Corporate Eye

Corporate Ethics and the Corporate Website

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In my post on Ethics, I mentioned that I would provide more posts on Corporate Ethics.

One company that understands the importance of Corporate Ethics is an energy-based holding company — Pacific Gas and Electric.

First they follow one of our guidelines for reporting ethics on corporate websites: ethics is prominently displayed in their About Us section (see image, below)

In PC&E’s online Code Of Conduct, the company displays their Core Values, and the first is —

We act with integrity and communicate honestly and openly:

  • Act ethically and with integrity
  • Deal with people and issues openly, directly and respectfully
  • Take actions that are consistent with words
  • Do the right thing even if unpopular or risky

Placing Ethics at the top of Core Values is a subtle but telling indicator that PG&E is serious about Ethics. There is also a note from the CEO to employees that reinforces ethical behavior.

Yet another item that distinguishes  PG&E from other companies is this checklist offered to employees —

Compliance and Ethics Decision-Making Checklist

When faced with a business decision for which there’s no set policy or clear course of action, use the Core Values … and your own good judgment to determine the best approach. In addition, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will I feel comfortable with my decision?
  • Could I explain it to my parents or children?
  • How would it look in a newspaper?
  • Have I made a decision that is fair and just?
  • Have I verified the significant facts?
  • If I’m not sure, have I asked?
  • Have I determined if it’s legal and within policy?

Brilliant: this straight forward, easily understood checklist captures the essence of ethical decision-making.

PGE Ethics

In addition to Core Values and the Checklist, the company offers a comprehensive menu of references to guide ethical practices —

Finally, the company recognizes that the Board of Directors face more complex decisions so it offers a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics for Directors.

Kudos to PG&G for going well beyond a Code of Ethics and guiding its decision making via a well thought out Ethics Compliance Program – and for demonstrating this via the website.

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.
 
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