A code of ethics is a collection of guiding expectations, principles and best practices for an individual or business. People can create a personal code to set intentions and clarify their goals, while a company can implement a professional code so all personnel can better adhere to a company’s policy and standards. By reviewing some examples of personal and professional interpretations, you can learn which option addresses your needs and determine strategies for creating a document.
In this article, we explain what makes a good personal code of ethics, and what makes a good professional document, provide two examples of an individual’s code of ethics and list some examples of how a company might use a professional version.
What makes a good personal code of ethics?
A good personal code of ethics details an individual’s value system, moral standards and professional background in a readable format. It highlights different principles an individual can use for their personal life and professional career. People can also use a code of ethics to make important decisions and increase their overall motivation. Some examples of these guiding principles may include respecting the viewpoints of others or maintaining a person’s integrity in all situations.
Here are the elements of an exemplary personal code of ethics:
Shows relevance: Different people may emphasize certain principles that apply to specific circumstances. For example, a professional lawyer may include personal guidelines about honesty and justice in their document.
Uses personal pronouns: Using “I” statements can allow individuals to show accountability for their code of ethics, which may help them maintain their standards when handling a personal or professional dilemma.
Provides specific examples: This document may reference situations where an individual can apply a principle. For example, a doctor may describe staying accountable to their patients, colleagues, family members and peers.
Includes reasons for beliefs: It may be helpful for an individual to explain why they select certain ethical principles, as this may clarify the document’s overall purpose. For instance, a person may explain they’re dedicated to self-improvement because it’s important to learn new information every day.
What makes a good professional code of ethics?
A good professional code of ethics provides a company’s value system, moral standards and legal obligations to the federal and state government. This document often involves showing employees the ethical guidelines for their conduct and behavior in a work environment. Referring to a code of ethics can help employees make critical decisions, serve the needs of clients and solve workplace conflicts successfully. Some examples of these guidelines may refer to showing professionalism at work, respecting the legal rights of employees or maintaining confidentiality protocols.
Here are the elements of an exemplary professional code of ethics:
Prioritizes readability: As multiple people in a company may read this document, it’s important to use actionable language and concise, clear sentences to increase its overall readability.
Provides a detailed overview: Each section of a professional code of ethics may benefit from a detailed explanation of each guiding principle. For example, a paragraph about confidentiality may describe why it’s important and how an employee can better adhere to it.
Incorporate’s leadership support: It’s often helpful for a document to show validation from a company’s chief executive officer (CEO) or another leader, as this may encourage people to follow a code of ethics carefully. They may sign the document or provide a letter beforehand explaining its purpose.
Shows information in a captivating way: Consider using a format and structure that’s engaging and aesthetically appealing. Adhering to a format can also help a company create a logical flow of information, which may help people recall a professional code of ethics more efficiently.
Offers accessibility options: It’s important that all personnel in a company can read and review a code of ethics as needed. As a result, high-quality documents are available in multiple formats, including physical copies, online files and versions in different languages.
Personal code of ethics examples
Here are two examples of personal codes of ethics you can refer to:
Medical doctor example
Dr. Joshua Brodsky, M.D.
My personal code of ethics
Care: I have a duty of care to everyone I encounter in my day-to-day life, including patients, peers and family members. When possible, I plan to dedicate my time and energy to ensuring other people are safe and happy because it’s important that people stay accountable to each other.
Honesty: I maintain integrity in all situations, particularly when informing patients about their health care status. I prefer peers and colleagues to know I am a reliable person who always says exactly what I mean. It’s important to speak honestly so people can learn to trust each other.
*Excellence: I promise to render high-quality medical services to every patient I meet. I aim to use this principle in other aspects of my life, including family endeavors and hobby projects, so I can maintain high standards in every situation and better achieve my goals.*
Fairness: I strive to treat every person I encounter equally and reflect upon situations before judging others. I plan to apply the same code of ethics to all patients and colleagues. I promise to think about external factors in a person’s life so I can approach their situation with openness and a neutral perspective.
Cecelia Fine, J.D.
My personal code of ethics
Justice: I’m dedicated to finding justice for all individuals who need it because I prefer to make the world a better place. I strive to maintain this mindset in my daily life so I can effectively address any situations I encounter. To enact justice, I plan to always hold myself and others accountable for our actions.
*Confidentiality: *I aim to always maintain the privacy of my clients, colleagues and peers. It’s important to me that others trust my capacity to keep their sensitive information a secret so we can better address their situation. To practice this, I only divulge information after receiving explicit permission.**
Respect: I believe every individual deserves respect and dignity, and strive every day to preserve these attributes in their life. As a lawyer, I intimately understand the inalienable rights afforded to people and dedicate all my time and efforts to ensure that people receive them appropriately.
*Reliability: I strive to maintain optimal standards every day in my personal and professional life so other people can rely on me for assistance. At work, I ensure I’m aware of all case materials and stay updated on new laws, regulations and stipulations. At home, I maintain a daily schedule and ensure I have enough time to prioritize the needs of my loved ones.*
I hope you find this article helpful.