We’ll be at Ethisphere’s 2024 Global Ethics Summit in Atlanta, April 22-24. Learn more about the show here.


6 Things to Include in Your Company’s Code of Conduct

6 Things to Include in Your Company's Code of Conduct

By including these six key components, a company code of conduct policy is more than a guideline for conduct, it is a symbol of the company itself.

There’s a reason that most company owners choose to implement a code of conduct in the workplace.

Employers provide the necessary tools for work, such as pens and paper, so it only makes sense to also equip their staff with the resources to conduct themselves appropriately at work.

A good code of conduct policy is a rulebook for conduct, but a great code of conduct truly represents the company’s values and culture. So, the real question is: how do I make my good code of conduct policy great?

The following six are tried and true elements of a great code of conduct policy.

Creating any kind of company-wide policy is a lot of pressure. Download Case IQ’s free Code of Conduct Template to create your policy today.

Message from the CEO

There’s something heartfelt about a document that begins with a message from the CEO.

It expresses leadership's devotion and allegiance to the same values that employees are expected to appreciate.

This should be written firsthand by the CEO with a photo and signature. Use this as an opportunity to set the tone for the entire code of conduct policy. If you’re trying to embrace the casual culture of the company, opt for an informal photo without the tie.

Protect employees and your company.

Case IQ’s modern case management software is a better way to manage employee misconduct. Case IQ can help you improve reporting of incidents and grievances, resolve cases more efficiently and take steps to stop future issues before they happen. Request your demo of Case IQ) to find out how you can track, manage, and prevent employee misconduct incidents all with one tool.

Request a Demo

Company Values

The foundation of a code of conduct policy is rooted in your company’s values. Does your the company favor honesty? Respect? Innovation? If you want your employees to get on board with appropriate conduct they’ll need a bit of context, and company values provide just that.

Check out these 18 of the Best Code of Conduct Examples for inspiration.

A company’s core principles say a lot about its founders, management, investors and employees. It’s like the age-old game of “If you were stranded on a deserted island, name three things you’d bring”. Your answer says a lot more than you think, so choose your company values wisely.

Respect for Others

A code of conduct policy will explain what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate workplace behavior. This refers to interactions between colleagues, employees and employers, clients, customers, stakeholders, and competitors.

Clarify what the company sees as acceptable and unacceptable employee behavior. Describe “good” behavior such as:

  • Open communication
  • Working honestly

And list “bad” behavior too, including:

  • Being violent
  • Making offensive comments or jokes

A good approach to defining good and bad behavior involves soliciting feedback directly from employees. Check out CaseIQ's article on How to Write a Code of Conduct for more information on consulting with others to develop the company policy.

Respect for the Community

Respect for the community is a relatively new section for codes of conduct but that doesn’t mean it is any less important.

Companies now have a bigger role to play. Society is forming expectations for companies to be involved in the community and responsibly interact with the environment.

Take a page out of The Hershey Company’s Code of Conduct when they say, “We are good global citizens”. The company dedicates several pages to discussing environmental responsibility, investing in communities, participating in volunteer programs and the importance of giving back.

Violations and Reporting Misconduct

A company’s code of conduct policy needs to clarify what happens if an employee violates the clauses in this policy and how employees can report misconduct they witness.

Clarify your company’s stance on reporting. Do you have an open-door policy? What is the reporting process for misconduct? Is it anonymous?

Then, outline the procedures for addressing breaches of conduct. Does the company use a zero-tolerance approach? Will an internal investigation take place? What are the possible consequences of acting inappropriately?

Compliance Resources

The final piece to incorporate into your code of conduct is a section that includes compliance resources.

The best codes of conduct policies provide employees with the background reading and supplementary information they need to understand the policy properly. This isn’t to say that employees need to be experts on conduct.

These extras might be laws, regulations or policies relevant to your code of conduct policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should be included in a code of conduct?

A code of conduct should include several key components, such as a message from the CEO, company values, guidelines for respecting other employees as well as clients/customers, procedures for reporting misconduct, consequences for code violations, and compliance resources.

What are code of conduct examples?

Good code of conduct examples should be easy to read and understand, accessible to employees, and in keeping with your company's brand and values. Read some of our favorite code of conduct examples here.

What does the code of conduct not include?

The code of conduct typically does not include detailed legal or compliance information, but rather focuses on outlining the company's values, expected behaviors, and procedures for reporting misconduct.