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How to Enforce a Code of Ethics

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A code of ethics establishes parameters for professional conduct. It involves the principles and moral values of an organization or profession. The code offers standards that help guide workers when they encounter moral dilemmas. Enforcing a code of ethics is an important part of protecting the integrity of the profession and establishing fair and responsible practices. Implementing a code of ethics involves creating procedures for investigating allegations and imposing sanctions on those who violate the code.

Write policies that clearly and thoroughly explain ethics and a worker's obligations. Understanding how workers should resolve moral dilemmas is an important part of establishing the code.

Present during a meeting with employees the various examples and case studies centered on ethical issues that might be encountered and how employees should address these issues.

Discuss with workers the sanctions that will be imposed for violating the code of ethics. Depending on the violation, these sanctions can include a letter of reprimand, dismissal and possible criminal chargers or civil lawsuits.

Post the code of ethics in the workplace to serve as a constant reminder of a person's ethical obligations and the repercussions that come along with violating the rules.

Form a code of ethics committee that will meet with executive-level staff who have exemplary performance records and explain to them the group's purpose. Explain that the goal of the committee is to review and investigate allegations of ethical misbehavior. Create a rubric or set of guidelines for assessing questionable ethical behavior. Outline the series of steps that employees must take in order to address the committee with an allegation of misconduct.

Explain to employees the protocol for reporting questionable ethical behavior. Inform employees that allegations must be submitted in written form so as to properly document the incident.

Conduct a hearing before the ethics committee and rule complaints of unethical behavior. The ethics committee must decide upon disciplinary action.


Supervisors and executives should abide by all ethical guidelines so that the work climate reflects the fundamental principles of the code.

The ethics committee must constantly and consistently reinforce the code of ethics in order to maintain an established set of standards.