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Our professional code of ethics policy aims to give our employees guidelines on our business ethics and stance on various controversial matters.
Code of Ethics
Our professional code of ethics policy aims to give our employees guidelines on our business ethics and stance on various controversial matters. We trust you to use your better judgment, but we want to provide you with a concrete guide you can fall back on if you’re unsure about how you should act (e.g. in cases of conflict of interest). We will also use this policy to outline the consequences of violating our business code of ethics.
This policy applies to everyone we employ or have business relations with. This includes individual people such as employees, interns, volunteers, but also business entities, such as vendors, enterprise customers or venture capital companies.
Having our business ethics in writing doesn’t mean that we don’t trust our employees. We strive to hire ethical people who have their own personal standards, so we expect that a written code won’t be necessary most of the time.
But, it can still be helpful. You may find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure how you should act. Life is full of grey areas where right and wrong aren’t so apparent. Some professional ethics also correspond to laws that you absolutely must know to do your job properly, so we will mention them in our code of ethics.
Additionally, every organization makes bad hires every once in a while. We also can’t predict how people are going to behave. When an employee behaves, or intents to behave, in a way that’s against our professional ethics, or applicable laws, we will have clear guidelines on what disciplinary actions we will consider.
First, let’s define professional ethics: they are a set of principles that guide the behavior of people in a business context. They are essential to maintaining the legality of business and a healthy workplace.
So what is a code of ethics? Our code of ethics definition refers to the standards that apply to a specific setting – in this case, our own organization.
The components of our code of professional ethics
We base our business code of ethics on common principles of ethics:
Common principles of ethics
It’s mandatory to respect everyone you interact with. Be kind, polite and understanding. You must respect others’ personal space, opinions and privacy. Any kind of violence is strictly prohibited and will result in immediate termination. You’re also not allowed to harass or victimize others.
What constitutes harassment or victimization? To answer this, we have a policy on harassment and a more specific policy on sexual harassment you can take a look at. As a general rule, try to put yourself in someone else’s
place. How would you feel if someone behaved a specific way to you? If the answer is “I wouldn’t like it much” or “I would never let them behave like that to me”, then we don’t tolerate this behavior no matter the person it comes from.
If someone, be it customer, colleague or stakeholder, is offensive, demeaning or threatening toward you or someone you know, report them immediately to HR or your manager. You can also report rudeness and dismissiveness if they become excessive or frequent.
First, always keep in mind our organization’s mission. We all work together to achieve specific outcomes. Your behavior should contribute to our goals, whether financial or organizational.
Be honest and transparent when you act in ways that impact other people (e.g. taking strategic decisions or deciding on layoffs). We don’t tolerate malicious, deceitful or petty conduct. Lies and cheating are huge red flags and, if you’re discovered, you may face progressive discipline or immediate termination depending on the damage you did.
Stealing from the company or other people is illegal. If you’re caught, you will face repercussions depending on the severity of your actions. For example, if you steal office supplies, you may receive a reprimand or demotion (at a minimum), while if you steal money or data (e.g. engaging in fraud or embezzlement), you will get fired and face legal consequences. The decision is at HR’s discretion on a case-by-case basis.
Conflict of interest may occur whenever your interest in a particular subject leads you to actions, activities or relationships that undermine our company. This includes situations like using your position’s authority for your own personal gain or exploiting company resources to support a personal money- making business. Even when you seemingly act to the company’s advantage,
you may actually disadvantage it. For example, if an employee uses dubious methods to get competitor intel and raise their sales record, their action will have a positive impact on the company’s revenue, but it will put us at a legal risk and promote unhealthy business practices.
If it turns out you have created a conflict of interest for yourself, you will be terminated. If the conflict of interest was involuntary (e.g. buying stocks from a company without knowing they’re a competitor), we will take actions to rectify the situation. If you repeat the offence, you may be terminated.
Don’t act in a way that exploits others, their hard work or their mistakes. Give everyone equal opportunity and speak up when someone else doesn’t.
Be objective when making decisions that can impact other people, including when you’re deciding to hire, promote or fire someone. Be sure that you can justify any decision with written records or examples. Seek and use the most objective methods in any case; for example, when interviewing candidates, ask the same interview questions to all of them and avoid judging non-job- related criteria, like dress, appearance, etc.
Also, don’t discriminate against people with protected characteristics, as this is forbidden by [laws under the purview of the EEOC]. If you suspect you may have an unconscious bias that influences your decisions (taking Harvard’s Implicit Association Test could help you determine this), ask for help from HR.
When exercising authority, be fair. Don’t show favoritism toward specific employees and be transparent when you decide to praise or reward an employee. You’re also obliged to follow our employment of relatives policy, which forbids you from having a reporting relationship with a relative.
If you need to discipline an employee, be sure to have prepared a case that you can present to HR. You must not retaliate against employees or
applicants (such as in cases when they’ve filed complaints) as this is forbidden by law.
Be just toward customers or vendors, too. If you think our company was in the wrong in a specific instance, don’t try to cover it up or accuse the other side. Discuss with your manager to find solutions that can benefit both sides.
