EVERFI Content Team

To determine the appropriate ethical guidelines for your company, you might consider studying some of the best examples of code of conduct examples for businesses.

What is a code of conduct and why is it important? A company’s code of conduct covers major legal, ethical, and compliance risk areas to help employees make the right choices, even when they’re not easy.

Because it contains such important information, you want to make sure your employees read and engage with your company’s code of conduct. That’s why it needs to contain detailed information, even with any troublesome legalese.

To help your company get a jump-start, we’ve compiled examples from companies with great, yet simple, codes of conduct.

What Constitutes a Great Code of Conduct?

A great code of conduct is one that provides a clear and concise statement of the company’s mission and values, while also covering a comprehensive list of workplace policies and procedures that cover issues such as employee behavior, harassment and discrimination, conflicts of interest, and confidentiality. It should address industry-specific compliance and regulations, and clearly outline the consequences of violating any of the policies or procedures.

Additionally, a great code of conduct should be communicated clearly and effectively to all employees through training sessions, online modules, and regular reminders. Code of conduct should be tailored to the specific needs of the company and its industry while being comprehensive and clear in guiding ethical behavior in the workplace.

What Is the Difference Between Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics?

A code of conduct is a set of guidelines that outlines specific behaviors and actions that are expected of employees within a particular organization. This code typically covers issues such as workplace behavior, dress code, and policies regarding conflicts of interest, confidentiality, and use of company resources.

A code of ethics is a set of principles and values that guide decision-making and behavior within an organization. These principles typically cover broader ethical considerations, such as integrity, honesty, respect, and responsibility, and apply to all aspects of an organization’s activities.

4 Great Code of Conduct Examples from Fortune 500 Companies

Before we delve into the specifics of these top company codes of conduct, it’s important to understand why we chose these particular businesses. These Fortune 500 companies have demonstrated excellence not only in their products and services but also in their commitment to business ethics and corporate responsibility. Let’s take a closer look at each company’s unique approach to their code of conduct.

1. Google’s Company Code of Conduct

One thing that’s great about Google’s company code of conduct is that it’s easy to read. You don’t need a law degree to understand what the company is saying. The tone is conversational, yet they make the points that need to be made with authority.

It’s also easy to find online. The links to different sections are easy to navigate and the answers provided are thorough and detailed. Finally, it addresses many of the issues that should be covered such as retaliation, conflicts of interest, bribery, and confidentiality.

Online Code of Conduct Training

Our Code of Conduct course educates your employees on how to abide by your organization’s ethical guidelines with every business interaction and transaction.

2. Hershey’s Code of Conduct

Hershey provides an excellent business code of conduct that uses a question and answer feature to help employees navigate potentially unethical situations. The Q&A on almost every page helps to clarify the points being made.

Also, the design of the PDF is very appealing. The use of candy and chocolate colors helps to brand the code of conduct, while the bold headlines, hierarchical fonts, and multiple-colored fonts make the document easy to read.

3. Pepsico’s Code of Conduct

Pepsico’s business code of conduct example is extremely detailed. For example, in the section on business gifts, they say exactly what’s considered a gift, and they even provide a specific dollar amount.

Pepsico also encourages employees to speak up when they see or experience unethical behavior. To make it easy for employees to follow these policies, the code of conduct gives clear instructions on reporting, provides resources for who to contact, and explains what will happen once a complaint is filed.

4. Starbucks’ Code of Conduct

One of the interesting things about Starbucks’ code of conduct for employees is their focus on “Speak Up”, encouraging their workforce to raise concerns and providing resources to do so. It shows that the business’ code of conduct isn’t simply limited to discouraging negative behaviors, rather promotes a speak up culture in the workplace.

Additionally, Starbucks has a frequently asked questions section. This section goes over the purpose of the code of conduct and provides additional information on helpline services offered to employees for questions.

How Are These Examples of Business Code of Conduct Useful?

Reading examples of other codes of conduct can be an incredibly helpful tool in developing and improving your own code of conduct. By reviewing codes of conduct from other organizations, you can learn from best practices and gain insights into what works well and what doesn’t. This can help you identify areas to incorporate into your own code of conduct to ensure that it is comprehensive and covers all the necessary areas.

Additionally, reviewing other codes of conduct can help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in your industry. By identifying gaps and areas for improvement, you can avoid mistakes made by others, and ultimately develop a stronger and more effective code of conduct for your organization.

How to Implement or Improve your Companies Code Of Conduct

While creating or improving your company’s code of conduct may seem daunting, it’s actually an opportunity. This is your chance to define what your company stands for, to set the standards for behavior within your organization, and to ensure your employees understand their responsibilities. Done right, a robust code of conduct can foster a positive company culture, boost employee morale, and even enhance your company’s reputation.

Incorporating Code of Conduct into the Company Culture

For a code of conduct to be effective, it needs to be more than just a document that employees sign once and forget. It should be a part of the company’s culture, influencing every decision, from top-level strategy to day-to-day operations. For this, it’s crucial to have leaders who exemplify the code of conduct in their actions.

