P&P Policies and Procedures Consulting
P&P Policies and Procedures Consulting

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The Policies & Procedures Authority – The newsletter about the art of transforming workplace learning and performance through Policies & Procedures Communication

Tips for Presenting Ethics Practices

– Raymond E. Urgo

Importance of consistent interpretations

Because the nature of ethics information is highly abstract and related to integrity, it is based upon judgment and therefore subject to varying interpretations by employees. To increase common understanding and consistent interpretations, the use of language, choice of words, sentence formation, and presentation style are important.

Locating resources

To locate resources about ethics practices, research business ethics textbooks. Seek out your industry associations, as well as centers of ethics affiliated with university business schools.

Tips: Presenting ethics content

There are many ways of presenting business ethics information—policy statements, value statements, rules, guidelines, or codes. To clarify business ethics information, apply the following tips:

  • Write sentences in the present tense and active voice (subject is the doer, not the receiver of the action).
    Change: Employees are permitted to…
    To: ABC Company permits employees to…
  • Reserve future tense only to stress a strong promise, threat, or warning.
    Example: We will serve our clients with integrity, competence and objectivity.
  • For a set of non-sequential guidelines or rules
    - Use the imperative (command) mood. (The subject is second person, you.)
    - Use bulleted points to list each rule or guideline, and
    - Create subgroups if there are more than seven items in a list.
  • Write in the positive (what to do), rather than the negative (what not to do).
  • Include examples and non-examples of cases, situations, conditions, and scenarios as supporting information to help users and learners better understand the application of the attributes of ethical practices.
  • When developing content for employee training programs, present real situations for employees to analyze and resolve by using the organization’s documented ethics practices as a guide.

For training or assistance in effectively communicating policies and procedures for your business ethics practices and other performance needs, contact Urgo & Associates.