The ethical culture is just as important as anything else in determining the level of ethical behaviour or fraud, corruption and unacceptable conduct in your organisation. Crucial to enhancing your ethical culture is setting the ethical standards. What do you expect of your staff? Codes of Conduct and Ethics are ideal means for setting, enhancing and enforcing the standards.


 

Does the Code Fit? Ensuring Relevance and Appropriateness

Every organisation is different and the Code should reflect the uniqueness of your organisation. The standards should be relevant and appropriate. If staff accept the standards in your Code they will comply with them and actively promote them. If they don't they will sabotage them and encourage defiance.

Research has shown that finding out what staff really think is appropriate, will encourage acceptance of the Code. Methods that can be used to bring staff on board are workshops, focus groups and questionnaires. We can help you design the program for getting staff involved and on side as well as the questionnaires, focus groups or workshops that may be appropriate.

 

TIP


     Ask don't assume. Find out what your staff really think is appropriate.
 


 

TRAP


    
Taking bits and pieces from other Codes and making them your own 
     without checking that they really do fit your organisation well.

 

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Drafting

Codes need to be drafted so that they can be understood by all staff. If staff cannot understand the Code they will be less likely to comply with it. Tribunals accept this and tend to penalise organisations whose Codes are difficult to understand.

We can help you ensure that your Code is understandable, unambiguous and more likely to be followed.
 

TIP


     Avoid jargon, big words, long sentences, long paragraphs, long 
     Codes.
 


  

TRAP

     Your Code should not be written in code.  Many employees have 
     poor to average language skills and cannot fully understand Codes.


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Reviewing and Revising

Codes are living documents. They need to be reviewed periodically to ensure that they remain relevant and appropriate. Codes should generally be reviewed at least every two years.

We can help you ensure that your Code still covers all of the areas that it should, has standards that are appropriate now, has the right tone, and is appropriate for the needs of staff and management.

 

TIP


     Look at it as though you are starting from scratch, setting the most  
     appropriate standard, otherwise you tend to just accept what is there.
 



TRAP


    
When significant parts of the Code are seen as being out of date,  
     staff often consider the whole Code as not worth following anymore.

 

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Distribution

Having a Code is important. Ensuring that everyone in your organisation gets to see it is also important. People shouldn't be expected to comply with something they don't know about.

We can help you ensure that all people get to know about the Code through an appropriate distribution process, summaries of the Code, posters of key issues and other methods.

TIP


     If your Code is revised ensure that everyone is given a copy of the   
     new version, otherwise people will still follow old versions which
     may have out of date standards.
 



TRAP


    
Where organisations have not been able to reasonably show that   
     everybody got a copy of summary of the Code, tribunals have
     excused people who breached the code. 

 

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Training & Awareness

If people aren't aware of the contents of your Code you can't expect them to follow it. There are two aspects to training and awareness, one is giving staff the information, and the other is motivating them to use that information about the Code. Training and awareness sessions are also valuable in dealing with any resistance to the Code and helping to overcome that resistance.

We can help you conduct workshops and awareness workshops, briefing sessions, as well as other methods of ensuring awareness such as interactive computer training, posters, articles in internal publications, and other media.

TIP


     Codes should encourage ethical behaviour, not antagonise people   
     into ignoring or defying the Code. Codes work better as carrots as
     opposed to sticks.
 



TRAP


    
In some cases tribunals have excused breaches of the Code on the    
     basis that the staff did not receive training in the Code

 

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Specific policies related to and tying in to the Code

It is often impractical to put all of the relevant aspects of a particular standard in your Code. In these cases it is generally more appropriate to have the Code summarise the key issues and have a policy dealing in greater detail with that particular standard. For example the Code may have a paragraph dealing with Internet usage, but a policy containing all the relevant issues.

We can help you write the policies to fully encapsulate the standards set.

TIP


       Don't try to put everything in the code, it will become too large and
       people will be less likely to actually refer to it.     
 



TRAP


    
   The Code saying one thing and policies another. This causes 
        confusion and often leads to both being disregarded

 

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Compliance assurance

Having a Code has many advantages, but if people are not complying you will not get all of those advantages. So how do you know if people are complying with your Code?

We can help you to ensure that people are complying with your Code.

TIP


       Having a person who staff can come to for advice will help
       encourage the greatest compliance     
 



TRAP


    
   Where management are seen to breach the intent of the Code, 
        even if they follow the letter of it, staff will be more inclined not
        to comply with either the intent or the letter of the Code
        
 

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Reporting of Breaches

If compliance with the Code is to be encouraged it is important that people have an avenue available for reporting non-compliance. If the avenue is not available and reports taken seriously, then people tend to assume that you are not serious about supplying an ethical work environment.

We can help you establish an effective reporting framework. In most cases a simple framework is adequate although in some circumstances it may include a reporting policy, posters, telephone listings, a hot line, training for people receiving reports, etc.

TIP


       If someone making a report refuses to give their name, ask them
       to also send you something in writing. People often remember 
       other important information when they sit down and write, and you
       get a much fuller report.
 



TRAP


    
   Not having a central area to which reports are channelled. This 
        way you never get a true picture of what is happening. Band aid
        remedies tend to be used at a very local level instead of tackling 
        the problem for the whole organisation.

 

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Dealing with Breaches

The vast majority of people want to work in an ethical environment. Dealing with breaches of the Code helps ensure that the ethical environment remains sound.

TIP


       In a unionised environment, get union agreement early about the
       process to be used for dealing with breaches.     
 



TRAP


    
   Breaches by management are tolerated or treated with kid gloves,
        whereas breaches by staff are dealt with severely. This causes 
        resentment of the Code and resistance to it.

 

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Obtaining compliance by contractors, suppliers, partners and others.

Once you have established and communicated the standards to people in your organisation you should consider your contractors, suppliers, partners and others. These people's interactions with your staff may lead to your staff being tempted into unethical conduct.

We can help you with obtaining compliance through a range of methods such as a screening process, contractual means, letters, industry groups, focused lobbying, helping other organisations establish an ethical framework, etc.

TIP


       Our experience is that other parties are generally happy to
       implement an ethics program to ensure that your staff and
       customers are treated in an ethical way.
 



TRAP


    
   Customers may not understand the role of the other people and 
        blame your organisation for unethical conduct that is carried out
        by your partners etc.

 

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