The company must do business ethically to remain competitive in today’s society. We must do the right thing to minimize the exposure of the company to litigation and damage to our reputation. The company’s image affects all involved and we must protect our employees, customers, and investors.
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The company must have the goal of upholding ethical principles and realize the profit margin is secondary. Why is this important? Our company sells toys to children. Does our company want to rationalize to our employees, customers, and investors why a product we produced injured an innocent consumer with devastating long-term effects? I should think not. We must develop a resolution that meets the interest of our company and examines all possible solutions.
A company must view ethics as a values-based culture for it to be ethically successful. This often means a company looks beyond the notion of legal compliance to establish a corporate code of ethics. Integrity must be prevalent among the company for the code of ethics to be successful.
The following are proposals the company can utilize to ensure the ethical decision process takes place an all levels of our organization: •
Identifying Investors: Who is interested in the well being of the company? Who will be affected by decisions made? This is why it is important to identify those with an interest in the company. The outcomes of all decisions will impact those investors.
Recognizing consequences: This is an important tactic in ethical decisionmaking. The decision you make can affect others—positive or negative. By
CODE OF ETHICS
recognizing the consequences and analyzing the probable outcomes can help the individual making the decision prioritize the values that will help support the decision made. A Corporate Code of Ethics should be developed within our company. We have a responsibility to our employees, customers, and investors to make the right decisions. This will help us to operate successfully within the daily operations of our business. We can establish and define acceptable behaviors within the company. We can promote a framework for behavior that includes higher standards of practice. It should make sense to our company’s employees and be written in language that is understandable and clear. It should also integrate our company’s mission and vision. By doing this, our employees can see our company “completing the loop”. This will help provide guidance and support throughout our organization. Our employees will be able to utilize the code of ethics to analyze situations daily and help them make the decision to do the right thing. I have reviewed the Toys “R” Us corporate code of ethics. The following components should be included to create a suitable code of ethics: •
Purpose of Codes
Codes of Conduct
Communicating the Code
Purpose of Codes Behaviors expected within companies are guided by codes. Codes that are effective promote fundamental principles and values. The code will include all the
CODE OF ETHICS
critical elements that are fundamental to the company’s values as in the Toys R’ Us Code of Ethics. Codes of Conduct Codes of Conduct often stand-alone. However, they can be supplemented within a Code of Ethics manual, as Toys R’ Us has done. Our company needs to establish what conduct will not be acceptable within our company. Certain conduct cannot be engaged in during work time hours and within the actual work place. Employees must have knowledge of what is acceptable and what is not. As with Toys R’ Us, our company should set up a toll free telephone number to allow for reporting of violations in our code of conduct and ethics.
Communicating the Code There are many ways to get the information about the Code of Ethics out to the employees. However, to just post the Code of Ethics on a wall is the absolute wrong way. This can cause more harm than having no code at all. Codes do not implement themselves, thus just printing the code out on paper and hanging it up does not mean it is implemented. The employees must have education on the development of the code, communicating the code, interpreting the code and enforcing the code. For example, all new employees will be given education regarding the Code of Ethics. Training and education will need to be reviewed annually while employed with our company as Toys R’ Us requires for associates.
CODE OF ETHICS
Conclusion A good code has an understanding of the culture of the organization. Educational programs on ethics are more effective if the employees understand the code. The code must spell out the rules, values, and legal ramifications of the organization. A company code of ethics is necessary to be successful. Our company must prove to our employees that we believe in our code of ethics and will strive to back the words within our code. Our code must be referenced on a constant basis by all levels of management.