It helps that we are a small company and that we know all our suppliers personally and visit them regularly, however, as a young company we also recognize there is still much to be done and that a process of continual improvement is vital if we are to succeed ethically, morally and ecologically.
We are committed to developing an ethics program using the guidance of The Institute Of Business Ethics (see below) that will help us live and work by standards that we and our customers expect.
EIGHT STEPS for a company wishing to develop its own corporate ethics program.
Unless a senior person - hopefully the CEO - is prepared to drive the introduction of a business ethics policy, the chances of it being a useful tool are not high.
Corporate values and ethics are matters of governance. The board must be enthusiastic not only about having such a policy but also about receiving regular reports on its operation.
Merely endorsing a standard code or copying that of another will not suffice. It is important to find out on what topics employees require guidance.
Use a framework that addresses issues as they affect different constituents or shareholders of the company. The usual ones are: shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and local/national community. Some might even include competitors.
This should be distributed in booklet form or via a company intranet. Existing policies, for example on giving and receiving gifts or the private use of company software, can be incorporated. Guidance on how the code works should also be included.
The code needs piloting - perhaps with a sample of employees drawn from all levels and different locations. An external party such as the Institute of Business Ethics will comment on drafts.
Publish and send the code to all employees, suppliers and others. State publicly that the company has a code and implementation program that covers the whole company. Put it on your Web Site and send it to joint venture and other partners.
Practical examples of the code in action should be introduced into all company internal (and external) training programs as well as induction courses. Managers should sign off on the code regularly and a review mechanism should be established. A code 'master' needs to be appointed.
Having a code of ethics with an implementation program is the minimum requirement for reputation management. It is a kind of prevention medicine: without such a program a corporation is vulnerable simply because it has neglected to take business ethics seriously.