Developing & updating codes


Codes help organizations meet what’s ahead.

Most places have certain ways of doing things and standards they wish to maintain. A code puts that in writing. It presents ways to respond as circumstances emerge. It makes expectations clear to everyone, both inside and outside the organization.

A code tells people the standards of service they can expect. Often, a code will include a means to complain if it seems like promises haven’t been met, together with an explicit process for reviewing complaints. It’s a way an organization says here’s what we intend to do, and here’s what you can do if you think we’ve fallen short. A best practice is presenting complaints that have been resolved and how the process worked.

The net effect increases trust. With it can come greater loyalty to the organization.

  • Codes of practice typically lay out specific do’s and don’ts that apply to the work of the organization. There may be codes for the whole company, for senior teams, or even participants in standing meetings. Sometimes, they’re for specialized units, for example, newsrooms within a larger media company.

  • Codes of ethics express values and aspirations. Instead of specifics of what to do, a code of ethics describes how to approach what to do.

  • Some places have one or the other, others have both. Or they may preface a code of practice with its underlying ethical principles.

Codes are dynamic documents. Expectations and standards may change, perhaps from recent events, or findings in law, or new possibilities. For example, a growing number of organizations working with artificial intelligence have recently developed codes to guide their research and new products.

We’re accustomed to using codes in day-to-day operations:

  • Developing new codes of practice or codes of ethics
  • Refreshing existing codes to reflect new practices or circumstances
  • Delivering workshops for staff about new/updated code provisions and how they can be applied
  • Briefing senior management or boards about matters arising from codes, acting as a trusted third party

DELIVERABLES: Determined by project

TIMING: Determined by project

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