A code of ethics is a telling collection of values that clarifies an organization’s mission and vision and establishes to its employees as well as the world what it believes in and aims to live by (Green Plus, 2015). For example, honesty, integrity, refraining from unlawful behavior and being courteous are critical for every police officer since that defines the character of the entire department. It is a framework of guidelines that expresses what really matters for the organization in not just the “what” of doing things. However, the way they are done provides an insight to its employees while making decisions in difficult situations (Sandford et al, 2015). While a code of ethics is an important document in any organization, I believe it is even more critical for a Criminal Justice agency to have a clearly defined policy that reflects its core philosophy establishing the priorities and values that everyone in the agency must necessarily know, understand and wholeheartedly adopt, embrace and practice.
I plan to develop and carry out a code of ethics that would look forward to creating a realistic and active statement. Eventually, it would crystallize the agency’s culture in specifying values that mark ethical lines that should never be crossed (Jennings, 2006). It progresses further by ensuring that everyone in the organization is aware of and participate in spirit (Spiro 2010). To this end, my plan includes the following approach.
Management Commitment and Consensus
While serving as Head of the Agency, I am empowered to set up a code of conduct; it would be my effort to begin by proposing to the relevant group of senior department heads my intent of doing so, making sure they would buy into the strategy, design and execution. This will allow me to garner support in creating a wholesome framework. The next set of steps include getting budgets for assigning time and resources for designing, introducing, training, implementing, monitoring and reviewing (Jaspal, 2010).
I would look forward to assigning a Chief Ethical or Compliance Officer, who would lead the entire policy development and execution exercise. I would find a tenured, reliable and committed official from within the Agency, with demonstrated integrity, leadership and skills that will work with a larger task force of a cross representational focus group across all departments ensuring work situations and areas of conflict that arise in every aspect in the line of duty would be covered. The task force would dissect and grapple with defining a clear scope for the document and outline not just the tenets but also a conjoined strategy of implementing, ensuring adherence, monitoring and evaluating besides periodic reviews (Spiro, 2010).
Resources and References
A code of conduct for any organization would draw on fundamental principles of integrity and acceptable standards of behavior. It is crucial that all employees within the agency be checked with to acquire a pool of information and data that will help customize the code with specific expectations on work standards; the examples of unethical choices and behavior. A policy drafted individually in the confines of a board room with a few leaders penning their ideas of the ideal way to behave would fall flat and fail outright making it essential to involve a range of employees across all levels. The multidisciplinary focus group tasked to brainstorm and compiles a comprehensive array of plausible scenarios that require addressing.
Drafting and Documentation
The Code of ethics is written clearly and concisely leaving no employee any room for doubt on the acceptable course of action to take in any situation. The sections of the Code would include an introductory note of commitment from the top leadership towards the embodied principles. It would also contain values in the statement, an ethical framework of decision-making in difficult work situations, resources for obtaining guidance, good faith reporting, listing of supplementary compliance and ethics supporting documents. Additional records can be maintained for noting policies, enforcement measures, consequences of non-compliance, and the reporting structure / process for observed incidences.
Once drafted, reviewed and approved by the core committee and senior leadership, I would look forward to making sure that every employee is aware with access to the code; they understand the code and his or her responsibility to abide by it. The Code of Ethics would be proudly displayed as framed and mounted posters in ideal locations for all employees to have a visual reinforcement of the Agency standards. The Agency website would have it prominently positioned as a corollary to the vision and mission statement as would the employee intranet emphasizing its everyday significance.
The HR department would work along with the Compliance team under the Ethics Officer to make sure all new entrants are trained on the agency’s code of Ethical Practices and start to follow it industriously. This training would include specific scenarios that could pose a dilemma in decision-making on the right thing to do that people within the agency could meet; leaving no scope of ambiguity in the way to go. Training would cover the understanding of the consequences of violation and the escalation chain if any instances are reported. Employees would also be provided contact names, e-mail addresses to report any breaches along with the confidentiality and anonymity. The training outcome would not be just foster employees' understanding of the content of the code, however; it is in their exhibition of increased levels of confidence as they face decision-making situations that involve ethical challenges (Ethics & Compliance Initiative, 2003).
Adoption and Monitoring
All employees within the agency reassured with the need to embrace and adopt the code of ethics starting from the very top right through the ranks to the grassroots. The leadership at the Agency would be living examples for the larger workforce to emulate in terms of professionalism and exhibiting the highest standards of excellence and integrity. The multidisciplinary task force will continue to play a significant role in supplementing the Compliance team’s efforts in ensuring every Agency member imbibes the Code in his or her working approach. Clear-cut penalties would be spelt out for deviance from compliance, and an impartial and investigation into every reported incident would lead to pre dictated consequences as justified in a case to a case basis. I would make sure we reward and recognize conformance to compliance and the code of ethics by instituting an “Employee Icon of the Year” who would receive the honor of a certificate or plaque during the Agency Award celebrations. Employee appraisal reviews would consider completion of the compliance assessments making every person in the Agency aware of how committed we are towards it. Organizational surveys are conducted periodically to check employee understanding and implementation of the Code (Jaspal, 2010).
Reviews and Updates
Every related code is dynamic, progressive and contemporary, reflecting the evolving context and culture of the Agency. Through time, new issues, economic, political and legal policy changes impacting the way we work emerge; consistently integrated with the Code to guarantee that the policy remains significant. The multidisciplinary task force steps in annually to track any consequential measures or concerns to address within the Code while HR and Training would ensure all employees take the annual compliance assessment (Ethics & Compliance Initiative, 2003). I believe such a structured and focused plan on warranting the evolution of a stout yet uniquely customized Code of Ethics to pervade the Agency culture.
Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) (2003). What to do after your Code of Conduct is written? Retrieved from http://www.ethics.org/resource/what-do-after-your-code-conduct-written
GreenPlus (2015). Code of Ethics / Conduct. Retrieved from http://gogreenplus.org/nuts-and-bolts-guide/people-nuts-and-bolts-guide/human-resources-employee-effectiveness/code-of-ethicsconduct/
Jaspal, Sonia (2010). Establishing a Code of Business Ethics. Retrieved from https://soniajaspal.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/establishing-a-code-of-business-ethics/
Jennings, Marianne M. (2006). The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse St. Martin's Griffin. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/guides/how-to-write-a-code-of-ethics.html.
Sandford, Nicole, Mohlenkamp, Maureen, and Darcy, Keith (2015). Insights for Writing a Code of Ethics or Conduct. Retrieved from http://deloitte.wsj.com/riskandcompliance/2015/01/15/insights-for-writing-a-code-of-ethicsconduct/
Spiro, Josh (2010). How to Write a Code of Ethics for Business. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/guides/how-to-write-a-code-of-ethics.html.