Ethical code

Ethical code

An ethical code is adopted by an organization in an attempt to assist those in the organization called upon to make a decision (usually most, if not all) understand the difference between 'right' and 'wrong' and to apply this understanding to their decision. The ethical code therefore generally implies documents at three levels: codes of business ethics, codes of conduct for employees and codes of professional practice.


Code of ethics (corporate or business ethics)

A code of business ethics often focuses on social issues. It may set out general principles about an organization's beliefs on matters such as mission, quality, privacy or the environment. It may delineate proper procedures to determine whether a violation of the code of ethics has occurred and, if so, what remedies should be imposed. The effectiveness of such codes of ethics depends on the extent to which management supports them with sanctions and rewards. Violations of a private organization's code of ethics usually can subject the violator to the organization's remedies (such as restraint of trade based on moral principles). The code of ethics links to and gives rise to a code of conduct for employees.

Code of conduct (employee ethics)

A code of conduct for employees sets out the procedures to be used in specific ethical situations, such as conflicts of interest or the acceptance of gifts, and delineate the procedures to determine whether a violation of the code of ethics occurred and, if so, what remedies should be imposed. The effectiveness of such codes of ethics depends on the extent to which management supports them with sanctions and rewards. Violations of a code of conduct may subject the violator to the organization's remedies which can under particular circumstances result in the termination of employment.

Code of practice (professional ethics)

A code of practice is adopted by a profession or by a governmental or non-governmental organization to regulate that profession. A code of practice may be styled as a code of professional responsibility, which will discuss difficult issues, difficult decisions that will often need to be made, and provide a clear account of what behavior is considered "ethical" or "correct" or "right" in the circumstances. In a membership context, failure to comply with a code of practice can result in expulsion from the professional organization. In its 2007 International Good Practice Guidance, Defining and Developing an Effective Code of Conduct for Organizations, the International Federation of Accountants [1] provided the following working definition: "Principles, values, standards, or rules of behavior that guide the decisions, procedures and systems of an organization in a way that (a) contributes to the welfare of its key stakeholders, and (b) respects the rights of all constituents affected by its operations."

General notes

Ethical codes are often adopted by management, not because of some over-riding corporate mission to promote a particular moral theory, but accepted as pragmatic necessities in running an organization in a complex society in which moral concepts play an important part.

They are distinct from moral codes that may apply to the culture, education, and religion of a whole society.

Of course, certain acts that constitute a violation of ethical codes may also violate a law or regulation and can be punishable at law or by government agency remedies.

Even organizations and communities that may be considered criminal may have their own ethical code of conduct, be it official or unofficial. Examples could be hackers, thieves, or even street gangs.


See also


  • Ladd, John. "The Quest for a Code of Professional Ethics: An Intellectual and Moral Confusion." In Deborah G. Johnson (ed.) Ethical Issues in Engineering. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991.
  • Flores, Albert. "The Philosophical Basis of Engineering Codes of Ethics." In Vesilind P.A. and A. Gunn (eds), Engineering Ethics and the Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998: 201-209.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ethical code — moral guidelines, professional standards of acceptable conduct …   English contemporary dictionary

  • ethical code —  Этический кодекс …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • ethical code — noun a system of principles governing morality and acceptable conduct • Syn: ↑ethic • Hypernyms: ↑system, ↑system of rules • Hyponyms: ↑double standard • Part Meronyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Code of Ethics — can refer to:* Ethical code, a code of professional responsibility, noting what behaviors are ethical . * Code of Ethics (band), a 90 s Christian New Wave/Pop band * Code of Ethics (film), a 1999 film …   Wikipedia

  • Ethical calculus — The term ethical calculus, when used generally, refers to any method of determining a course of action in a circumstance that is not explicitly evaluated in one s ethical code. A formal philosophy of ethical calculus is a recent development in… …   Wikipedia

  • Ethical decision — In the context of decision making, your ethics are your personal standards of right and wrong. They are your basis for making ethically sensitive decisions. Ethics vs. Morals The words ethics and morals are frequently used interchangeably. For… …   Wikipedia

  • Code (disambiguation) — Contents 1 Science and technology 1.1 Specific codes 2 Entertainment …   Wikipedia

  • Code of Ethics (band) — This article is about a Christian rock band. For actual codes of ethics, see ethical code. Code of Ethics Years active 1991 – 2001, 2008 – present Labels R.E.X. Music Forefront Records …   Wikipedia

  • Ethical research in social science — Ethical research becomes extremely important when dealing with human subjects. Research is the systematic process of collecting and analyzing information (data) in order to increase our understanding of the phenomenon about which we are concerned …   Wikipedia

  • Code Gray: Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing — Directed by Joan Sawyer Produced by Ben Achtenberg Joan Sawyer Cinematography Ben Achtenberg Editing by Frank Galvin …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.