Compliance Insight, Inc.
Code of Ethics
- Be honest
- Don’t deceive, cheat, or exploit a client for time
- Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do
- Have the courage to do the right thing
- Build a good reputation
- Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and company
- Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule
- Be tolerant and accepting of differences
- Use good manners, not bad language
- Be considerate of the feelings of others
- Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone
- Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements
- Do what you are supposed to do
- Plan ahead
- Persevere: keep on trying!
- Always do your best
- Use self-control
- Be self-disciplined
- Think before you act — consider the consequences •
Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others
- Play by the rules
- Be open-minded; listen to others
- Don’t take advantage of others
- Don’t blame others carelessly
- Treat all people fairly
- Be kind
- Be compassionate and show you care
- Express gratitude
- Forgive others
- Help people in need
- Do your share to make your company and community better
- Get involved
- Stay informed
- Be a good steward
- Obey laws and rules
- Respect authority
When others trust us, they give us greater leeway because they feel we don’t need monitoring to assure that we’ll meet our obligations. They believe in us and hold us in higher esteem. That’s satisfying. At the same time, we must constantly live up to the expectations of others and refrain from even small lies or self-serving behavior that can quickly destroy our relationships.
Simply refraining from deception is not enough. Trustworthiness is the most complicated of the six core ethical values and concerns a variety of qualities like honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty.
There is no more fundamental ethical value than honesty. We associate honesty with people of honor, and we admire and rely on those who are honest. But honesty is a broader concept than many may realize. It involves both communications and conduct.
Honesty in communications is expressing the truth as best we know it and not conveying it in a way likely to mislead or deceive. There are three dimensions:
1. Truthfulness. Truthfulness is presenting the facts to the best of our knowledge. Intent is the crucial distinction between truthfulness and truth itself. Being wrong is not the same thing as lying, although honest mistakes can still damage trust insofar as they may show sloppy judgment.
2. Sincerity. Sincerity is genuineness, being without trickery or duplicity. It precludes all acts, including half-truths, out-of-context statements, and even silence, that are intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading.
3. Candor. In relationships involving legitimate expectations of trust, honesty may also require candor, forthrightness and frankness, imposing the obligation to volunteer information that another person needs to know.
Honesty in conduct is playing by the rules, without stealing, cheating, fraud, subterfuge and other trickery. Cheating is a particularly foul form of dishonesty because one not only seeks to deceive but to take advantage of those who are not cheating. It’s a two-fer: a violation of both trust and fairness.
Not all lies are unethical, even though all lies are dishonest. That’s right; honesty is not an inviolate principle. Occasionally, dishonesty is ethically justifiable, as when the police lie in undercover operations or when one lies to criminals or terrorists to save lives. But don’t kid yourself: occasions for ethically sanctioned lying are rare and require serving a very high purpose indeed, such as saving a life — not hitting a management-pleasing sales target or winning a game or avoiding a confrontation.
Finally, lying regarding your time worked with a client will not be tolerated. Working one hour and billing for more is unethical. Knowing that the client was quoted that a particular task might take 40 hours and then billing for 40 hours (although the actual work was less) is unethical. If these actions are confirmed, serious consequences will be forthcoming up to, and including, termination.
The word integrity comes from the same Latin root as “integer,” or whole number. Like a whole number, a person of integrity is undivided and complete. This means that the ethical person acts according to their beliefs, not according to expediency. They are also consistent. There is no difference in the way they make decisions from situation to situation; their principles don’t vary at work or at home, in public or alone.
Because one must know who they are and what they value, the person of integrity takes time for self-reflection, so that the events, crises and seeming necessities of the day do not determine the course of their moral life. They stay in control. They may be courteous, even charming, but the person is never duplicitous. One never demeans themselves with flattering behavior toward those that you think might do you some good. You are trusted because others know who you are: what you see is what you get.
People without integrity are called “hypocrites” or “two-faced.”
When we make promises or other commitments that create a legitimate basis for another person to rely upon us, we undertake special moral duties. We accept the responsibility of making all reasonable efforts to fulfill our commitments. Because promise-keeping is such an important aspect of trustworthiness, it is important to:
Avoid bad-faith excuses. Interpret your promises fairly and honestly. Don’t try to rationalize noncompliance.
Avoid unwise commitments. Before making a promise consider carefully whether you are willing and likely to keep it. Think about unknown or future events that could make it difficult, undesirable or impossible. Sometimes, all we can promise is to do our best.
Avoid unclear commitments. Be sure that, when you make a promise, the other person understands what you are committing to do.
Some relationships — husband-wife, employer-employee, citizen-country — create an expectation of allegiance, fidelity and devotion. Loyalty is a responsibility to promote the interests of certain people, organizations or affiliations. This duty goes beyond the normal obligation we all share to care for others.
Limitations to loyalty. Loyalty is a tricky thing. Friends, clients, co-workers and others may demand that we rank their interests above ethical considerations. But no one has the right to ask another to sacrifice ethical principles in the name of a special relationship. Indeed, one forfeits a claim of loyalty when he or she asks so high a price for maintaining the relationship.
Prioritizing loyalties. So many individuals and groups make loyalty claims on us that we must rank our loyalty obligations in some rational fashion. For example, it’s perfectly reasonable, and ethical, to look out for the interests of our children, parents and spouses even if we have to subordinate our obligations to clients, employers or co-workers in doing so. Just be open and let others know of your priorities.
