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Not All Codes Are Created Equal

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Not All Codes Are Created Equal

When we partner with a company to do a Code of Conduct re-write or re-fresh, we typically benchmark its existing Code (or Codes they like) against some we consider best in class. It’s always interesting to hear companies tell us about Codes they like. We’ve seen some Codes that belong in the pages of graphic arts journals – the imagery, the style, the theme – they’re that good, from a visual perspective. But the desire for white space and a clean look often translates into highly impactful, often colorful and usually brief text blocks. So what you get is something beautiful to look at, but inadequate for the poor guy in the sales department who just wants to know the company policy on gifts and entertainment.

On the flip side, we also see Codes with comprehensive coverage…and I mean comprehensive. You can definitely find the answer to most ethics questions in their pages, if you can just stay awake long enough to read it. Too often the company code is a compilation of legal policies, strung together into a single document.

The old adage, “form follows function,” seems to me to be just as relevant to Codes of Conduct as it is to great architecture. The best ones, from my perspective, are the ones that hit just the right balance between great design and great content. Accenture’s Code comes to mind – it’s built around the idea of being good stewards – and has some great imagery, but it also has comprehensive coverage of topics. Best of all, it’s written in a way you can understand. And let’s face it, employees who understand their company’s code will find it easier to comply with it.

We believe that one of the best services we can provide to our clients is to know what others are doing and then combine award-winning writing with award-winning design to achieve just the right mix of form and function.

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