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What is a code of conduct and why is it important?

A company code of conduct is considered an articulation of an organization’s purpose, values, and expectations to all stakeholders, regardless of company size, industry, or for-profit/non-profit status. This document should provide insight into how the company lives its values: how employees behave, make decisions, pursue goals, and promote a culture of ethics and compliance. (In fact, codes of conduct are also frequently known as codes of ethics.)

To help you develop an effective code of conduct, LRN evaluated nearly 150 codes deployed by companies around the world. The resulting LRN 2022 Code of Conduct Report shares best practices in code design and implementation, identifying eight dimensions that serve as crucial guideposts as you assess your own code effectiveness. 

Get the 2022 Code of Conduct Report


How to write a code of conduct

The code of conduct has undergone an evolution over the last 20 years. Once written as textbook-sized rule books, today’s best code of conduct examples are visually engaging, readable, and useful to employees as guides to help them make ethical decisions and do the right thing. Good codes of conduct provide a behavioral framework for individual business professionals, teams, leaders, and organizations regardless of affiliation, level, or geography. They also leverage advanced technology for easy access, better employee engagement, and just-in-time insights for navigating the grey areas that are inevitable in the new world of work.

How to create an effective code of conduct

9 ethical code of conduct examples

Are you writing or refreshing your code of conduct? Check out these additional resources.

What is the purpose of code of conduct training?

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Simply writing a code of conduct does not change the culture of your organization. You have to educate employees on what’s included in your code, how those elements apply to their day-to-day work, and what consequences they might face if they engage in misconduct. This is where importance of code of conduct training comes in.

Code of conduct training is designed to teach all employees—including managers and senior leaders—about your company’s code of conduct and help them understand their ethical and legal responsibilities to each other and the wider organization. Code of conduct training also helps prevent violations of the company code and maintain an appropriate working environment for everyone.

Learn more about code of conduct training here

What types of code of conduct
training are available to compliance,
legal, and HR departments?

Like all compliance training, code of conduct training for employees can be delivered in a variety of formats. Below are the most common types of training.

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Online training

Online code of conduct training is usually designed for employees to learn at their own pace. This format can be helpful if you are trying to fit in training around other company obligations.

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Classroom-based training 

Code of conduct classroom-based training typically occurs in a group setting and may require more time commitment than online training does. However, some employees find it beneficial because it provides them with an opportunity to interact with others in their industry.

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Hybrid approach

Some compliance teams create code of conduct training that offers a mix of online and classroom-based sessions depending on their organizational structure, employee populations, or similar factors. This hybrid approach can help ensure that training reaches everyone no matter where they sit.

Before creating any training materials, it's important to understand who will be taking the course and how they'll apply what they learned. As you develop your code training, consider the position levels, roles, regions, and learning demographics of your employee populations. Access to technology, reading comprehension, and sheer time are all factors that can affect the content and delivery method of your code of conduct training for employees.

Learn how to make code of conduct training interesting 

Educate employees, spend less, and reduce risk. Sample our code of conduct training today.

Who needs to take code of conduct training in your business?

Code of conduct training is a must-have for anyone who has contact with employees or customers—for example, managers, directors, and executives. No matter how well-educated an employee is about their organization’s ethical standards, it is up to senior leaders to model the behaviors they expect from the entire company. 

It’s also important to consider the impact that your company code can have on other parties. Certain business practices or decisions may require your contractors, investors, or board of directors to complete code of conduct training as part of the process.

Read why code of conduct training is important 

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How to build a code of conduct training program 

Code of conduct training is essential to your company’s success and therefore needs to meet certain specifications. When developing your code of conduct training program, make sure it’s designed to reflect your: 

•    Industry requirements and/or regulations 
•    Company size and scope 
•    Budget for training 
•    Employee population(s)

An effective code of conduct training program for employees and contractors should clearly communicate their responsibilities when it comes to respecting one another and the wider organization. Answer the following questions as a helpful starting point for developing your own training. 

Why is code of conduct training important?

- What is the purpose of this training?

 - What will the training accomplish?

- How does it align with other company goals?

What are the policies, roles, responsibilities, and resources?

