Sustainability: creating a code of conduct

Creating a more sustainable society isn’t just about making solid eco-friendly decisions – it’s also about creating a fair and respectful environment where ethical decisions are a given and everyday actions are congruent to that goal. As organisations head in this direction of increased integrity, transparency and honesty they need to consider how they unite the whole workforce on this journey.

At Something Big, we’re committed to being ethical in every way and every day. We understand that we’re responsible for our decisions and actions, as an organisation, as a team and as individuals. We’ve taken the challenges brought to us by COVID-19 and used them as a force to bounce back better as a business. In this blog we’re sharing how we’ve used the development and introduction of a code of conduct to align our team and organisation on our ethics.

What is a code of conduct?

A code of conduct is a great reference point for an organisation to lay out their expected standards of behaviour, promote ethics and demonstrate the professional culture required. It often covers employees, supply partners, contractors and customers alike so that everyone can sing to the same tune. Generally, it comes in the form of a written set of statements and policies but it can also be supported by video messages, training and shorter, bite-sized key points.

How do you implement a code of conduct?

Obviously, this will depend on the size and set-up of your organisation but it’s definitely worth considering the implementation beyond merely publishing the code. Most organisations will have several policies that are published in documents like terms and conditions, NDAs and staff handbooks, but to maximise commitment to the code of conduct it’s best not to introduce it in this slightly under the radar ‘small print’ way. Instead our advice would be to support it with training, with context to the overarching ethical sentiment that comes with it and to support it with a more formal acceptance from employees and supply partners who can be asked to ‘sign up to’ the standards it lays out.

How should the code of conduct be developed?

Like most things it’s best when there is collaboration that enables various functions across the business to embrace and commit to the standards being laid out, ensuring they are practical and realistic. From a communications point of view we also recommend that, unlike some policies which may have been more heavily influenced by law and regulations, this document should be written in plain language so there is no wriggle room for misinterpretation. Everyone needs to be able to easily pick this document up and understand it.

What should a code of conduct cover?

The full contents will be down to each individual organisation and may depend on the kind of work they carry out and relationships they have, but here’s an example of what we have covered in ours:

  • How we treat each other: from respecting diversity, to looking after our wellbeing and eradicating bullying and harassment.
  • Our business practices: from taking our data security and confidentiality responsibilities seriously, to simply paying our supply partners on time.
  • Having a voice and speaking up: ensuring there are sound standards around the ability to whistle blow or call out bad or unethical practice to help keep the whole organisation on the right path.
  • Supporting the community around us: remembering no business is an island and that instead we have an impact on the community around us, laying out our standards for supporting the charity sector and business community.

Our ethical journey

At Something Big we’ve made a commitment to our people, our planet and our profit in equal measure. We’re working hard to thrive but not at any cost. Developing our ethical code helped us lay our standards out, clearly demonstrating how we behave, as employers, as employees and as citizens of our communities. We see the principles of this code as the non-negotiable minimum standards and we expect everyone who works with us (including our clients and supply partners) to uphold the most ethical standards. We did this simply because we believe in fairness and always doing the right thing. Feel free to check out our code of conduct here.

Can we help you on your ethical journey? We’re experts in helping organisations with their internal communications and employee engagement. Whether you need help uniting your workforce on your code of conduct or a more general journey to business success, talk to us.