Prevent Fraud with These 9 Tips from the Codes of Conduct of the World’s Most Ethical Companies
If you think that operating ethically doesn't pay, think again.
According to the 2020 ACFE Report to the Nations, organizations with a code of conduct in place lose half the funds to fraud each year compared to those without one.
i-Sight is proud to call some of the World's Most Ethical Companies our customers. Use these fraud prevention tips from their company policies to encourage more ethical behavior and realize the financial benefits.
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1. Frame Ethics as Essential
Dell's Code of Conduct is titled "How We Win." This frames ethical behavior not as an obligation, but a key to success. The company emphasizes the importance of both greatness and ethics in one line: "Ultimately, we all adhere to one global standard: we win with integrity!"
By showing employees that you only want to succeed if you do so ethically, they're less likely to resort to fraudulent measures to reach their goals.
2. Focus on Tone from the Top
Employees naturally look to their manager as a role model for workplace behavior. If their manager accepts large gifts or swipes supplies, they think that they can, too.
Dell's Code of Conduct includes a section directly speaking to managers about setting the tone of ethics at the top. "It is not enough for you to behave legally and ethically yourself," explains the document. "You must also take affirmative steps to influence your team members to do the same."
It then sets out seven ways managers can influence their employees to act with integrity, including celebrating those who behave ethically and establishing open communication.
3. Include Simple Actions
University Hospitals begins their Code of Conduct with 10 easy-to-understand action rules for ethical conduct. The one-sentence "keys" give employees instructions on how to handle aspects of their job with integrity.
Employees won't remember the rules of a long policy written in "legalese." Instead, explain your expectations clearly and simply. This way, employees are more likely to read, understand and adhere to your anti-fraud policy and measures.
4. Use "We" Statements
Many of the World's Most Ethical Companies use "we" statements in their company policies.
For instance, University Hospitals' Code of Conduct is divided into topic-based sections centred around "we" statements: "We Care About Our Patients", "We Care About Protecting Information", "We Care About Our People", "We Care About Our Community" and "We Care About Our Company and Business Practices".
Using "we" gives employees a sense of belonging. Many company policies, especially concerning fraud and ethics, can sound accusatory or demanding. When employees feel like they're part of something larger than themselves and that everyone at the organization strives toward the same things, they won't want to commit internal fraud.
5. Offer Additional Resources
In order to keep your policies concise and easy to read, you can't include every bit of important information. Instead, Baptist Health South Florida includes an additional resources section in their Code of Ethics.
Their policy points employees to another webpage where they can find other policies and information on ethics, compliance and fraud. When you write your policy, add contact information for employees who can answer questions and give advice, as well as links to related policies and procedure documents.
A strong policy helps prevent fraud by explaining what behavior is unacceptable and why. Download our free fraud policy template to start drafting yours.
6. Make Ethics Part of the Job
To some employees, committing fraud might seem easier than behaving ethically. Sending back an unacceptable client gift could feel embarrassing, or they might only have their company card with them at the grocery store.
Follow Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly)'s lead by making ethical behavior part of their job description. The company's Code of Business Conduct (also called "The Red Book") includes an "Our Responsibilities" section, outlining ethics do's and don't's. Framing rules like work tasks lets employees build ethics into their daily routine, rather than trying to remember the rules when making a decision.
7. Write a Collection of Policies
Sometimes one generic fraud policy isn't the best way to communicate your expectations. Instead, create a collection of policies, each with specific rules for a common ethics concern. For instance, Avangrid has separate policies relating to corruption, insider trading, fair disclosure and more.
Think of common fraud and ethics concerns for your industry. Writing a policy for each one helps employees find the exact information they're looking for when they have questions and lets you go into more detail without overwhelming them with one long document.
RELATED: How to Write a Fraud Policy
8. Include a Note from Your CEO
Employees are more likely to read (and follow) a policy with a friendly tone. Make your policies more personal by including a message from your CEO or other senior manager.
Cambia Health Solutions starts their Code of Business Conduct with a letter from their CEO, Mark Ganz. He explains the purpose of the document and the importance of ethical behavior to the organization.
Putting a face to your ethics/anti-fraud program deters fraudsters because they see they'd be hurting a real person, not a brand.
9. Clarify Points with Q&A's
Employees might feel nervous about asking an ethics question, especially if it concerns potential fraud. If they don't get the advice they need, they might accidentally commit fraud or let another employee's behavior slide.
In Cambia's policy, question-and-answer boxes address common ethics scenarios, such as accepting gifts and retaliation. These put the policy's guidelines into practice, making them easier to understand.
To prevent internal fraud, make your ethics policy clear and positive. Implement these fraud prevention tips in a way that matches your company culture and you could be on the next list of the World's Most Ethical Companies.