Safeguarding confidential information. Loyalty requires us to keep some information confidential. When keeping a secret breaks the law or threatens others, however, we may have a responsibility to “blow the whistle.”
Avoiding conflicting interests. Employees have a duty to make all professional decisions on merit, unimpeded by conflicting personal interests.
People are not things, and everyone has a right to be treated with dignity. We certainly have no ethical duty to hold all people in high esteem, but we should treat everyone with respect, regardless of who they are and what they have done. We have a responsibility to be the best we can be in all situations, even when dealing with unpleasant people.
The Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — nicely illustrates the Pillar of Respect. Respect prohibits violence, humiliation, manipulation and exploitation. It reflects notions such as civility, courtesy, decency, dignity, autonomy, tolerance and acceptance.
Civility, Courtesy and Decency
A respectful person is an attentive listener; although their patience with the boorish need not be endless (respect works both ways). Nevertheless, the respectful person treats others with consideration, and doesn’t resort to intimidation, coercion or violence except in extraordinary and limited situations to defend others, teach discipline, maintain order or achieve justice. Punishment is used in moderation and only to advance important goals and purposes.
Dignity and Autonomy
People need to make informed decisions about their own lives, their jobs, their work or even their companies. Don’t withhold the information they need to make the proper decision. Allow all individuals to have a say in the decisions that affect them.
Tolerance and Acceptance
Accept individual differences and beliefs without prejudice. Judge others only on their character, abilities and conduct.
Life is full of choices. Being “responsible” means that you are in charge of your choices and, thus, your life. It means being accountable for what we do and who we are. It also means recognizing that our actions matter and we are morally on the hook for the consequences. Our capacity to reason and our freedom to choose make us morally autonomous and, therefore, answerable for whether we honor or degrade the ethical principles that gives life meaning and purpose.
Ethical people show responsibility by being accountable, pursuing excellence and exercising self-restraint. They exhibit the ability to respond to expectations.
An “accountable” person is not a victim and doesn’t shift blame or claim credit for the work of others. They consider the likely consequences of their behavior and associations. They recognize the complicity you know something is wrong but have done nothing to stop/fix/highlight it. They lead by example. They “own it”!
Pursuit of Excellence
The pursuit of excellence has an ethical dimension when others rely upon our knowledge, ability or willingness to perform tasks quickly and effectively.
Diligence. It is hardly unethical to make mistakes or to be less than “excellent,” but there is a moral obligation to do one’s best, to be diligent, reliable, careful, prepared and informed.
Perseverance. Responsible people finish what they start, overcoming rather than surrendering to obstacles. They avoid excuses such as, “That’s just the way I am,” or “It’s not my job,” or “It was per procedure.”
Continuous Improvement. Responsible people always look for ways to do their work better and convey that concept on to the client.
Responsible people exercise self-control and self-governance. They do not “milk the client” but, instead, work for the sake of longer-term vision and better judgment. They delay gratification, if necessary, and never feel it’s necessary to “win at any cost.” They realize they are as they choose to be, every day.
What is fairness? Most would agree it involves
- Issues of equality, impartiality, proportionality, openness and due process
- Handling similar matters consistently
- Impose action that is commensurate with the issue and situation
The basic concept seems simple, even intuitive, yet applying it in daily life can be surprisingly difficult. Disagreeing parties tend to maintain that there is only one fair position (their own, naturally). But essentially fairness implies adherence to a balanced standard of justice without relevance to one’s own feelings or inclinations.
Process is crucial in settling disputes, both to reach the best results and to minimize complaints. A fair person scrupulously employs open and impartial processes for gathering and evaluating information necessary to make decisions. Fair people do not wait for the truth to come to them; they seek out relevant information and conflicting perspectives before making important judgments.
Decisions should be made without favoritism or prejudice.
An individual or company should correct mistakes, promptly and voluntarily. It is improper to take advantage of the weakness or ignorance of others.
If you existed alone in the universe, there would be no need for ethics and your heart could be a cold, hard stone. Caring is the heart of ethics, and ethical decision-making. It is not possible to be truly ethical and yet unconcerned with the welfare of others. That is because ethics is ultimately about good relations with other people.
It is easier to love “a company” than to love people. People who consider themselves ethical and yet lack a caring attitude toward individuals tend to treat others as instruments of their will. They rarely feel an obligation to be honest, loyal, fair or respectful except insofar as it is prudent for them to do so, a disposition which itself hints at duplicity and a lack of integrity. A person, who really cares, understands both the pain and gratitude of others.
Of course, sometimes we must hurt those we truly care for, and some decisions, while quite ethical, do cause pain – bad news, poor audit, less than stellar review. But one should consciously cause no more harm than is reasonably necessary to perform one’s duties.
The highest form of caring is the honest expression of benevolence, or self-sacrifice.
Ownership includes virtues and duties that prescribe how we ought to behave as part of a group. The good consultant knows the laws and obeys them, yes, but that’s not all. They volunteer and stay informed on the issues of the day, the better to execute their duties and privileges as a member of a self-governing team. They do more than their “fair” share to make the team work, now and for future opportunities. A good colleague at Compliance Insight gives help, guidance or direction with the expectation of nothing in return.