At a time when the issue of business ethics has been so publicized by the media, developing an organizational code of conduct has become of great importance in companies, regardless of their size and field of activity.
Large corporations are currently reassessing their internal procedures and readjusting their codes of conduct with the aim of improving their image in the eyes of public opinion and the press in general.
But how to develop an organizational code of conduct? How does it positively impact an organization? If you are an entrepreneur or a manager and have these doubts, your place is here. Check out!
But after all, what is a code of conduct?
Organizational code of conduct is also commonly known as code of ethics. It serves to define standards of behavior, procedures and ways of acting for employees inside and outside the company.
The code of conduct removes any doubt regarding the ethical nature. It must be disclosed to all employees and must be part of the company’s organizational culture.
It is important that when a new employee is hired, the HR department presents the code and emphasizes its importance and relevance in the daily lives of all employees.
Customers, suppliers, government and supervisory bodies and the community where the company operates must also be aware of the code and must contribute to its compliance.
How to develop a code of conduct?
Below we will explain some steps that are fundamental to the creation of the code:
Creation of a committee
Usually the codes of conduct of companies are defined and determined by the top management. They can be specified during your strategic planning or in an exclusive committee for its creation.
The most important director of the company and representatives of HR and the legal department, as well as the most relevant sectors of the company, should form part of this committee.
After the approval of the code, this committee can have a continuous action, evaluating and monitoring possible situations of misconduct by employees.
The presentation of the code’s content must be clear, objective and direct, making it easy for everyone to understand. It should consist of short but very explicit sentences.
It must be reviewed by a lawyer, if one is not present on the committee, to assess its legality.
The content of the code of conduct should reflect the various relationships that employees will have in the following dialogues:
- with other collaborators;
- with hierarchical superiors;
- with the clients;
- with suppliers;
- with competitors;
- with shareholders;
- with candidates for possible vacancies;
- with the communities where the company operates;
- with the press and communication channels:
- with government agencies;
- with inspection agents;
- with the environment.
All these relationships must be specified and standardized. Each with its scope and importance within the specific activity of the company.
These relationships should be discussed among the participants of the code preparation committee. Depending on the size of the company, it is suggested that a professional or a consulting company participate as a mediator in the debate meetings. This accelerates and directs the clash between the members.
How to disseminate the organizational code of conduct?
After making the organizational code of conduct, the document must be printed to be distributed to all employees. Some companies that have an intranet — an internal network within the company with the same characteristics as the Internet — choose to publish in digital media. This is cheaper and faster.
However, it is important that the HR department has proof that the employee has received and is aware of the code of conduct. For the purpose of possible penalties for misconduct, it is important that the company is preserved and has the means to demonstrate that the employee was aware of the code.
Even on the intranet, it is possible to register that the employee received and read the document. Just place a button that will be activated by it to confirm the reading.
As already mentioned, in new admissions , the HR department must present the code, ask for confirmation of receipt and reading and clear up all doubts from new employees.
What are the positive impacts on the company?
Several positive points are perceived after the generation and dissemination of a code of conduct. Let’s list a few:
The implementation of a code of conduct brings the company an improvement in its image before all the components of its relationship network.
It shows your organizational culture and the procedures that everyone must follow. In this time of intense use of social networks, presenting oneself ethically and correctly only adds positive points to the company.
Standardization of relationships
Norming and standardizing relationships are other positive points for corporations. Defining the conduct before all interlocutors transmits seriousness and responsibility to the entire ecosystem in which the company lives.
Possibility of diagnosing misconduct
By using the code of conduct, it is possible to monitor, evaluate and punish any misconduct.
To this end, the company is preserved and authorized to take drastic measures with those employees who do not fit the established rules. This shouldn’t be the goal, but it needs to be used when slips are committed.
Normally, for follow-up, a conduct or ethics committee is set up whose objective is to evaluate the complaints that were registered confidentially. Punishments must be foreseen, but the purpose must always be to educate and raise employee awareness.
This monitoring committee must be constantly renewed at the discretion of each company. It is important that it be composed of people of good reputation and excellent character.
A code of conduct brings with it institutional security for employees who follow its precepts. This is especially important when there is a relationship with external interlocutors.