Monday, February 8, 2010

Corporate Ethics Policies

Last week, we discussed corporate ethics policies. Your book outlined the features of an effective corporate ethics policy. We analyzed Google's ethics policy, located on their "investor relations" page, and we examined whether it protected members of the public even while it represented and detailed the corporate ethos. Please take a look at what our friend Wikipedia has to say about "business ethics." Scroll down to the section "corporate ethics policies":

Of the information included in the Wikipedia entry, what corresponds to your book's information and what does not? Given what the Wikipedia entry says, think about the Google policy again. What are your comments on it? In your post, reply to both of my questions here.


  1. Some of the wikipedia article about corporate ethics policies does agree with the book. "Doable" is the one that comes to mind. There were some points that wikipedia made that I don't feel the book did. "Periodic reinforcement" isn't mentioned in the book (as far as I can remember).

    The wikipedia article also makes some strange claims and doesn't have any in text citation. "Lying has become expected in fields such as trading." That's a pretty bold statement to make without a citation.

    I feel that Google's code follows many of the points that wikipedia makes. It seems to have the support of the management in both word and action, it's neutral, executable, and monitored. If I remember correctly, Google asks employees to contact someone if they have an ethical issue. The only piont I don't remember Google making was a set of consequences for not following the code of ethics.

  2. Both sources stress that leadership must set the example to encourage ethical behavior in the organization. They also state that policy should reinforce policies periodically, and that those policies should be reasonable and understandable for employees. Policy should also be clearly enforceable.

    The book fails to mention that a policy should be neutral, and the Wikipedia article does not mention codes that protect the public rather than members of the organization. Wikipedia also makes it sound like the purpose of an ethics policy is simply to limit liability.

    Google goes above and beyond the Wikipedia definition of corporate ethics policy. For example, Article I emphasizes the importance of their users. Their code of conduct enforces a neutral workplace. They provide detailed guidelines making their code not only clear and understandable, but also enforceable. Examples are their lengthy descriptions of conflicts of interest and applicable laws.

  3. The wikipedia page corresponds pretty closely to the book except that it does not talk about protecting the public. The Wiki page does say be specific and enforceable.
    The google code of conduct follows the book and wikipedia closely but does this without being too serious. They are serious about their job and getting it done in an ethical way while still keeping the image of a fun company.

  4. I'm not sure about the dog policy... Wikipedia says, "Many companies are assessing the environmental factors that can lead employees to engage in unethical conduct," maybe the dogs help promote this?

    Neutrality in the workplace is something that book does not mention (both editions).

  5. Both Wikipedia and the book agree that the code conduct must be doable and enforceable. Wikipedia stresses the fact that the public is the ultimately the group that the policy needs to protect. Google's code of conduct focuses more on servicing the public rather than protecting its own employees.

  6. The google policies covers most of the points in the Wikipedia article well. The google policies are much more broad and includes points that don't apply to most readers. In my opinion some policies should be omitted. All of the policies fulfill the criteria that they are enforceable and they make sense.