What Are the Benefits of a Formal Code of Conduct for Managers?

Putting expectations into a code helps managers make better ethical decisions.
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Although long lists of rules and regulations may not be everyone's idea of excitement, formal codes of conduct for managers do help define expectations for behavior in the business world, creating greater professionalism and consistency. This creates a more enjoyable workplace, making Monday mornings that much easier. According to the American Society for Public Administration, examples of code of conduct expectations may include decision-making that doesn't necessarily take place behind closed doors, promoting affirmative action and demonstrating personal integrity. Stating these standards explicitly can create a more positive workplace environment, helping members of the public, clients, co-workers and investors to get along.


One benefit of a formal code of conduct for managers makes processes and expectations standard, and clear to everyone. When ethical solutions or conduct expectations aren’t immediately obvious, a formal code of conduct establishes guidelines for making decisions. These rules help managers articulate the company’s expectations to new hires and the public. This way, everyone is on the same page and the workplace culture retains some consistency. With rules firmly in place, managers are held accountable for their decisions and behaviors. If managers aren't playing by the rules, the company has justification for sending them packing.


Businesses and the managers who run them are supposed to demonstrate flexibility, fluidity and dynamism. The October 2011 Business Ethics.net article, “Small Business Ethics" states that when small problems crop up, managers should address them efficiently and appropriately so that business flow isn't interrupted. Without a formal code of conduct in place, managers may resolve problems with solutions that are efficient and effective but reflect badly on the company. Shortcuts or shady moves may surface. An established code helps set guidelines for managers when they brainstorm for solutions. Dynamism is encouraged, but solution-oriented creativity still has to reflect what the company has defined as good business.

Public Trust

In the October 2009 Bloomberg Businessweek article, “Why Management Needs a Code of Conduct,” reporter Angel Cabrera states that public trust in business has dropped. Media coverage of ethical business blowouts makes some people feel like businesses are reckless or irresponsible. Establishing a formal code of conduct for managers can help demonstrate their commitment to appropriate business practices. Some businesses commit to the bare minimum in terms of ethical decisions, meeting the letter of the law without contributing their own additional standards for conduct. Establishing a code that expands on skeleton rules shows good faith.


Establishing a formal code of conduct for managers contributes to the overall professionalism of business culture, according to the October 2008 Harvard Business Review article, “It’s Time to Make Management a True Profession.” Other fields, including medicine and law, have industry-wide established codes of conduct. Although this isn't industry-wide in business, more companies are opting to create formal codes of conduct. Overall, this gives business administration greater ethical and professional credibility.

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