Related Decisions: The Role of Stakeholder Culture Academy of Management Review, 32(1): 137-155.

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