6 Ways Your Code of Conduct Guides through Difficult Times

April 7, 2020 Nathan Miller

With the globe dealing with the universal challenge of COVID-19, organizations have quickly implemented work from home policies, changes internal processes, and activated business continuity plans. Ethics and compliance teams have new challenges to reach their teams with resources to help them address remote work risks, such as data protection and respectful email communication. What is the guiding light that successful organizations turn to in difficult times to guarantee their values endure no matter the challenges they face?

According to LRN's Dana Vazquez and Jim Walton, in a new blog for the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, the answer for organizations everywhere lies in their Code of Conduct. How can you promote values over rules? Vazquez and Walton write:

"Companies shouldn’t rely on rules to govern each employee through a confusing time—but values can guide and inspire. Operating and reinforcing values can provide clarity on how to treat other people and react in unfamiliar situations, and generally promote ethical decision making. A company’s Code of Conduct can inspire, guide, and enable employees to do the right thing. At a time when so much of the world is becoming trickier to navigate, relying on inspiration from core values is the key to success."

Your Code of Conduct should help maintain your culture and values no matter the challenge or where your teams are located. Even with employees spread out, working remotely, each one has a role to play in making sure your ethical culture continues. Whether that culture is taking place through email, conference calls, or Zoom meetings, your Code can help center your values. 

So what are the practical applications of your Code of Conduct. Vazquez and Walton list out six ways your Code can encourage connection and reinforce values:

  • Making your Code easily accessible —provide the link to an online version or printed copies for essential workers

  • Talking to your colleagues and teams about your values and how they want to continue to live them, even when not physically together or challenging to do so

  • Utilizing your Code’s decision-making model to encourage ethical decision making—create virtual posters, include references to the Code in communications to your team, or post them on the intranet

  • Enabling dialogue to have employees ask questions about E&C risks they may be facing—set aside 10 minutes during a team meeting to ask about challenges they may be facing and provide clear resources to guide them

  • Utilizing the principle statements from your Code—be proactive in communicating about what risks or challenges are most applicable to you and your organization

  • Making Code of Conduct training materials available and known for employees to review in addition to the Code of Conduct document

Ethics and compliance teams have an opportunity to connect their values to the day-to-day activity of their organization and turning to the Code of Conduct is the best place to start. To read the full post, visit a the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.

If you feel there is opportunity to improve your Code of Conduct, read LRN’s assessment of nearly 100 publicly-available codes in our report. A leading Code inspires principled performance, guides employees in how to live the organization's values, and enables them to be aware of risks and make ethical decisions.

Previous Post
COVID-19 Shows Importance of Business Continuity Planning
COVID-19 Shows Importance of Business Continuity Planning

Plan International USA didn’t include a scenario for a worldwide pandemic in the business continuity plan i...

Next Post
Times of Crisis Reveal True Character of People, Organizations
Times of Crisis Reveal True Character of People, Organizations

How a company faces up to employee realities, and to hardship and crisis, reveals who it is.