How To Create Your Code Of Ethics (With Examples)

By Caitlin Mazur - Jan. 14, 2021
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When you enter the workforce and begin working with a company, they will typically have something called a code of ethics that they expect all employees to follow. However, you should not only have a code of ethics from your company, but one for your personal beliefs and ethics. These guidelines can help you navigate difficult situations and make better decisions.

Entering a work environment with personal ethics allows you to effectively advance your career and handle workplace situations that may arise. By having a clear code of personal ethics memorized or written down and handy, you can ensure you stick to your values and morals in the workplace.

What Is a Code of Ethics?

A code of ethics is defined as “a guide of principles designed to help professionals conduct business honestly and with integrity.” Most organizations have what they call a business code of ethics, which ties into the company’s core values and mission statement.

A company code of ethics helps employees approach situations in an appropriate manner and is an expectation for all employees.

An individual’s code of ethics may include their personal morals, values, and background. For individuals, their personal ethics might guide both their personal and professional life. They may develop this code from their own personal values and worth ethic. Personal ethics might include things like honesty, integrity, empathy, respect, and equality.

A code of ethics is specific for each company or individual and should incorporate what the group of people or person believes to be right or wrong. Your code of ethics will hold different weight depending on the person, but the advantages of developing and maintaining one are clear.

A code of ethics is something you can refer back to when you’re looking to make a decision. It can reinforce your values, deterring you from making a wrong move or perhaps, make the right one. It can help clarify important decision-making and give people or organizations the confidence they need to move forward with something they may have otherwise not.

Your code of ethics may vary depending on your industry of employment. For example, doctors or lawyers may have a much stricter code of ethics to adhere to, regardless of the type of company they might work for or if they operate a private practice.

If you aren’t part of this type of profession, then you’ll likely be working with a code of ethics that is somewhat typical and mutually acceptable across the board. Personal ethics may vary from individual to individual, with age, profession, and background playing a significant role in what ethics are chosen.

How to Create a Personal Code of Ethics

Creating your personal code of ethics might sound like a complicated task, and that’s why we’ve outlined a few steps you can take below to begin this process. Don’t overthink your code of ethics at first glance.

Your code may evolve over time as you learn new things during your professional or personal journey in life. To create your personal code of ethics, consider the following:

  • What is your intention? It’s important to understand why you are developing a code of ethics in the first place. It could be for various reasons, such as inspiration for the kind of person you would like to be in the workplace or help to make an important decision.

    Your reasoning behind developing a code of ethics will help drive it and make it purposeful for your specific use.

  • Who are you as a person? Think about your traits and how you’d like to be perceived and represented as an individual. This could include things like integrity, kindness, loyalty, or anything else you believe you embody.

    You can consider asking close friends, your spouse, or family members about what they may think from an external perspective if you feel comfortable. Doing this exercise will help you make an achievable code of ethics that you’ll be able to stick to.

  • What relationships would you like to improve? Consider your relationships with friends, family, and colleagues, and what you might like to improve. This is a great starting point for your code of ethics, as it will surface a goal for your existing relationships.

    In your code of ethics, you can articulate how you want to maintain or improve the relationships in your life.

  • How will you accomplish your goal? It’s one thing to write down your intended goals, but how will you accomplish them? A list of statements can help guide you towards the actions necessary to complete any goal you may have set for yourself.

    You can include the traits you’ve listed above that you’d like to hold onto as you move to accomplish the goals you’ve identified for yourself.

  • How will you sustain your code? To sustain your code, you should have clear guidelines for yourself that you follow. When you interact with people daily, it can be hard to remember your code of ethics, but having clear rules will remind you how to maintain them.

Personal Code of Ethics Example

Personal ethics statements are important for a variety of reasons. You may consider creating them for things like college applications, job applications, or performance evaluations. A personal code of ethics helps you create achievable goals for yourself as you develop personally. It helps you communicate more effectively, better understand your priorities, clarify decision-making, and improve goal setting and achievement.

To write a personal ethics statement, you may want to consider a few things above, like who your audience might be, what your specific goals are, and your intention. Personal code of ethics may look something like this:

  • I will prioritize my mental health and maintain a healthy work-life balance. This statement is a great personal one to hold onto, as it puts you first and in the driver’s seat.

    This will allow you to take a step back, especially in stressful or toxic situations, and evaluate whether or not you are sacrificing your mental health or the value of a work-life balance.

  • I will treat others with respect. This one is essentially treating others as you wish to be treated. This is a good one to include as it will remind you that no matter the circumstance, you’ll do your best to treat others with respect, even if they might not deserve it.

  • I will be honest. Honesty is an important one to include in your list, as it doesn’t necessarily come easy for many individuals. It’s an important reminder that honesty is the best policy in most cases.

  • I am dedicated to continuous growth. Making an intention for yourself for continuous personal growth and improvement is a great reminder you may need to refer back to when prioritizing certain things in your life.

    It’s also a great reminder that you may need to be the bigger person or learn an important lesson via criticism or feedback during the hard times.

  • I will be accountable. Being accountable is incredibly important in all aspects of life. Nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes, but what differentiates us from one another is how we handle them. Being accountable is the stand-up thing to do and will ensure you maintain positive relationships.

  • I will be grateful. Being grateful is another one that we typically all try to uphold, but many forget about it on a daily basis.

    It’s easy to get bogged down with the hardships and stresses of life and work, but being grateful and choosing it as part of your ethical code, is a great way to remind yourself to be thankful for what you have.

  • I will honor my promises and commitments. Loyalty and trustworthiness are important in all aspects of professional and personal life. Holding yourself accountable is one thing, but showing up is another matter in itself. Honoring the commitments you make makes you a trustworthy person and a good person.

Professional Code of Ethics Example

A company code of ethics will, of course, differ widely from personal ones, but the end game is ultimately the same. These are reminders on how to be a good professional, employee, manager, and colleague. Your company code of ethics may look something like this:

  • Do the right thing. Simple, straightforward, and to the point. Doing the right thing covers a broad range of topics but is an important reminder for all employees always to make the right ethical decision.

    This might mean surfacing an uncomfortable fact or giving difficult feedback, so it’s a good one to include.

  • Be respectful. Reminding employees to be respectful of one another might seem childish, but it’s one of the most important considerations and expectations a company might have of their employees.

    Individuals may have different backgrounds, beliefs, and opinions, but remaining level-headed and civil during turbulent times or times where you might butt heads is important to an inclusive and productive work environment.

  • Be professional. Ensuring your employees stay professional is very important. This means steering clear of inappropriate behaviors, comments, or activities. This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how effective it can be as an important reminder for your employees.

  • Be inclusive. This is a significant one for all areas of any given company. Inclusivity allows for a diversity of ideas, approaches, tactics, and more. Being open-minded about hiring falls into this category as well, which means you can and should not discriminate against someone based on what they look like, their status, background, or family.

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Caitlin Mazur

Caitlin Mazur is a freelance writer at Zippia. Caitlin is passionate about helping Zippia’s readers land the jobs of their dreams by offering content that discusses job-seeking advice based on experience and extensive research. Caitlin holds a degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.

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