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18 of the Best Code of Conduct Examples

A great code of conduct is concise, easy to understand and reflects the values of an organization. Write or update your own code of conduct using these outstanding examples.

Posted by Ann Snook on February 17th, 2022

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In February 2022, CNN president Jeff Zucker was forced to resign when the network discovered he had been hiding a romantic relationship with another employee. While office romances are not prohibited at CNN, employees are required to disclose them.

Though this incident ousted a top figure in the company, CNN did the right thing by enforcing their policy as soon as they discovered an infraction.

Your organization’s code of conduct should be clear in both its rules and consequences, as well as applied consistently, regardless of the person’s position. A strong code of conduct can also reduce your company’s risk of embarrassing public scandals and protect your employees from harm.

For example, a zero-tolerance approach to harassment could deter a manager from yelling at their employees. Or, explaining your company’s conflict of interest policy might keep an employee from unwittingly committing fraud.

Encouraging an ethical culture with your code of conduct creates a safer, more productive workplace while helping you prevent internal incidents.

Not sure where to start when writing yours? These examples from honorees on Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Companies list show how to create a document that’s thorough, engaging, on-brand, and helpful.

 


What Makes a Great Code of Conduct?

Writing a strong code of conduct requires a thorough understanding of your company, including its culture, mission, values, and vision.

A great code of conduct is:

  • Written for the reader (your employees). It is easy to understand and doesn’t include any technical or legal jargon.
  • Comprehensive. It covers all important details that may impact the daily lives of employees and answers common questions that may arise.
  • Supported by leadership. It has been acknowledged and approved by the company’s senior management team. This is often demonstrated in the form of a foreword written by the CEO or President.
  • Accessible. It is available to all employees, current investors, and potential investors.
  • Visually appealing. It follows a style that is clean and reflective of your organization’s brand.

 

Below are 18 outstanding code of conduct examples that you can use as inspiration to update or write your own.
(A ✓ denotes a particularly exceptional feature of the code of conduct)


AT&T

 

AT&T’s Code of Business Conduct is readily available online. It’s published under the policies section of the “About AT&T” portion of its website for current and future stakeholders to review.

AT&T emphasizes the values it maintains and employees’ responsibilities to the company, shareholders, customers, and each other. The document also includes other relevant policies the reader can reference within each section.

Each section of the code includes its own frequently asked questions box, with real workplace examples of confusing scenarios. Finally, a visual decision-making model helps employees decide how to approach a situation and, if they still aren’t sure, offers contact information for further help.

✓ Concise
✓ FAQs


A code of conduct is just the beginning.

Enforcing it is the key to a functional, ethical workplace. See how i-Sight can help you manage your workplace investigations with ease. Book your demo now.

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Hanes Brands

 

A quick glance at the Hanes Brands Global Code of Conduct reveals a clear, unifying theme: excellence. This theme acts as the foundation for every component of the code of conduct, including rules about the use of company assets, interacting with coworkers, conflicts of interests, and workplace safety. By embedding one of its core values into its code of conduct, Hanes Brands is able to demonstrate its strong commitment to the business standards it has developed.

The company’s code of conduct also includes addenda that outline necessary definitions, explanations behind the rules, and links to other relevant policies. This code of conduct is well organized and designed, easy to understand, and comprehensive.

✓ Visually Appealing
✓ Well Organized


Kellogg Company

 

The Kellogg Company’s Code of Ethics serves the same purpose as a Code of Conduct, but bases the document around the company’s core values and ethical standards.

The policy is attractive and appealing, drawing inspiration from the grain farms that gave us the company’s first cereal products. Beyond its visual appeal, however, this code of conduct is extremely well written and organized. The code is divided into employee responsibilities, complete with how and why each one is key to the Kellogg’s way of conducting business.

The Kellogg Company has also included several quizzes, definitions, and question and answer boxes. These are designed to help employees make decisions when confronting problems that range from personal social media use to conflicts of interest. This code of conduct does an excellent job of promoting the company’s culture while clearly indicating how employees should act.

✓ Visually Appealing
✓ Great Situational Examples

Starbucks

 

The Starbucks Standards of Business Conduct begins by outlining the mission and values that Starbucks aims to uphold as a company.

