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.
In addition to Core Values and the Checklist, the company offers a comprehensive menu of references to guide ethical practices —
- Core Values
- How to Report Questionable Activities
- Overview of Standards and Key Compliance Areas
- Employee Conduct Standards
- Conflict of Interest Standards
- Key Compliance Areas
- Compliance & Ethics Decision-Making Checklist
- Waivers of Code of Conduct
- References & Resources
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.