Committing to Codes of Ethics
The following article was submitted by Berchem Moses PC. It is posted here with permission.
From the U.S. Supreme Court to the proliferation of artificial intelligence in the workplace, the importance of organizational ethics has recently been in the news.
The character, habits, and customs of an organization define how the organization functions and is viewed in the eyes of others.
A strong commitment to ethics breeds trust and confidence.
Code of Ethics
With many pushing for ethics reform and ethical awareness in organizations, this is a good time for employers to re-evaluate the importance of establishing or maintaining a robust code of ethics.
Employers should have a code of ethics for their employees for several important reasons:
Promote Ethical Behavior: By establishing a code of ethics, employers can set clear and defined expectations of conduct in the workplace.
Having a code of ethics that is publicized and enforced can promote a culture of honesty, integrity, and fairness within an organization.
Protect the Reputation and Brand: Ethical misconduct by employees can significantly damage an employer’s reputation and brand image.
A code of ethics helps prevent behavior that could harm the organization’s standing in the eyes of customers, clients, and the public. It demonstrates a commitment to responsible and ethical business practices.
Foster Trust and Employee Engagement: When employees are aware of and align with a code of ethics, it fosters trust within the organization.
Employees feel confident that their colleagues and superiors are held to high ethical standards. This trust creates a positive work environment, encourages teamwork, and promotes employee engagement.
Encourage Responsible Decision-Making: A code of ethics provides a framework for employees to make ethical decisions when faced with dilemmas or conflicting situations.
It helps them navigate complex problems by providing guiding principles. This promotes responsible decision-making and helps employees maintain ethical behavior even in challenging circumstances.
Support Stakeholder Relationships: Employers interact with various stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, investors, and the community.
A code of ethics demonstrates a commitment to ethical conduct in these relationships, building trust and strengthening partnerships.
It can positively influence stakeholders’ perception of the organization and its willingness to act responsibly.
Mitigate Risks and Liabilities: No article written by a lawyer is complete without discussing legal risk and liability.
A code of ethics helps mitigate these risks by providing guidelines and standards that employees must follow, reducing the likelihood of misconduct.
A code of ethics can help employees understand their legal obligations and guide them in making decisions that comply with relevant laws.
It reduces the risk of legal violations and potential penalties resulting from non-compliance.
Employers should communicate their code of ethics to all employees and train them in its contents.
No one in the organization should be immune from compliance, from the C-suite to the shop floor.
A code of ethics must be more than simply a risk mitigation tool but a set of clear rules embedded in the ethos of an organization.
Employers of all sizes, for-profit, nonprofit, or governmental, should take the time to establish, modify, or review their organization’s code of ethics.
About the author: Christopher Henderson is an associate with Berchem Moses PC’s labor and employment department. He represents public sector employers in large employment disputes, and has extensive experience in public sector labor relations.
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