The document then dives into detailed descriptions of organizational expectations with respect to the work environment, business practices, intellectual property, and community involvement. In many instances, the company indicates where or who employees can refer to for assistance or more information.

Starbucks’ code of conduct also answers several questions that employees can reference when facing uncertainty. These short Q&A sections help readers understand how they should act in certain situations and why that behavior reflects the standards created by Starbucks.

Additionally, Starbucks has included a unique ethical decision-making framework to assist employees when they are faced with ethical dilemmas in the workplace.

✓ Well Organized
✓ Great Situational Examples
✓ FAQs


PepsiCo

 

PepsiCo’s Global Code of Conduct is an extensive document that covers a variety of topics including responsibilities of individual employees, respect in the workplace, and responsibilities of the company to its shareholders.

As a massive global entity, PepsiCo has ensured that its code of conduct is easy to understand (in several languages) and very clear in its expectations for employees.

As with any strong code of conduct, PepsiCo’s code has rooted its expectations in one of the key behaviors of “The PepsiCo Way”: “Acting with Integrity.” The company has also dedicated an entire section of the code to explaining how the code will be administered. This includes information on investigations related to misconduct and disciplinary actions the company may take.

PepsiCo’s code of conduct also encourages employees to report bribery, violence, or other misconduct by contacting the company’s hotline.

✓ Well Organized
✓ Visually Appealing
✓ Great Examples and Definitions


Your code of conduct should outline how to behave not just in the office, but online too.

Use this social media policy checklist to set expectations for appropriate online behavior.

Social Media Policy Checklist

Sony Corporation

 

Sony’s Code of Conduct, opens with the company’s purpose, followed by its core values. The policy is concise, yet comprehensive. It covers topics such as harassment, product safety, intellectual property, and corruption.

The document also includes opening messages from Sony’s President/CEO and Executive Vice President. These put a face to the rules, encouraging employees to hold themselves to the company’s high standards in the workplace.

Finally, the code of conduct explains how to report concerns on Sony’s ethics hotline and what actions and what actions the company takes after receiving a report.

✓ Concise
✓ Well Organized


Mastercard

 

Mastercard’s Code of Conduct starts by naming the company’s purpose and explaining how it is applied to work in a purpose manifesto. The policy also includes a visual aid called “The Mastercard Way” that illustrates core values and responsibilities.

The code of conduct’s design is not only attractive, but also makes the document easier to understand. Images and visual decision-making models make the content more engaging and help separate sections and lists.

This document explains where and to whom employees can turn with questions and reports of misconduct. It also links to further resources, such as the company’s Compliance Corner for employees.

✓ Visually Appealing
✓ Well Organized


Microsoft

 

Microsoft’s Standards of Business Conduct have been drafted around one central theme: trust.

The company emphasizes that trust is an important aspect of its operations, including with customers, governments, fellow employees, investors, and representatives. The code of conduct also offers a process to help employees make difficult decisions that reflect Microsoft’s values and standards.

Microsoft provides its employees with a visually appealing and easy-to-read document that is reflective of the organization’s values. The company highlights that the responsibilities covered in the code of conduct apply to all employees of the company, including managers, executives, and members of the Board of Directors.

✓ Concise
✓ Well Organized
✓ Visually Appealing


Allstate

 

Allstate has a detailed and easy-to-follow Global Code of Business Conduct for employees. The code outlines the expectations that employees must meet, each with rules and procedures explaining how to achieve it.

Additionally, the company’s code of conduct provides definitions and examples of potentially unfamiliar terms. The policy also uses question and answer boxes to provide real-life situations when a rule could apply.

Allstate’s comprehensive code of conduct includes information on cross-border business, diversity, protecting company information, community involvement, and much more.

✓ Well Organized
✓ Great Situational Examples


Royal Caribbean Group

 

Royal Caribbean Group’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics starts by naming the company’s core values, then explains why the policy exists and who must follow it. Each section includes multiple question and answer boxes and “practical tips” to illustrate how the rules will look in practice.

The document also includes a decision-making flowchart to help employees in ethically confusing scenarios. It is easy to understand and sticks to the company’s branding.

The code covers a variety of topics related to Royal Caribbean’s operations, including health and safety, choosing responsible suppliers, protecting the environment, and fair competition.