You are obliged to follow all laws which apply to our organization. Depending on your role and profession, there might be various laws you need to observe. For example, accountants and medical professionals have their own legal restrictions and they must be fully aware of them.
When you’re preparing contracts, clauses, disclaimers or online copy that may be governed by law (such as consent forms), please ask verification from [our legal counsel] before finalizing anything.
You’re also covered by our confidentiality and data protection policy. You must not expose, disclose or endanger information of customers, employees, stakeholders or our business. Always follow our cybersecurity policy, too.
Following laws regarding fraud, bribery, corruption and any kind of assault is a given. You are also obliged to follow laws on child labor and avoid doing business with unlawful organizations.
If you’re not sure what the law is in a specific instance, don’t hesitate to ask HR or our legal counsel.
We all need to put a healthy amount of effort in our work. Not just because we’re all responsible for the organization’s success, but also because slacking off affects our colleagues. Incomplete or slow working might hinder other
people’s work or cause them to shoulder the burden themselves. This comes in direct conflict with our respect and integrity principles.
We also expect you to take up opportunities for learning and development, either on-the-job or via educational material or training. If you are unsure how you can achieve this, have an open discussion with your manager.
Also, take responsibility for your actions. We all make mistakes or need to make tough decisions and it’s important we own up to them. Failing to be accountable on a regular basis or in important situations (e.g. a crucial mistake in our financial records) will result in termination. If you take responsibility and come up with ways to fix your mistakes where possible, you will be in a far better position.
Working well with others is a virtue, rather than an obligation. You will certainly get to work autonomously and be focused on your own projects and responsibilities. But, you should also be ready to collaborate with and help others.
Be generous with your expertise and knowledge. Be open to learning and evolving. If days go by without you consulting or brainstorming with anyone, you are missing out on opportunities for excellence. Instead, work with others and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
Business Dress Code Policy
Our dress code company policy outlines how we expect our employees to dress at work. Employees should note that their appearance matters when representing our company in front of clients, visitors or other parties. An employee’s appearance can create a positive or negative impression that reflects on our company and culture.
This policy applies to all our employees.
These dress code rules always apply:
● All employees must be clean and well-groomed. Grooming styles dictated by religion and ethnicity aren’t restricted.
● All clothes must be work-appropriate. Clothes that are typical in workouts and outdoor activities aren’t allowed.
● All clothes must project professionalism. Clothes that are too revealing or inappropriate aren’t allowed.
● All clothes must be clean and in good shape. Discernible rips, tears or holes aren’t allowed.
● Employees must avoid clothes with stamps that are offensive or inappropriate.
Our company’s official dress code is [ Business/ Business Casual/ Smart Casual/ Casual. ]
We may change our dress code in special cases. For example, we may require employees to wear semi-formal attire for an event. Then, both male and female employees should wear suits, ties, white shirts and appropriate shoes. Our company may also introduce [dress-down Friday] when employees can wear more casual clothing like jeans, simple blouses and boots. This won’t apply if employees are meeting with clients, partners and other external parties.
An employee’s position may inform their dress code. If employees frequently meet with clients or prospects, they should conform to a business dress code.
When an employee disregards our dress code, their supervisor should reprimand them. The employee should start respecting our dress code immediately. In some cases, supervisors may ask employees to returning home to change.
Employees may face more severe consequences up to and including termination, if:
● Their appearance causes irreparable damage, like loss of a major client.
● They repeatedly violate our dress code.
Child labor policy
Our child labor policy is our position on employing minors and aims to ensure that our company, its subsidiaries and everyone we’re connected with follows the law and cares for children’s interests.
International, local and federal child labor laws are stricter today than they were years ago. But millions of children are still forced to work in bad conditions all around the world, even in developed countries.
As an organization, we want to do business in a legal, ethical manner adding value to society and the environment instead of doing harm. Helping stop child labor is fundamental to us. We want to make sure that our organization doesn’t take part in children’s exploitation and also helps end it to the best of our ability.
This policy applies to our entire organization and those we do business or partner with including suppliers, vendors and contractors.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the U.N Convention on the Rights of the Child guide our policy on child labor. When it comes to legal aspects, we always:
● Follow the stricter law if more than one laws apply (e.g. state and federal, local and international).
● Require suppliers, partners and vendors to follow the stricter applicable laws and recognize children’s rights. They must also require their own suppliers, subcontractors and stakeholders to do the same.
In this policy, we refer to “children” as people who are younger than  years of age. “Young children” are people younger than .
“Child labor” refers to work that deprives children of their childhood and affects their schooling, their potential and their dignity. It’s work that’s harmful to them mentally, physically and socially.
When it comes to young children (younger than ), we don’t want to stand in the way of their health, schooling or free time. That’s why we don’t and won’t employ anyone younger than [15 years] of age and require our subsidiaries to do the same, regardless of the country they’re in.
We’re also committed not to do business with any organization that employs children younger than . We’ll include this condition in every contract we sign and reserve the right to break the contract without penalty if our stakeholder violates this condition and refuses to agree on or follow through with an elimination plan.
