How To Implement a Code of Ethics

When you first arrange to make a code of ethics part of your business practice, it can seem to be a challenging process to decide what those ethics are and how to enforce them. Below are some tips that will help you to get started in this process.

First of all, get everyone involved by dividing your staff into teams. Have each team list the top three or four ideas that the team's members feel would make good contributions to a code of ethics; then, as a staff, vote on a limited number of elements and agree upon the wording that will be included in the final copy. Make sure that you ask open-ended questions which will bring up good ideas for discussion while meeting in groups.

Once you have outlined what the ethics are, the key steps you need to take to put them into practice are training, communication and example. Every employee, no matter what his position, should be trained on what the ethics are for the business and why they are important. Each employee should be given the opportunity to ask any questions relating to these questions. Communicating through questions, discussion, and reflection during training will help to make your company's code of ethics clearer. Then, lead by example - use these ethics in your everyday work, and others will have a model to follow.

At a pre-determined point, such as annually, review your business' ethics to see if any changes need to be made to update them, make them more clear to others, or if new ones need to be added due to new situations that arise. Once again, involve everyone in this discussion process. If people are given the chance to input on the role ethics will play in the business, they will be more likely to follow them in everyday practice. By giving your staff a stake in the process, they feel responsibility and ownership for the ethics that are created.

Ethics can be tricky to outline, so make them general in nature but not too specific. This will allow more room to apply them well to varying situations as a guide to proper etiquette. The overall involvement of everyone in the business is an essential part of outlining the code, and cannot be stressed enough. It is also a wonderful time to build a team atmosphere which will support the code of ethics as a whole. By implementing the tips above, your company will be successful in implementing its code of ethics with each person involved in the decision making process. 


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