We believe that ethics and morality in business are critically important and do our very best to ensure, wherever we can, that Christopher Ward operates to the highest standards in these areas.
For instance, we only use conflict-free diamonds in our diamond watches that are traceable via the Kimberley Process and our alligator straps are from managed farms that are signed up to the United Nations CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered species of wild flora and fauna) certification scheme. It helps that we are a small company and that we know all our suppliers personally and visit them regularly, however, as a young company we also recognise there is still much to be done and that a process of continual improvement is vital if we are to succeed ethically, morally and ecologically.
We are committed to developing an ethics programme using the guidance of The Institute Of Business Ethics (see below) that will help us live and work by standards that we and our customers expect.
THE INSTITUTE FOR BUSINESS ETHICS
EIGHT STEPS for a company wishing to develop its own corporate ethics programme:
1. Find a Champion
Unless a senior person - hopefully the CEO - is prepared to drive the introduction of a business ethics policy, the chances of it being a useful tool are not high.
2. Get endorsement from the Chairman and the Board
Corporate values and ethics are matters of governance. The board must be enthusiastic not only about having such a policy but also about receiving regular reports on its operation.
3. Find out what bothers people
Merely endorsing a standard code or copying that of another will not suffice. It is important to find out on what topics employees require guidance.
4. Pick a well-tested model
Use a framework which addresses issues as they affect different constituents or shareholders of the company. The usual ones are: shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and local/national community. Some might even include competitors.
5. Produce a company code of conduct
This should be distributed in booklet form or via a company intranet. Existing policies, for example on giving and receiving gifts or the private use of company software, can be incorporated. Guidance on how the code works should also be included.
6. Try it out first
The code needs piloting - perhaps with a sample of employees drawn from all levels and different locations. An external party such as the Institute of Business Ethics will comment on drafts.
7. Issue the code and make it known
Publish and send the code to all employees, suppliers and others. State publicly that the company has a code and implementation programme that covers the whole company. Put it on your Web Site and send it to joint-venture and other partners.
8. Make it work
Practical examples of the code in action should be introduced into all company internal (and external) training programmes as well as induction courses. Managers should sign off on the code regularly and a review mechanism should be established. A code 'master' needs to be appointed.
Having a code of ethics with an implementation programme is the minimum requirement for reputation management. It is a kind of prevention medicine: without such a programme a corporation is vulnerable simply because it has neglected to take business ethics seriously.
The IBE publication 'Developing a Code of Business Ethics' offers further guidance. You may also find our training course 'Developing & Implementing a Code of Business Ethics' helpful.
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