What Is a Code of Conduct Violation?


Conduct is another word for behavior, and in the business world, codes of conduct are developed to ensure that employee behaviors are static when it comes to ethical practices. Violation of such codes indicates that an employee’s behavior is not consistent with what the company’s expectations are, and can result in consequences.


Codes of conduct are business documents that outline appropriate behaviors that are expected of employees, stakeholders, contractors and other affiliates. They also contain information about what types of behaviors are not acceptable, along with the consequences of violating the codes.


Codes of conduct serve to guide businesses towards ethical business practices. According to the April 2006 issue of “Business Ethics Quarterly,” Linda Sama explains that the effects of globalization have increased the volume and frequency of corporate abuses, but codes of conduct are developed to decrease ethical vulnerability and keep businesses safe from scandals.


Businesses intend to keep themselves, and their employees and stakeholders, safe from unethical business practices. As such, codes of conduct are beneficial to ensure that businesses have covered all the bases by making the behavioral expectations known, both internally and externally.


Being charged with violating ethical codes of conduct can result in different types of consequences that vary in severity, depending on the type of violation. Violation consequences may range from an employee getting written up to termination. Some types of violations are simply not tolerated by businesses, such as embezzlement.


In the April 2006 issue of “Business Ethics Quarterly,” Linda Sama argues that a critical element to the success of creating and implementing effective codes of conduct has to do with the establishment of clear and strong moral principles. Such principles should line up with the vision of the company.

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  • “Business Ethics Quarterly”; Interactive Effects of External Environmental Conditions and Internal Firm Characteristics on MNES’ Choice of Strategy in the Development of a Code of Conduct; Linda Sama; April 2006.
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