A code of conduct is often called the foundation of a company’s corporate ethics and compliance program. If properly designed and communicated, it’s the single most effective and impactful part. In addition to empowering employees to make the right decisions, a solid code also provides a company with an opportunity to defend itself in the case of a compliance failure.
A few quick tips on making your code click in 2021:
Creating your content
- Show your values – Articulating your values as part of your code helps demonstrate that the company treats its commitments to various stakeholders seriously. Recent years have seen a steady shift towards values-based vs rules-based codes.
- Risky business – Choose topics that are relevant to most of your employees and limit the number to no more than 20. Try to strike the right balance between appropriate depth and providing only as much detail as needed for clarity. Supplement complex or key topics with Q&As or scenarios to help improve comprehension and reinforce the most important points.
Delivering the message
- Start at the top – Without a strong tone set by top management, a code runs the risk of not being taken seriously. To be impactful, the wording must be authentic, inspiring and sincere. An introduction by the CEO on why the code is important is a good place to begin.
- Keep it readable – Remember that your employees are the primary audience. Make sure your code is written in a way most employees would easily understand: plain language, active voice, and inclusivity. The code should be inviting and appealing. Readers get quickly intimidated by a code that looks like a contract.
Reader tip: click the example images to see each company’s full Code of Conduct.
Check back soon for part 2 of our expert tips!