Taking on a Code of Conduct project this year? You're not alone.
We've noticed a big uptick in Code rewrites and redesigns — and for good reason. Many companies are updating their Codes to reflect new workplace realities, to take advantage of new technology and formats, or even just to re-engage their audience.
Rethink Compliance was built on Codes — in fact, we’ve written and designed more than 60 Codes for our clients. So we asked our LinkedIn community what burning questions they had for us, and then Suzan McGinnis sat down with Meghan Daniels, our resident Codes expert, to answer questions and chat about the trends Meghan's seeing across Code projects.
Check out their Q&A below!
Top Code of Conduct Trends in 2021
1. Expand Coverage in Social Media and Data Privacy
Two topics that have come up frequently in recent Code projects are social media and data privacy. As Meghan points out, “This digital culture and climate we have now has necessitated more coverage in those areas.”
Work arrangements have changed for many companies in the past year, and more employees working from home means new risks for your data. For example, one client saw an increase in employees accessing customer information at home and needed to re-educate their audience around the appropriate use of data. By expanding their coverage of these topics in the Code, they were able to address new risks and keep the Code fresh and relevant for employees in new working arrangements.
2. Use More Inclusive Language
When it comes to building a more inclusive work environment, your Code is a great place to set the tone. One trend we’re seeing is a move toward more inclusive language in Codes, including changing binary "he/she" pronouns to more inclusive “they” pronouns.
3. Update “Good Faith” Language to Address New Whistleblower Protections in Australia
The Australian whistleblowing legislation means whistleblowers in Australia are no longer required to prove they’re making a report in “good faith.” If you include “good faith” language in your Code of conduct, it may be time to update that for a “reasonable standards” approach, especially if you have employees or business partners in Australia.
4. Swap Out Scenarios to Reflect Our Current Reality
It’s worth taking a look at the scenarios in your Code to make sure they still resonate. For example, when it comes to gifts and entertainment, Meghan and her team found that many pre-COVID scenarios, such as taking a client out to eat, felt out of touch with employees’ current reality. Updating your scenarios can make a big difference when it comes to making sure your Code feels relevant to your audience.
How Often Should You Update Your Code?
As Meghan says, “We always want a Code to feel like our current reality.” She recommends taking a look at it every year. Ask yourself:
- Are we still on brand?
- Are we still talking about the things that reflect our culture overall so the Code resonates with our audience?
- Have there been any legal or substantive requirements or changes we need to address?
- Is there anything that doesn’t work any more based on what’s transpired in the last year?
Meghan also acknowledges that more substantial Code rewrites and redesigns are a big undertaking, so she recommends planning on those every two to three years.
"We always want a Code to feel like our current reality."
More substantial overhauls go beyond making sure the Code is up to date to finding ways to re-engage your audience. As Meghan says, “They’ve seen the Code for a couple years, so what new formats or designs can we use to make it fresh?”
Ready to update your Code of Conduct? We can help.