Part 1. 

The Code of Conduct is arguably an organization’s most public and ubiquitous document. It unites all employees, agents, vendors, and business associates who commit to behave in accordance organizational Standards. The Compliance Officer often oversees the Code of Conduct’s maintenance and distribution and relies on the Code to support them in assessing corporate ethics and risk. So, why does the Code of Conduct too often “sit on the shelf” and adapt only to major events like a merger? Rules and roles in healthcare can change often, so Compliance Officers should occasionally lead an effort to refresh the Code and affirm the organizational expectations. Follow the Critical Path to begin the process: 

NOW: Find the current version. Compile an itemized list of all materials that cite or reference the Code of Conduct. Become familiar with these materials and ensure that each has a clear administrator. Perform a formative assessment by using qualitative methods to gauge employee awareness, understanding, and engagement with the Code. Review historical compliance issue and incident reports and detect trends that implicate the Code of Conduct. Research other organizations’ Codes of Conduct, especially within the industry. Note common themes and language, and how these features support the Mission, Vision, and Values. 

NEXT WEEK: Write a business plan. The major consideration is the scope. The Standards in the Code of Conduct need to be broad enough to guide people in all of their activities and relationships, but it needs to be narrow enough to have pragmatic applications to daily life. Specify a timeline, milestones, targets, budget, and leadership team. Assign a Project Manager and writer/drafter. Prepare a draft communications/delivery plan in conjunction with the Public Relations, Strategy, or Marketing Department. 

NEXT: Present the business plan to Compliance Committee for feedback and acceptance. Draft a team Compact/Charter for the project. Present the revised plan and Charter to the President/CEO (and Board if need be) for approval. Send invitations to prospective team members and include the Charter. Schedule a series of workshops. Plan to invite guests and subject matter experts as needed. 

We’ll continue next week with Part 2.