Our professional code of ethics policy aims to give guidelines on our business ethics and stance on various controversial matters.
This policy applies to everyone we have business relations with, including individual people such as interns and volunteers, and also business entities, such as vendors, enterprise customers or venture capital companies. Our code of professional ethics often refers to legally or morally charged issues.
What is meant by code of professional ethics?
First, let us define professional ethics: they are a set of principles that guide the behavior of people in a business
context. They are essential to maintaining the legality of business and a healthy workplace.
So what is a code of ethics? Our code of ethics definition refers to the standards that apply to a specific setting – in this case, our own organization.
What is the purpose of a professional code of ethics?
Having our business ethics in writing does not mean that we do not trust people. We strive to engage with ethical people who have their own personal standards, so we expect that a written code will not be necessary most of the time. But, it can still be helpful. Life is full of grey areas where right and wrong are not so apparent. Some professional ethics also correspond to laws to do work properly, so we mention such laws in our code of ethics.
Additionally, we cannot predict how people are going to behave. When a person behaves, or intents to behave, in a way that is against our professional ethics, or applicable laws, we have clear guidelines on what disciplinary actions we will consider.
The components of our code of professional ethics:
We base our business code of ethics on common principles of ethics. Details of each of these follow:
● Respect for Others. Treat people as you want to be treated
● Integrity and Honesty. Tell the truth and avoid any wrongdoing to the best of your ability
● Justice. Make sure people are objective and fair and do not disadvantage others
● Lawfulness. Know and follow the law – always
● Competence and Accountability. Work hard and be
responsible for work being done
● Teamwork. Collaborate and ask for help
Respect for Others
It is mandatory to respect everyone who interacts. Be kind, polite and understanding. Respect others’ personal space, opinions and privacy. Any kind of violence is strictly prohibited and will result in immediate consequences. Also, people are not allowed to harass or victimize others.
What constitutes harassment or victimization? As a general rule, try to put yourself in someone else’s place. How would you feel if someone behaved a specific way to you? If the answer is “I would not like it much” or “I would never let them behave like that to me”, then we do not tolerate this behavior, no matter who the person it comes from.
If someone, be it customer, colleague or stakeholder, is offensive, demeaning or threatening toward you or someone you know, report them immediately. Please report rudeness and dismissiveness if they become excessive or frequent.
Integrity and Honesty
First, always keep in mind our organization’s mission. We all work together to achieve specific outcomes. All behavior should contribute to our goals, whether financial or organizational.
Be honest and transparent when acting in ways that impact other people (e.g. making strategic decisions). We do not tolerate malicious, deceitful or petty conduct. Lies and cheating are huge red flags and may face discipline depending on any damages done.
Stealing from the company or other people is illegal and violators will face repercussions depending on the severity of their actions. For example, if someone steals money or data (e.g. engaging in fraud or embezzlement), they will face legal consequences. The process will be at the company’s discretion on a case-by-case basis.
Conflict of interest
Conflict of interest may occur whenever someone’s interest in a particular subject leads them to actions, activities or relationships that undermine our company. This includes situations like using a position’s authority for personal gain or exploiting company resources to support a personal money-making business. Even when someone seemingly acts to the company’s advantage, they may actually disadvantage it. For example, if someone uses dubious methods to get competitor intel to raise their sales record, their action will have a positive impact on the company’s revenue, but it will put the company at a legal risk and promote unhealthy business practices.
If it turns out someone has created a conflict of interest for themselves, they will be punished. If the conflict of interest was involuntary (e.g. buying stocks from a company without knowing they are a competitor), the company will take actions to rectify the situation.
Do not act in a way that exploits others, their hard work or their mistakes. Give everyone equal opportunity and speak up when someone else does not.
Be objective when making decisions that can impact other people, including when deciding to create a contract or terminate a contract. Be sure that we can justify any decision with written records or examples. Seek and use the most objective methods in any case; for example, when interviewing candidates, ask the same interview questions to all of them and avoid judging non-job-related criteria, like dress, appearance, etc.
Do not discriminate against people with protected characteristics, as this is forbidden by laws under the purview of the EEOC. If there are unconscious bias’ that influence decisions (taking Harvard’s Implicit Association Test could help determine this), ask the company for assistance.
When exercising authority, be fair. Do not show favoritism toward specific employees and be transparent when deciding to praise or reward a colleague.
If someone needs to be disciplined, be sure to have prepared a case that you can present to the company. Individual retaliation against people or applicants or subcontractors is forbidden by law.
Be just toward customers, too. If our company was in the wrong in a specific instance, do not try to cover it up or accuse the other side. Discuss the situation with the company to find solutions that can benefit both sides.
Everyone is obliged to follow all laws which apply to our organization. There might be various laws to observe. For example, accountants and medical professionals have their own legal restrictions and they must be fully aware of them.
When preparing contracts, clauses, disclaimers or online copy that may be governed by law, please ask verification from our legal counsel before finalizing anything.
Following laws regarding fraud, bribery, corruption and any kind of assault is a given. Everyone is obliged to follow laws on child labor and avoid doing business with unlawful organizations.
If not sure what the law is in a specific instance, ask our legal counsel.
Competence and accountability
We all need to put a healthy amount of effort in our work. Not just because we are all responsible for the organization’s success, but also because slacking off affects our colleagues. Incomplete or slow working might hinder other people’s work or cause them to shoulder the burden themselves. This comes in direct conflict with our respect and integrity principles.
We also expect everyone to take up opportunities for learning and development, either on-the-job or via educational material or training.
Also, take responsibility for actions. We all make mistakes or need to make tough decisions and it is important we own up to them. Failing to be accountable on a regular basis or in important situations (e.g. a crucial mistake in our financial records) will result in repercussions. Take responsibility and come up with ways to fix mistakes where possible.Teamwork
Working well with others is a virtue, rather than an obligation. Colleagues will certainly be allowed to work autonomously and focus on their own projects and responsibilities. Everyone should also be ready to collaborate with and help others.
Be generous with expertise and knowledge. Be open to learning and evolving. If days go by without consulting or brainstorming with anyone, they are missing out on opportunities for excellence. Instead, work with others and do not hesitate to ask for help when needed.