More Elements of an Effective Ethics Programme

In addition to the core elements of an ethics programme - a code of ethics, training and communications - organisations should consider the context for the programme.

Every aspect of corporate culture needs to be harnessed and every corporate policy needs to be in line with ethical commitments.

Below are just a few suggestions for extending the read of an ethics programme. Contact us for advice on any aspect of making your ethics programme effective.

It is good practice to establish a board level committee with oversight for establishing, reinforcing and monitoring the ethics policy and identifying ethical risks and opportunities. See Culture by Committee: the pros and cons.


Critical to reinforcing values and setting the tone will be leadership style. See Setting the Tone.

Speak Up mechanisms
Employees should know how to seek advice or raise concerns about potential breach of the code of ethics and a non-retaliation policy should be in place. It is important to monitor the effectiveness of these mechanisms. See IBE Good Practice Guide: Speak Up.

Ethics ambassadors

Many companies use a network of full or part time ethics ambassadors to promote high ethical standards throughout their operations as well as to support the ethics function through the production of materials, feeding back on issues etc. See IBE Good Practice Guide: Ethics Ambassadors.

Decision-making tools

Companies can support employees to take account of the ethical considerations of the every day decisions they are taking. Many use decision trees in addition to integrating ethics into the decision making frameworks used by managers. See IBE Good Practice Guide: Ethics in Decision-making.

Globalising the programme

A major challenge for multinational organisations is that ethics programmes can be perceived as irrelevant or inappropriate if documentation, training and other guidance has not taken account of local practices and business norms. This can be a barrier to achieving consistent ethical values and standards globally. Companies need to ensure that the ethics programme is relevant and effective in all the cultural contexts that they operate. See Globalising Your Businesss Ethics Programme, IBE Good Practice Guide.

Employment contracts

Consider making adherence to the code obligatory by including reference to it in contracts of employment and linking it with disciplinary procedures.


How employees have achieved their objectives, i.e. behaviour based criteria, can be included in staff appraisals and development reviews and bonus evaluations. See IBE Good Practice Guide: Performance Management for an Ethical Culture.

How to ...

Ethical values & codes

The core element of an ethics programme will be a Code of Ethics.

Nine steps to preparing a code

The process for drawing up a code of ethics is critical in maximising its effectiveness.

Communicating ethical values

A communications strategy for the ethics programme aims to raise awareness of the organisation’s values.


Ethics training raises awareness around the code, what is acceptable business practice and where support can be found.

More elements of an effective ethics programme

Additional tools and mechanisms to keep the code alive and support staff to apply ethical values to the work they do.

Monitoring & accountability

The board needs to establish a programme of assurance to understand whether the organisation is living up to its ethical values.

My Basket

There are no items in your basket


Useful resources

by Joan E. Dubinsky and Alan Richter.
A tool for helping organisations assess their ethics commitments. 

Support Us & Get Involved

Support the IBE
Contact the Institute of Business Ethics