Elements of an ethics compliance framework

Today every company is held responsible under the corporate penalty clause at the country level. Companies that follow ethical guidelines and code of conduct and also comply to them fully have greater chances of not getting into legal penalty suits for illegal and unethical behavior.

Every company must demonstrate and nurture its ethical guidelines and follow the ethical process. Corporate ethics would usually entail the following :

  • A documented guideline that is shared with all the employees of the organization. Compliance to the documented code is a must and training is recommended for all levels of employees. The guideline must be in detail, easy to understand and is openly communicated.
  • Compliance procedure: An ethics code will remain incomplete in its own if it is not read by the employees of the company and if they do not agree to it.
  • Enforcement of company policies and procedure: Every policy and procedure is made by the company keeping in mind the culture that the company wants to create in the organization. If there are unethical cases or practice being followed in the company, there must be a procedure to help the whistle –blowers and investigate the case in detail. In most cases such incidents are monitored and solved by Top management for every department in the company
  • An ethics department: If an organization is big in size, it is a must that they have a specific ethics department with ethics officer in it. In cases where the company is either small or midsized the human resource department can take care of the ethics enforcement and its compliance.
  • The top management of the company must ensure that the ethical guidelines and its framework must be reviewed regularly. A champion must be identified from the Sr. Management who should promote and encourage the compliance of ethics throughout the company.
  • The company’s value statement: The value statement of the company must find a place in the ethical guideline. The statement must be short, crisp, clear and should entail the mission of the organization.
  • Encourage whistle blowing: Employees should not fear their own safety in the organization. It must be encouraged so that both unethical and illegal behavior reduces in the organization.

Ethical compliance can be maintained by:

  • Regular training of the employees on ethics
  • By auditing the employees of the company to see if they understand the ethics definition.
  • Encouraging more employees to attend mandatory ethics class
  • Volunteer employees who want to talk about corporate ethics.
  • Conduct seminars for employees at large scale
  • Reward and recognition for the employees who set standards on ethics and its compliance
  • Penalties for the ones who show poor standards of ethics.

If the following elements are included in the ethics compliance framework of an organization, it can create a solid foundation for ethical filtering called ethical decision making in the organization.

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