Code of ethics

We work with leaders to develop relevant and engaging Codes of Ethics that promote employee understanding and engagement. Most professional organisations today are required to set standards of conduct and accountability for their members however communicating these in ways that engage remains an outstanding challenge for many.  We can help leaders meet this challenge.

In today’s workplace, codes of ethics cannot be dictated.  While behavioural protocols are necessary to provide written behavioural boundaries, they are only valuable when:

  • All members have a chance to contribute to their development as this builds engagement and buy-in to the final code
  • All members have an opportunity for training so they can understand what the code means within their work context.  For this reason, the communication and education strategy that surrounds the roll-out of a code is as important as the protocol itself
  • The consequences of not abiding by the code is made explicit to members as well as the measures that will be taken for those who behave inappropriately
  • The Code of Ethics is aspirational and is regularly used as a motivating and inspirational communication vehicle and not just used as a disciplinary tool when incidents occur
  • The Code is explicitly used in decision making concerning the profession
  • The Code is actively supported and role modeled from the top

We see a Code of Conduct and a Code of Ethics as different protocols with two different aims and are therefore best kept separate.  A Code of Professional Conduct sets the behavioural minimum required for a profession.  It is often considered a legal document and members may be asked to ‘sign up’ to its standards in order to maintain membership.  The Code of Professional Conduct is designed to protect the integrity of the profession and is a behavioural based document often containing specific examples of behaviour that members can or cannot engage in.

A Code of Ethics is a values-based document.  It outlines values that guide decision making for the profession when explicit behavioural standards are not set.  A Code of Ethics is required as a Code of Professional Conduct cannot contain all possible scenarios to be faced in a workplace.  The Code of Ethics is often a shorter document that is easily referred to and remembered by members.  While the values contained in a Code of Ethics are often quoted at the start of a Code of Professional Conduct, it is advisable to keep the two separate to facilitate the usability of both.

Our services here include:

  • Sitting as external members of an ethics panel
  • Developing appropriate protocols for  internal  ethics committees
  • Providing advice to the committee on ethical issues
  • Providing advice on appropriate procedures to enhance the commitment and effectiveness of the Code of Ethics and its dissemination
  • Providing advice regarding appropriate investigative services and conduct investigations where applicable
  • Reviewing and providing advice on appropriate initiatives to support the intent of the Code


Revision of numerous behavioural protocols for one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies.  This included the company’s Code of Conduct, Values Statement, Ethics Policy, Operating Policy and Whistleblower Policy.  The review was designed to identify potential overlaps and synergies between the protocols and any existing gaps against world’s best practice in this area.  A revised protocol was released that embedded all the principles of the previous collection of documents together with a communication plan for its roll out.