What is Organisational Ethics

Organisational ethics involves understanding how values ? our standards of right, good and fair conduct? shape the decisions and actions of organisations and those people making decisions on its behalf. The actions of organisations and its stakeholders need to conform to a set of ethical standards as defined by society, by laws and regulations, and within the organisations, by policies and procedures.

Is there a difference between a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct?

A Code of Ethics generally entails the ethical standards to which an organisation commits itself, both as an organisation and in respect of individual conduct by members of the organisation. The Code of Ethics normally contains a brief values statement- a short, aspirational document listing and defining a organisation`s core ethical values, ideals or principles; and a code of conduct - a longer, enforceable, compliance-oriented, operational document setting out policies, procedures and rules regarding best practices relating to daily operational issues affecting the organisation.

What is a Total Ethics Management Programme (TEMP)?

A Total Ethics Management Programme (TEMP) refers to a systematic approach to addressing an organisation?s ethical culture. It typically includes the creation and maintenance of an organisational environment where everyone understands and consistently applies an agreed-to set of core values to their individual and collective decisions and actions. In most cases it presumes a series of events necessary to establish the requisite supporting systems and processes and is followed by an ongoing commitment to, and investment in, maintaining that ethical culture. King II, Section 4, informs the elements of a TEMP.

These are:

  • Senior management commitment;
  • Values and vulnerabilities assessment;
  • Code of Ethics development
  • Ethics management infrastructure creation; and
  • Ethical culture integration.

What are Ethics Officers?

Ethics Officers are typically mid-level to upper-level managers tasked to manage the organisation?s Total Ethics Management Programme (TEMP).

Their responsibilities will often include:

  • Maintenance and updating of the organisation`s Code of Ethics;
  • Ethics education and training;
  • The ethics communications strategy;
  • The employee guidance/help line - where employees can get advice on how to manage ethical issues;
  • The whistleblower/hotline/tip-offs line - where employees and others can report observed or suspected ethical misconduct;
  • Monitoring and oversight of the ethics programme;
  • Coordinating investigations of suspected misconduct;
  • Ensuring the consistent application of appropriate discipline for ethics violations; and
  • Gathering data necessary for informing senior management and the Board of Directors regarding overall effectiveness of the ethics management programme and the ethical well-being of the organisation.