- How often will policies be updated based on changes within our industry or company?

- Who is responsible for communicating our organizational values and policies?

- Who needs to know about our organizational values and policies?

- What resources are available for employees to learn more about our policies or get help if they have questions or concerns? 

How will we implement our code of conduct at work?

- How do we plan to track compliance?

- What does our organization do (or not do) when it comes to a violation of the code of conduct?

- How long should someone expect to wait after filing a report?

- Will all complaints be confidential within E&C and/or HR teams except when legally required otherwise?

Best practices for code of conduct training 

It is also important that you structure your code of conduct training course to follow E&C training best practices. Here are four tips to keep in mind when creating your training.

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The content of the course should be relevant to your organization's needs and culture.
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The code of conduct training course should be easy to understand and follow.
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The content must be up to date with legislation, policies, and regulations and feel current to the time.
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The instructor code of conduct training should be knowledgeable of the subject matter and able to answer questions from participants during the training session.

Customizable code of conduct training for employees.

Is code of conduct training required by law? 

Like all other compliance training, code of conduct training is a mandatory course (or series of courses) that must be completed by every employee—including contractors and contingent workers—regardless of their role, position level, or tenure in the organization. Code of conduct training is also required under certain circumstances, including: 

•    If you're a public company (NASDAQ or NYSE) 
•    If you work with government customers

Guidance from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicates that training employees on how your company code of conduct relates to their role and where they can locate it can help ensure that your code is accessible and applicable to everyone. Similarly, the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) notes that organizations with comprehensive code of conduct training for employees may be able to avoid up to 95% of potential fines and penalties assessed for violations of federal law.

What to tell employees who ask if code of conduct training is mandatory 

Examples of what should be included in code of conduct training



When designing your compliance training program, it’s important to first determine the type of content to include in your code of conduct course. It’s likely that your industry will largely dictate course content. (For example, covering how to disclose conflicts of interest with clients if you're a financial services company.)

A key goal of code of conduct training for employees is to help people understand how to avoid code violations, thereby mitigating risk. The more they know about what can go wrong, the better equipped they will be to prevent it from happening at work. Some common areas to cover in code of conduct training include:

•    Your company values and how to apply them at work
•    Common code of conduct violation examples
•    How to prevent and report misconduct in the workplace

LRN offers a range of learning formats including video vignettes, quizzes, infographics, and writing prompts for an expanding series of foundational training courses on topics like code of conduct.

What to consider when buying code of conduct training 

Before you purchase code of conduct training for your employees, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of who will be trained, what your organization expects in terms of training results, and how much time and money you have to invest in this process.

Do I need a custom code of conduct training course?

A custom code of conduct course enables you to train employees with a tailored set of guidelines and rules that best suit their particular needs as well as the wider company culture. Customizing your code training also ensures that employees receive the most current and accurate information possible when it comes to ethical practices.

Should the training be delivered in person, virtually, or a mix of both?

It can be challenging to determine the best way to deliver code of conduct training for employees. Delivering the training in person can make it more interactive and work for larger groups. If your employees are remote or work across vastly different schedules and time zones, it might be better for them to complete training virtually. You can also take a hybrid approach and offer in-person and virtual delivery methods. LRN offers all these options

How long should code of conduct training be for employees?

The length of your code of conduct training can depend on a variety of factors, such as the length of your code’s key elements, external deadlines from senior leadership, or how much time your employees have on a given workday. 

Preparing employees on how to follow your code of conduct is crucial. If you feel that you don’t have enough time for code of conduct training, LRN can help! Our team of experts can create training materials for your employees and train them in-house or remotely.

Why work with LRN?

The best way to achieve compliance with your company code of conduct is by consistently training employees on their obligations, risks, and responsibilities to building and maintaining an ethical workplace culture. For over 25 years, LRN has helped organizations like yours build ethics and compliance programs that reduce risk and meet industry requirements while still prioritizing organizational culture, the learner experience, and business performance.  

We offer personalized services and products that are designed with your specific needs in mind, including:  

  • A compliance management, analytics, and disclosures platform
  • Advisory services
  • Library training courses
  • Custom learning content
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