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Create an Airtight Code of Ethics

March 27, 2017

In finance and accounting, developing processes that will maintain the highest standards for internal and external compliance can be challenging—but not impossible. Consider these shared qualities from some of the most successful codes of ethics developed by public companies:


Don’t rely on vague principles to guide your team. A strong program begins with a well-researched written code of ethics that states the exact behavior expected from every employee in each of their roles. Be sure to follow up with a comprehensive training program and testing. 


A code of ethics should be the same throughout the company, with all departments and individuals being held to identical standards. Avoid multiple codes within the same company and insist that leadership refrain from even the slightest breach. 


When defining your code of ethics, make sure to include the consequences for violation and give employees the power to report unethical behavior in a safe and anonymous way. There should be no fear of negative consequences for speaking up. 


Invite staff members to share in the ethics vision by rewarding their commitment. Encourage open dialogue and give positive feedback for compliance and other actions that foster trust and credibility.