Date posted: 24/04/2017 2 min read

Cut through complexity with a code of conduct

How well is your business communicating its purpose, core values and principles inside an ethical framework?

In brief

  • A code of conduct details how employees are expected to behave in the workplace.
  • Being transparent about your firm’s ethics can promote good workplace culture.
  • Episode four of the Acuity podcast investigates ethics in business.

In a world where information is so readily available, being transparent about your organisation’s code of conduct is clever and should, in practise, inform every aspect of your business.  

Putting in place a code of conduct can help promote your company as being ethically sound. Talented, skilled graduates looking to make decisions about their careers will turn to companies that align with their core values.  

Corporate social responsibility, trust and integrity are virtues that often foster good business relationships, meaning that acting ethically can actually add to the bottom line.  

PwC Australia promotes a clear message regarding the company’s code of conduct. It is informed by the organisation’s values and key purpose, which is to build trust in society and solve important problems. The message is succinct and digestible.  

Defining the ethical framework

But who sets the framework for defining ethical behaviour? Do employees simply have to follow the natural laws set by society? Or do employers need to define what it means to act ethically in the context of the business? PwC thinks so.  

PwC’s code of conduct document is 29 pages long and details how the company wants its employees to act. For example, when something doesn’t seem right, an employee is asked to respond by “speaking up” because “speaking up” reinforces the company’s integrity and courage to do the right thing.  

PwC’s policies, values and standards exist within a larger framework of professional standards and laws, but together inform the company’s purpose and the values that drive their business. Values such as trust and integrity, for example, are demonstrated by employees not engaging in bribery or corruption.   

A code of conduct should provide the framework within which your business defines its purpose, values and principles. Your code of conduct should cut through complexity and make it simple for employees to practice business ethically and in a way that promotes purpose and shared values.  

Acuity podcast addresses business ethics

To learn more about ethics in business, listen to episode four of the Acuity podcast, titled Who knew? – ethics and business equals profit. In this episode, hosts Mike Lynch and Jennifer Black chat to John Neil from The Ethics Centre in Sydney.  

Speaking in episode four (see above) of the Acuity podcast, Neil says that events post-GFC, and the rise of the internet, have forced a greater sense of responsibility onto business and increased calls for transparency.  

To hear more from Neil on why acting ethically is good for business, listen to episode four of the Acuity podcast now.   

How to find our podcast

The Acuity podcast tackles the latest issues in economics, business and finance and is available to stream and download for free at

Bookmark the Acuity Soundcloud page to keep up to date with new episodes as they are published. Or, you can subscribe to the Acuity podcast in your preferred format (including iTunes) to receive new episodes directly via your chosen channel.