Despite their best intentions, volunteers and board members of not-for-profits may face ethical dilemmas. What’s an appropriate response to inappropriate personal conduct? Can they do business with a vendor where they have a personal relationship? What information can be shared with others?
Developing a Code of Ethics can help guide those involved with a not-for-profit to make good decisions and avoid problems – including unwanted, negative attention. When an organization anticipates what might happen, it can help ensure that bad behavior doesn’t happen.
Here are some considerations for a good Code of Ethics.
Professional conduct. This includes workplace behavior, interaction with vendors, clients, and partner organizations, and other behavioral expectations that foster a positive workplace. Covered topics could include safety, harassment, inclusion, and discrimination policies and should cover both in-person and online behavior, including emails and texts.
Conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest arise when officers, employees, directors, or volunteers make decisions that interfere with their ability to do their jobs objectively or make decisions that benefit them personally. This is true for actions that might even appear to be a conflict and can range from decisions regarding contracts to office romances.
Conflicts must be disclosed and managed by removing conflicted parties from pertinent discussions and voting. Consider appointing a compliance officer to help manage potential conflicts.
Protecting organizational assets. Your organization may have trade secrets, data, patents, or proprietary processes that require protection. Your code of ethics can include rules about how to treat organizational assets, both tangible and intangible.
Confidentiality. If confidentiality is important in your work, include language about maintaining confidentiality, including data and document handling, in your code of ethics.
Codes of Ethics can be a helpful management tool, especially for employment practices like coaching and reviews. The best Code of Ethics for your organization is one based on your work, your field, and your team.
The team at Dembo Jones can help. Get in touch with us to explore how we can guide you in developing a Code of Ethics that works for you.