Resisting ‘Code’ Breaking At The Job

Resisting ‘Code’ Breaking At The Job

Once every year, corporations all over the world take time (and money) to re-educate their employees about the company’s ethics policies and procedures. Many call it a Code of Conduct. The Code usually covers a gambit of topics from, accepting gifts from clients to boundaries with coworkers. The objectives are to align all employees on the company’s conduct standards and to document each person’s commitment to comply (that’s why we have to sign it every year). The desired result is protection for the company, including its reputation, its employees, its clients, and ultimately, its future.

While, undoubtedly, the vast majority of employees and managers agree with the concept of the company Code of Conduct, the application of it tends to be a different story. For many people, the Code of Conduct is for putting principles on paper, not into practice. Justifications for non-compliance can vary, but there is one common thread; they simply don’t believe they can be successful without breaking the code…at least once in a while.

As a Christian professional, how do you resist a ‘code-breaking’ culture at work and keep your biblical integrity intact?

Here are few thoughts to always remember:

  • Your True Code of Conduct – As a faithful professional, your integrity doesn’t begin with your company’s ethics policies. You answer to a Higher Code on which other codes get their foundation. For example, God commands us to (1) do what we have committed to do (Matthew 5:33), (2) submit to the authority of our employers (Romans 13:1-4) and (3) treat others the way you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). These three scriptures alone sum up most company ethics policies. So the next time you sign your annual Code of Conduct agreement, remember it’s not just your manager who will be holding you accountable.
  • Nothing Is Hidden…For Long – It is foolish, absolutely foolish, to think you can circumvent the ethics policies and get away with it…for long. Why? One word…omniscience. God knows…everything. And as a loving, all-knowing God, He will expose anything we try to hide for the sake of saving us from ourselves. For those who have fallen into unethical practices, let me offer a word advice. It’s always better to reveal than to be exposed. Do like Proverbs 28:13 instructs and be your own whistle-blower.
  • To Tell or Not To Tell – This is a tricky one. It’s one thing to be your own whistle-blower but what about telling on others? What about telling on your manager???!!! Most Codes of Conduct I have seen include a clause about reporting unethical behavior. If you signed it, God expects you to do it. I know this may seem like career suicide in some cases but try to remember Who is holding the knit of time and space together right now. He can keep your career together.
    Special Note: This doesn’t mean you have to be an ethics police investigator at work. God expects us to do our best to live a quiet life and mind our own business (1 Thess. 4:11). But if God has you in a position where the wrongdoing is right in front of you, He expects you to do something about it.
  • Success That Costs Too Much – I get it. You want to succeed. You want to achieve. You want to excel. But at what cost; your soul? (Mark 8:36) Bonuses and promotions come and go, but your soul will live forever. Make sure it’s under good management.

How have you been resisting the temptation to ‘code-break’? Why do you think this is so prevalent in corporate culture? What faithful action can a professional take when it appears the company’s compensation model is perpetuating unethical practices?

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