A code of conduct reflects an organization's values and sets standards for behavior. According to the "Journal of Humanitarian Assistance," a code is used to let everyone within a group and outside of it know exactly what the code’s creators believe. These policies improve operational effectiveness and often establish penalties for violations.
Corporate codes of conduct are developed to inform and encourage employees to act ethically. The Google code of conduct, for example, summarizes its ethical views as “Don’t be evil” on its Investor Relations web page. The detailed code states the company expects contractors and temporary workers to follow it. Other rules within the code include: avoid conflicts of interest, respect co-workers and clients, don’t retaliate against someone who reports wrongdoing and protect confidential information.
Because nonprofits aren’t expected to make money like corporations, their codes of conduct focus on how the organizations can better achieve their missions. Nonprofits often place more value on service to their communities. An international group of medical organizations worked on the creation of a code of conduct in 2008. The “Code of Conduct for Health Systems Strengthening” explains how medical organizations should work with vendors, treat patients, work with local governments and improve medical training.
Universities and high schools create codes of conduct to govern student behavior. The codes cover such issues as plagiarism, drug use and fighting. The North Carolina State University student code of conduct states students can participate in the school’s private disciplinary courts. It also requires students to avoid helping other students cheat in classes, hazing, acting disorderly or setting off fireworks on campus. Some schools require students to read and sign codes as proof they understand the rules.
- student friends image by Edward White from Fotolia.com