Employees are more likely to adhere to ethical guidelines if they see their superiors doing the same. As demonstrated by our examples, Google, Hershey, Pepsico, and Starbucks have a commitment to their codes of conduct that resonates throughout the organizations.

Revisiting and Updating

As the business environment and societal norms evolve, so too should your company’s code of conduct. It’s important to review the document periodically and make updates as necessary. Are there new legal regulations to consider? Has your company entered new markets with different cultural norms? Have societal conversations on topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion brought new issues to light?

Staying current with your code of conduct not only protects your company legally, but it also shows your employees and the public that you’re committed to maintaining high ethical standards.

Measuring Impact

It’s important to measure the impact of your code of conduct. This can be done through regular surveys to gauge employees’ understanding and perception of the code, by tracking the number and nature of reported violations, and the effectiveness of disciplinary actions.

Measurement allows you to assess whether your code of conduct is being taken seriously, whether it is effective in preventing unethical behavior, and where improvements may be needed. The ultimate goal is to foster an ethical company culture where the code of conduct serves as a trusted guide for behavior and decision-making.

Examples of What to include in a code of conduct

A comprehensive and effective code of conduct covers all aspects of business operations, both internal and external. It provides clear guidelines for acceptable behavior, sets expectations, and defines the consequences for violations.

By outlining these guidelines, you’re providing your employees with a roadmap for success within your organization and defining your business’s ethics. For an in depth guide on developing your company’s code of conduct, visit How to Develop a Company Code of Conduct.

Internal and External Practices

Internal practices often form the bedrock of a company’s operations. Crafting clear policies in these areas helps ensure smooth daily functioning and promotes a harmonious work environment. Here are key areas your code of conduct might address:

  • Workplace attire: Define the dress code, maintaining a balance between professionalism and comfort.
  • Leave policies: Clarify guidelines for annual leaves, sick leaves, and special leaves.
  • Weather-related policies: Offer guidance for operations during inclement weather scenarios.
  • Breaks: Detail the policies on scheduled breaks and meal times.
  • Induction: Outline the onboarding process for new hires.
  • Role responsibilities: Clearly state job duties for each position.
  • Training: Set expectations for mandatory training sessions.
  • Sickness absence: Discuss protocols for sick leave and associated proof requirements.
  • Time management: Stress on the importance of punctuality and attendance.
  • Use of technology: Frame guidelines for phone usage and personal internet browsing during work hours.
  • Employee benefits: Give an overview of the company benefits package.
  • Reporting hierarchy: Establish the chain of command to resolve issues or seek approvals.
  • Legal compliance: Highlight the importance of adherence to all relevant laws and regulations.

When it comes to external practices, your code of conduct serves as a guidebook for how your company interacts with the outside world. These can include:

  • Confidentiality: Reinforce the need for discretion in handling sensitive company information.
  • Data protection: Stress the importance of privacy and data protection.
  • Intellectual property: Explain how your company respects intellectual property rights.
  • Communication: Discuss the standard for official correspondence with customers, vendors, and other stakeholders.
  • Conflict of interest: Provide a framework for identifying and managing potential conflicts of interest.

By clearly defining these internal and external practices in your code of conduct, you provide clear paths for your employees to navigate their professional responsibilities, fostering a culture of transparency and ethical decision-making.

Company Values and Employee Behavior

Your code of conduct should be a mirror reflecting your company’s core values. These values may include:

  • Business ethics: Underscore your commitment to ethical practices in all business dealings.
  • Social responsibility: Highlight your efforts in giving back to society and contributing positively.
  • Environmental responsibility: Affirm your pledge towards sustainability and protecting the environment.
  • Employee rights: Reiterate respect for workers’ rights and fair treatment.
  • Duty and responsibility: Emphasize everyone’s role in upholding company values.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Showcase your commitment to a diverse, inclusive workplace.

Each of these values translates into expected behaviors from your employees:

  • Professionalism: Detail what constitutes professional conduct in your workplace.
  • Non-discrimination: Affirm your zero-tolerance policy against any form of harassment or discrimination.
  • Use of company assets: Set rules for the responsible use of company resources.
  • Social media usage: Provide guidelines for the appropriate use of social media, especially when representing the company.
  • Communication: Outline the standards for effective and respectful communication.
  • Disciplinary process: Briefly discuss the process and potential consequences for breaching the code of conduct.

With these guidelines in place, your code of conduct will serve as a comprehensive guide for employees, helping them navigate their professional responsibilities while embodying the company’s core values.

Company Code of Conduct Training

These business code of conduct examples are great and well-written, but it’s not enough to just have one piece that may or may not be read. The extremely important content should be delivered in a way that’s impossible to forget. To help your employees understand the information, you can offer code of conduct training.

Your organization’s training should go over each section and enhance your employees’ ethical problem-solving skills so that they can navigate any conflicts or situations that might arise.

Online Code of Conduct Training

Our Code of Conduct course educates your employees on how to abide by your organization’s ethical guidelines with every business interaction and transaction.