Posted by: healingtheworkplace | March 14, 2009

How to Write a Code of Conduct

Hello there,

In August last year I wrote about organizational codes of conduct. That post received quite a few hits so I thought I would add to it today. Since August I have also been doing some research into what consititutes a good workplace harassment/discrimination policy. Of course no two policies are alike…

But…it appears that the “best” workplace harassment/discrimination policies start with a clear and understandable “code of conduct”.

Some organizations start with a general code of conduct, e g Canadian Blood Services and then create a “respect in the workplace policy” that sets the stage for the type of work environment that the organization envisions.

The Blood Service’s policy explicitly states,

“It is expected that employees will conduct all interactions with donors, visitors, clients and fellow employees in accordance with our Shared Values of Safety, Integrity, Quality, Respect, Excelling, Accountability and Openness which represent a common set of beliefs about how we work.”

What a mouthful!

The Blood Services then goes on to describe in detail the type of behaviors expected of employees.

Similarly The City of Calgary has also written a “code of conduct” which includes a “Guide to Respectful Workplace Policy”. This respectful workplace policy provides examples of both respectful and disrespectful workplace behaviors.

In summary, codes of conduct are guidelines for the type of behaviors that contribute to a respectful, harassment-free organization.

Most codes begin with the organization’s core values.

If you are just beginning the process of developing a code of conduct for your organization you’ll find plenty of helpful resources on the internet. The Ethics Resource Center website highlighted here has an “ethics toolkit” and “resource articles”.

If you go to the site map at the top of the ERC home page and click on “resources” you will be directed to a page with information on how to write a code of conduct.

Whatever you do DON’T do this alone! You need to get input from all levels of the organization and perhaps from other stakeholders as well. Before you start talking with people be clear about your objectives. What is it that you want the code of conduct to accomplish?

There are many examples of codes of conduct on the internet and you can find these by googling “codes of conduct”.

Some codes are short, e g half a page and some are as long as 25 pages. Some stand alone and some have included detailed respect in the workplace guidelines or policies.

Finally, creating or revising an organizational code of conduct is a rare opportunity to engage your employees in conversations about the type of work environment that is important to them and how they can help each other to really live the organization’s values. Don’t blow it!





  1. nobody cares

    • Hi Jona, what’s up?

  2. […] How to Write a Code of Conduct March 2009 2 comments 5 […]

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