A code of ethical standards is an important set of principles that governs your company's direction and employees' activities. This code can be revised with input from employees if you include them in the process. The standards should reflect the character of your company and its future direction. As the leader, you'll play an important role in the change process, and it's your job to show employees that you believe in the code and have made its revision a top priority.

Managing Change

There are three major options for planning the revision of a business code of ethical standards. You can keep the project at the senior leadership level, designate a task force to perform the entire project or use an organization-wide process to get maximum input and involvement in the revision project. Your goal may be the last option, but select the most feasible approach given the present condition of your business.

Considering Your Changed Workforce

You may be tempted to polish a business code of standards that has existed for many years, but the composition of your workforce has probably changed significantly since it was written. Instead, try a more culturally balanced approach by looking around at what other businesses have recently included in their ethical standards. Also, consider the composition of your workforce. What you consider to be normal in terms of ethical standards is subjective, or based on your culture. Think globally in terms of which business standards are common across different cultures. This is crucial for globalized companies.

Business Regulations

Some companies are governed by professional associations, government agencies or other entities that influence their business standards. An example is a company regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which must follow certain standards, such as avoiding practices that could be considered insider trading. Research external laws, rules and regulations that could affect your code of ethical standards. If you write the new code to fit external rules, you protect your company from future problems.

Matching Expectations

Revising your code ethical standards is an opportunity to improve the level of communication with employees. Influence the company's future by ensuring that it includes behaviors expected of all workers. If recruits are given a copy of the new code of ethics and asked questions about it during the recruitment process, they have a chance to consider its compatibility with their personal ethics. Ensure that employees have expectations that match yours, or you will run into problems with managing their behavior.