Codes of conduct - A barrier or breakthrough for corporate behaviour?

How is your organisation deploying its code of conduct and how is it being used to enhance organisational behaviours and actions?



Effective codes are critical for the culture of good business and this paper gives you seven practical steps which all companies should consider when developing and implementing an effective code. It’s based on the findings from our review of a sample of publicly available codes for UK-based FTSE 350 companies supplemented by a series of debates held by the PwC Fraud Academy.

We found that, despite the crucial importance of stakeholder engagement and empowerment, a language of command and control was still dominant, with ‘law’ or legal’ being the most common typical word for almost half of the sample.

This contradicts our belief that a code should serve as a carrot to motivate and promote rather than a stick to command and control. If deployed effectively, a code breathes life into how and why the organisation exists, and defines its purpose in society.

Our study also found that those companies that have experienced significant or severe external scrutiny or regulatory sanction during the past five years have all since updated their code. Some of the most recently revised codes include emerging issues such as; a proactive approach to human rights, data privacy, due diligence and the use of social media.

Alignment of both personal and corporate values is critical to making a code meaningful and effective. For a code to work, individuals need to believe in its purpose which will create authenticity and consistent delivery.