✓ Well Organized
✓ Great Situational Examples


Best Buy

 

Best Buy’s Code of Ethics frames employee conduct guidelines through ethical standards. The policy is organized intuitively and written in plan language, making it easy to understand.

The code discusses the company’s purpose, values, and guiding behaviors and defines the expectations of employees and leadership alike.

Within each section of the code, Best Buy has includes a “What If?” example scenario of how to apply its rules, as well as links to the company’s other policies that can give further detail.

✓ Well Organized
✓ Visually Appealing


IBM

 

The Business Conduct Guidelines created by IBM provide employees with a clear understanding of the expectations of their employer. This code of conduct is grounded in the company’s guiding principles and provides detailed explanations with examples.

IBM also includes several side notes to further explain concepts and illustrate potential situations that could be ethically confusing.

Additionally, the company provides links to several additional resources and policies that may be helpful to employees and investors.

✓ Well Organized
✓ Visually Appealing


General Motors

 

The General Motors (GM) Code of Conduct is comprehensive yet easy to understand. It is clearly worded, with simple explanations.

The code specifies who it applies to, how it will be upheld, and the expectations set for employees. GM uses the term “we” throughout their code of conduct to ensure that all employees, including senior managers and directors, are held to the same standard.

The GM code of conduct includes a decision-making model that employees can follow when facing ethical dilemmas.

The company has also included several short Q&A sections to explain how employees should act when they are in certain situations. The document provides links to several additional policies and resources, such as the company’s ethics hotline.

✓ Concise
✓ Well Organized
✓ Visually Appealing


L’Oreal

 

L’Oreal’s Code of Ethics simple design makes it easy to read and scannable.

Its sections clearly define what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable using “We Must” and “We Must Not” lists. The document also answers ethical questions using example scenarios.

The code emphasizes a culture of openness and transparency, explaining why and how reporting concerns is important. Each section also includes suggestions for who to report to with concerns on that topic (e.g. safety, competition, data use).

✓ Well-Organized
✓ Great Situational Examples


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Kohl’s

 

Kohl’s Code of Ethics has a cute design that is both on-brand and engaging. The document begins with the company’s purpose statement and values, then explains that it is every employee’s responsibility to uphold them. The code’s visual aids, short paragraphs, and lists make it very easy to read.

The policy explains each rule and standard through the lens of the company’s values and reputation. Employees are also given examples, definitions, and additional resources to explain concepts throughout the code.

✓ Well Organized
✓ Visually Appealing


Visa

 

Visa’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics is clear, detailed, and comprehensive. Each section contains a few key rules and explanations of how to apply them, as well as helpful notes, example scenarios, and/or links to other policies where employees can find more information.

One of the code’s most unique features is its extensive resource section at the end. It contains contact information and steps on how to report concerns on every topic from data privacy to HR incidents. Employees can easily navigate this section and report quickly if they see something amiss.

✓ Great Situational Examples
✓ Well Organized


Nokia

 

Nokia’s Code of Conduct is a detailed and thorough document.

It highlights key policies that all employees should be familiar with. Each section of the code of conduct also provides employees with a clear understanding of what their responsibilities are and red flags that may arise in different situations.

This easy-to-understand document is focused on helping employees make the best choices based on the company’s values. Nokia has also provided a clear description of reporting processes, retaliation policies, and corrective action procedures.

✓ Well Organized
✓ Visually Appealing
✓ Dedicated Mobile App (iOS and Android)


Hewlett-Packard

 

Integrity at HP, the company’s code of conduct document, is a clear and detailed guide to employee behavior. It begins with the three components of “The HP Way” and includes a visual decision-making guide to help employees with ethical conundrums.

Next, four brief but detailed sections outline HP’s responsibilities: promise, people, company, relationships, and impact. Each section explains “What We Do” and “How We Do It” to make the rules easier for employees to understand.

Many of the sections also include “Act with Integrity” question and answer boxes. These explain common ethically confusing situations that employees might encounter at work.

✓ Great Situational Examples
✓ Well Organized

 



Ann Snook
Ann Snook

Marketing Writer

Ann is a marketing writer at i-Sight Software. She writes about issues related to investigations of fraud, employee misconduct, corporate security, Title IX, ethics & compliance and more.

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