How to review and compare corporate conduct rules

A new free database allows users to search codes

Accessing the codes of conduct of other companies just became a lot easier.

The Ethisphere Institute, a think tank that focuses on best practices in business ethics and corporate social responsibility, released a free online searchable database of codes of conduct in November 2011. The database is designed to aid in-house counsel and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) officers in developing and improving their companies’ codes. It allows users to quickly locate 42 content areas within codes of conduct ranging from conflict of interest to export controls
and insider trading.

Preparing Policies

As of December 2011, 768 users had registered to view the dataset, including a host of inside counsel, who are often responsible for drafting codes of conduct. One user, Jay Martin, chief compliance officer and senior deputy general counsel at Baker Hughes, an oil industry services company, says the database provides the opportunity to review not only the codes of companies in the same industry, but also those of other recognized, well-run companies.

Although the industry categories conform to Securities and Exchange Commission industrial classifications based on company securities filings, searching for a company by industry is not always self-evident. Google Inc., for example, is listed under “Services - Computer Programing” and appears to be the only company in that category. McKesson Corp. is listed under “Wholesale – Drugs Proprietaries & Druggists’ Sundries.”

An Ethisphere spokesperson says the organization will review possible future improvements to the dataset to make it more user-friendly.

Michael Kozubek

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