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What is a Code of Ethics Review?

A code of ethics is a written document that sets forth an organization's values and ethical principles. A code of ethics helps organizations promote an honest, positive, and inclusive work environment.

In addition to establishing a business’s core principles, the code of ethics also sets ethical standards for professionals. It underscores conduct during times of conflict, collaboration, and partnership.

Also referred to as an “ethical code,” the code of ethics reflects the heart of any organization. The written ethical principles reflect the actions that professionals aspire to embody.

A code of ethics review is when a company looks at what the current document contains, determines if items need to be added or eliminated, and adapts it to the existing and new business standards.

Here is an article with more information about the code of ethics in business.

How Often Should a Code of Ethics Be Reviewed?

A code of ethics will evolve as the company does. For example, after periods of scandal, many organizations review their code of ethics to update and clarify their stance on behavior. However, every one to two years is a reasonable frame of reference for reviewing the code of ethics.

Organizations need to ensure their ethical standards always align with contemporary societal norms. The most significant changes to codes of ethics in recent years are rules of conduct.

As the world becomes more accepting of different gender identities, organizations are revisiting how they refer to people in the workplace and promote and maintain diversity.

Conversations about race and equality have also taken the forefront of modern ethical reviews; many companies are improving their hiring policies and working toward creating equal opportunities for Black professionals and People of Color.

Creating a more inclusive environment for everyone requires revisiting the code of ethics and establishing more affirmative actions. In truth, human beings constantly learn to interact better as a team, and the code of ethics should reflect their growth.

Moral values, such as respect and fidelity, as well as codes of conduct and appropriate behavior, all make up a good code of ethics. However, as businesses evolve, they may realize their values have also changed.

Here is an article with information on what to include in a code of ethics.

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Who Should Review a Code of Ethics for a Business?

A business lawyer can review of code of ethics to ensure that it outlines ethical principles and includes appropriate standards to measure individuals’ behavior. Most importantly, a lawyer can provide your business’s code of ethics contains all the necessary compliance laws, processes, and legal procedures.

The company’s tone and mission statement should be reflected in the code of ethics. However, it must also be written and well organized so all staff can understand what is expected of them.

Lawyers review the code of ethics to ensure it contains all the necessary legal components. Unfortunately, some codes of ethics may even be non-compliant with your industry.

The human resources department should also conduct annual ethics reviews. These are detailed assessments of things such as:

  • Company Policies
  • Standards
  • Actions

Collaboration with management and employees helps HR make the most educated and relevant changes for their professionals’ well-being.

Here is an article with more information about reviewing a code of ethics.

What Should I Look for in a Code of Ethics?

Every code of ethics should contain a clear title, introduction from leadership, and outlined standards that establish clear expectations for conduct.

While codes of ethics may vary by industry and organization, a well-written document will always include:

  • A statement of company values.
  • Clear rules of conduct.
  • Moral values.
  • Sections about compliance with industry standards.
  • Discrimination policies.
  • Sanctions for code violations.
  • Additional resources about legality.
  • Contact information for the business’s HR department.

As companies review their code of ethics, they will likely amend certain statements. For example, if new industry standards mandate sustainable practices, the code of ethics should reflect a commitment to environmental preservation.

The company should also ensure that the organization’s ethical standards always judge employees’ actions. The goal of these standards is not to be punitive but to protect and preserve the company’s core values.

Violating a code of ethics can include:

Furthermore, check that your code of ethics is a valuable part of your business’s risk management strategy. Following a clear code of ethics helps companies stay compliant with industry standards and prevent misconduct.

Here is an article with more information on what you should always include in a code of ethics.

How Much Does It Cost to Review a Code of Ethics?

The cost of a code of ethics review varies by attorney, who tend to change between $100 to $750 an hour. The size of the organization and its industry will also affect the cost of reviewing your document.

On average, expect to pay between $250 to $650 for a comprehensive review from an experienced lawyer.

The attorney can also provide suggestions on improving your code of ethics, such as simplifying the language and expanding on certain subjects.

Here is an article with more information on how to write a code of ethics.

How Long Does It Take to Review a Code of Ethics?

Companies will spend 3 to 5 hours reviewing their written code of ethics, but internal reviews may take much longer. Consider exploring how the code is integrated into the workplace and how well professionals embody the company’s values daily.

As part of human resource management, the code of ethics review process can take anywhere from one to three months. Therefore, companies wishing to reevaluate their ethical standards must first collaborate with their employees to determine what areas they need to improve.

Reviewing past incidents and human resources complaints can be helpful when updating a code of conduct. In addition, if common issues are shared among employees, management can identify where their code of ethics needs strengthening.

Here is an article about why every business needs a code of conduct, and what to include in yours.

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ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

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