Almost invariably, when you are on a path, you’re going to get somewhere. And, as long as you have something to guide you and you follow that guide, you’ll get where you want to be. Most organizations, just like the U.S. government, have set down their guide in the form of a constitution or charter. When it comes to ethics & compliance, that constitution takes the form of a code of conduct. To take that logic a step a further, legislation derived from that organization is presented in the form of policy. We’ve all heard (and no doubt have an opinion) on the policies of a particular administration. When it comes to the administration of a U.S. president, we know that, regardless of our political slant, the code by which that leader leads is the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights, “the law of the land.”
A company’s employee code of conduct should always be looked up to as a guide. It’s just that important, if you wish to retain and extend an ethical enterprise. Your code is the foundation for your policies that will follow. You might have a “chicken-and-egg” moment here and think, but it was my policy on such-and-such a matter that led our company’s code to be what it is. But is that really the case? Sure, maybe you had established a policy before you published your employee code of conduct, but didn’t you already have that mindset, that direction, that outlook upon your business, established, at least in theory if not action?
Apologies to any constitutional lawyer reading this, but I believe that the American founding fathers established and put forth the U.S. Constitution, the original Code of the United States, based on their beliefs in the way that government should be run. Every piece of legislation since then, and every policy, has reflected that Constitution. In running your business, does your code of ethics reflect what you stand for? And does it support your policies?