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Does Your Small Business Have an Ethics Policy? Featured

Does Your Small Business Have an Ethics Policy? man holding incandescent bulb

A code of ethics entails a set of standards adopted to allow the conduct of a specific group of people to be governed. It is a rulebook that stipulates what should and should not be done. In a business environment, ethics and morals help govern how staff conduct themselves. Individual businesses have their codes of ethics, which ensure integrity within an organization. As a business leader, you may want to surround yourself with like-minded people who have the same capacity, morals, and values. Otherwise, the business will not operate as you would wish.

Ethics govern the moral principles and how a business operates. They are relevant to business operations and staff. They are part of the company culture. Every business operates based on guidelines for what purpose it deems right or wrong. This means that the code of ethics is critical in keeping a business operating, speaking in one voice, and reading on the same page. Having a well-laid-out code of conduct can help a business determine its priorities, goals and values. It also helps deal with possible future problems in case of legal tussle.

In small businesses, moral and ethical codes of conduct are crucial because there is no universal small business code of ethics. Small business owners need to exhibit high-quality values and ethics.  

Here are some tips you should know when developing a code of ethics for your business.

Why the ethics policy?

Ethics brings equality to a business. It allows every employee, client, and partner to be treated equally without prejudice, honesty, respect, and integrity. With a code of conduct, a business will work towards the same code of behaviour in guiding how everyone thinks, makes decisions and serve customers. It promotes the positive behaviour of employees. How employees act determines the reputation of a business. Furthermore, it determines the responsibility of your business to be transparent, honest and decent.

Set your priorities

Your code of conduct does not work in isolation. Rather, it must be aligned with your organization’s mission statement and the overall goal of your small business. As such, you need to consider your office policies because they significantly inform the ethical code of conduct. While doing the same, you need to ensure that the code is not just for employees but addresses other people, including vendors, outsourced workers, and partners. Therefore, ensure your code takes into account the social responsibility of a company and employees, company goals and guides and rules that employees need to follow. When writing your code of conduct, the first thing you need to think of is the values that are important for your business. Write about how you want your employees to behave and the behaviour you do not want to see. Setting up your business code of conduct can help your organization grow into a big sustainable business that respects professionalism.

Be specific

Although a too detailed code of ethics may not be good, it may be good to give some examples of ethical dilemmas to your code of conduct in cases where there are discrepancies. Elaborate on sensitive topics such as workplace romance and nepotism and make sure they are well addressed and clearly outlined with a procedure to follow.

Appoint a compliance officer

Once you have created your code of ethics, it must be implemented. A copy has to be sent out to every employee through the human resource department to achieve this goal. Employees will then sign and return it to HR. However, it is good to appoint an individual to update the code of conduct and compliance. This person will be the compliance officer, most likely from the HR department. The work of this individual is to handle the ethical breaches and update the code as he or she sees necessary.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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