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ESG-Topics to Be Included in a Code of Conduct

A code of conduct is a set of rules and regulations that guides the employees’ behaviour in a workplace. The code sets principles on which the employees should act and enhance their workforce by making the right decisions. It enables workers to understand what is acceptable and what it is not. The workplace policy components can comprise ESG, which stands for environmental, social and governance aspects.

A workplace policy is a good representation of an organisation’s culture and values, and it is a foundation on which the policy is built. It plays an essential part in ensuring compliance efforts among the workers and third parties. In addition, it is considered a benchmark of performance in various workplaces and acts as a reference point for workers to make informed choices daily.

Environmental Codes of Conduct in the Workplace

Employers must ensure that they have set up environmental codes that protect the welfare of employees by minimising unpleasant environmental impacts and setting out to enhance the workplace ecosystem continuously.

Workplace Environment

Organisations must ensure a healthy and safe working ecosystem. They must provide protective equipment, potable drinking water, adequate lighting, sanitation and ventilation. Additionally, the management should ensure that their activities do not endanger any personnel’s health and safety. The establishment must also adhere to the local authority’s regulations and laws.

Product Safety and Hazardous Materials

The management should identify hazardous materials, substances and materials to ensure safe storage, handling, recycling, reuse and maybe disposal. The organisation must follow the local regulations and laws regarding hazardous substances to avoid conflict with the authorities.

Waste Minimisation and Prevention of Pollution

Careless disposal of wastes can negatively impact human and environmental health. Thus, it is essential to manage, treat and control the waste materials before releasing them into the environment. The management should strive to implement pollution measures that prevent and minimise waste generation.

Permits and Authorisations

Organisations are required to have proof of environmental certification, authorisation and permits.

Emergency Response and Preparedness

Employers should train their workers on responsiveness and emergency planning, such as first aid and fire management techniques. They should be able to assess, identify and prepare for emergencies.

Social Codes of Conduct in the Workplace

Equal Opportunity Policy

Many countries advocate for equal opportunity employer law, and discrimination in the workplace is prohibited. These social policies prevent employers from discriminating against job seekers and employees based on their gender, race and religion. The policy plays a significant role in advocating for anti-harassment, non-discrimination and workplace violence. It supports inclusion and diversity in companies.

Dignity and Respect

Employers should ensure that all workers are treated with dignity and respect. They should be protected from sexual harassment, physical, verbal abuse and coercion, and other abuse.

Freedom of Association

Employees should be able to associate and interact with others freely. They should be able to communicate and express their views with the management concerning their working conditions without encountering any form of threats such as reprisal, retribution and harassment. Also, they should be left to decide whether they want to join workers’ unions or not, join work councils and seek representation.

Wages, Benefits and Working Hours

Employers should ensure that workers comply with the general laws and standards to regulate the working hours, including breaks, holidays, rest periods, paternity and maternity leaves. The management is responsible for ensuring employees get compensation, overtime payments and benefits as per the local authority laws and regulations.

Free Choice of Employment

 Individuals should be allowed to choose their kind of employment freely without being forced or involuntarily. The employees should not also be forced to remain at work against their will within whichever period.

Child Labour and Young Workers

Employees must consider the applicable working age limit in the jurisdiction, and they should not tolerate and participate in any form of child labour. In most countries, there is a stipulated age viewed as child labour and abuse if found working. Thus, employers must not seek the services of a person with an unacceptable legal age for employment according to the local laws and regulations.

Governance Codes of Conduct in the Workplace

Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy

Employers or employees should never indirectly or directly, through third parties or any other personnel, donate gifts or offer bribes and other financial contributions to employees, stakeholders or any other individual to influence them to gain favours. The employers must not receive kickbacks or take actions to violate business partners. In summary, organisations must adhere to anti-bribery and corruption policies diligently.

Receiving of Gifts and Benefits

Offering and receiving benefits and gifts might constitute a bribe when analysed from a different viewpoint or in certain circumstances. Gifts and benefits may lead to a conflict of interest in the workplace. This comprises providing employees with frequent meals, cash and expensive gifts. Giving out valuable things to obtain or retain favour influences and obligates the employee.

Protect Confidential and Personal Data

Employers must protect the employees’ privacy regarding personal data and information. The management has access to confidential and proprietary details that belong to their workers, clients or any other affiliate. They should be able to recognise such kinds of data and adopt appropriate actions to secure it from improper disclosure. The management should never solicit private data from workers, clients and affiliates. Every individual in an organisation must comply with local regulations and data security and confidentiality laws.

Handling Infringements

Organisations should be aware of the infringement of laws and regulations. Individuals who infringe laws and regulations must face the necessary consequences reflecting the infringement scope and type. In case of an infringement issue in the workplace, the employees must report to the management. Failure to report an infringement is a breach of the code of conduct.

Money Laundering

Employees and all group companies are prohibited from money laundering. Besides, they should be on the lookout to avoid socialising and associating with persons suspected of money laundering.

How to Prepare a Code of Conduct

In preparing workplace policies, start by determining the individuals to be included in the process. Mostly the individuals involved are the management, stakeholders and long term employees. Many of these policies are developed by senior management and reviewed by loyal employees, and stakeholders are prone to be affected by the laws and regulations. Here are the steps of preparing the policy.

1. Consider Various Ethical Issues that Might Have Happened In the Past

Referring to past ethical issues will enable you to develop ways to prevent them in the future in the workplace conduct. Also, you can consider ethical issues faced by other organisations and address them early to prevent them from occurring within your organisation.

2. Develop an Outline and Discuss It With Stakeholders

Determine the components that you are going to include in your policy. Subsequently, understand the elements and details to include in each section. The elements may include but are not limited to dress code, equal opportunity, substance use and privacy policy. Once you have outlined your policy, share it with the stakeholders to review and discuss its contents.

3. Develop the Final Draft

After every individual involved has had a chance to contribute, you can then develop the ultimate draft for publication and review.


Most workplace policies comprise ESG aspects that guide the employees’ behaviour and interactions in a workplace. Some organisations offer their workers a code of conduct with many regulations and laws, while others have simple policies. Codes of conduct are mostly found in the employees’ handbooks or the organisation’s website. The easy access allows potential employees, stakeholders and investors to assess the company’s policies and decide if it is the best for them. Contact us to prepare or update your Code of Conduct.

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Georg Tichy

Georg Tichy

Georg Tichy is a management consultant in Europe, focusing on top-management consultancy, projectmanagement, corporate reporting and fundingsupport. Dr. Georg Tichy is also trainer, lecturer at university and advisor on current economic issues. Contact me or Book a MeetingView Author posts