[Agriculture. Many laws make the distinction between agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. Agricultural job requirements for minors may be less strict, especially if a child works at a family-owned farm. In these cases, we’ll follow the law when doing business with agricultural businesses and we’ll make sure that children involved aren’t placed in danger via regular audits and official documentation.]
Parental employment. We might occasionally do business with family-owned businesses. Those businesses are usually allowed to employ the owner’s young children as long as the work isn’t too hazardous (e.g. mining, manufacturing). We accept this regulation, but we’ll still dissolve our contract if it comes to our attention that these children are exposed in danger or are working consistently during school hours.
Occasional work. Sometimes, parents bring their children to work to teach them skills and introduce them to a work environment. They may also hand them some tasks to complete (e.g. a painter may ask his child to help with a painting job he’s taken). This is an acceptable practice, as long as it doesn’t deprive children of school on a consistent basis or puts them in any danger. (For example, the painter shouldn’t allow his son to inhale toxic paint or ask him to climb on scaffolding.)
When it comes to employing children who are older than , we’ll always follow the local and international laws. As a general rule, these children can have a job, but they should never do work that jeopardizes their health and safety or affects their schooling and development.
With this rule in mind, we may employ children older than  for light work such as [stocking shelves, being cashiers, delivering packages in short distances on bicycles, light cleaning duties etc.] They will not use any heavy or dangerous equipment, chemicals or vehicles when working.
We’ll determine their work hours and wage based on applicable laws. We won’t employ children for more than the maximum weekly or daily hours allowed. [For example, according to the U.S. federal child labor laws, work hours for children between 14 and 16 years old have a limit of 18 hours a week.]
These are mandatory conditions when forming partnerships or other business relationships. We’ll refuse to do business with anyone who employs children of any age in hazardous or exhausting jobs or doesn’t
follow applicable laws on working hours or pay. We also expect them to communicate and enforce the no child labor policy to their own contractors.
To make sure we enforce this policy and help eliminate child labor, we’re committed to:
● Working with governments and other organizations to end child labor. We may sponsor or organize actions to educate communities, build schools or find ways to ensure children won’t be forced to work to support their families.
● Educating our staff on youth work laws and show them how to report child labor if they see or suspect it.
● Requiring hiring managers and HR to avoid hiring minors under the legal age for working. We also expect them to know and follow this policy and laws on wages and hours for older children.
● Keeping and validating documentation verifying our employees’ age after they’re hired. If we discover that we’ve hired a minor under the age of 18, we’ll review applicable laws and adjust working hours accordingly. If we need to let the child go, we’ll assess their situation and make sure to provide for them to the best of our ability (e.g. pay him or her their would-be salary for a couple of months) when necessary.
● Communicating our no child labor policy to organizations we’re connected with and ensure our contracts have the right stipulations.
● Auditing suppliers and partners (especially those in industries with high child labor risk) periodically to ensure they aren’t involved in child labor, possibly with unannounced onsite visits too. We’ll require them to provide us with an updated list of all their business locations at all times. If we discover hidden business sites that employ children, we’ll dissolve our contract immediately.
● Demanding and monitoring an elimination plan in cases where suppliers discover child labor in their business. We’ll also work together with the stakeholder to create plans to support children, keeping their best interests in mind, and make efforts to involve them and their families in the process.
● Employing or consulting with experts on topics like child labor, health and safety standards or corporate social responsibility.
We want to grow and thrive as a business, but we’re also committed to do good by the community we belong in. We ask all of our employees and partners to follow this policy, not just because we demand it as an organization, but because securing a bright future for children is everyone’s duty.
Cyber security policy
Our company cyber security policy outlines our guidelines and provisions for preserving the security of our data and technology infrastructure.
The more we rely on technology to collect, store and manage information, the more vulnerable we become to severe security breaches. Human errors, hacker attacks and system malfunctions could cause great financial damage and may jeopardize our company’s reputation.
For this reason, we have implemented a number of security measures. We have also prepared instructions that may help mitigate security risks. We have outlined both provisions in this policy.
This policy applies to all our employees, contractors, volunteers and anyone who has permanent or temporary access to our systems and hardware.
Confidential data is secret and valuable. Common examples are:
● Unpublished financial information
● Data of customers/partners/vendors
● Patents, formulas or new technologies
● Customer lists (existing and prospective)
All employees are obliged to protect this data. In this policy, we will give our employees instructions on how to avoid security breaches.
Protect personal and company devices
When employees use their digital devices to access company emails or accounts, they introduce security risk to our data. We advise our employees to keep both their personal and company-issued computer, tablet and cell phone secure. They can do this if they:
● Keep all devices password protected.
● Choose and upgrade a complete antivirus software.
Ensure they do not leave their devices exposed or unattended.
● Install security updates of browsers and systems monthly or as soon as updates are available.
● Log into company accounts and systems through secure and private networks only.
We also advise our employees to avoid accessing internal systems and accounts from other people’s devices or lending their own devices to others.
When new hires receive company-issued equipment they will receive instructions for:
● [Disk encryption setup]
● [Password management tool setup]
● [Installation of antivirus/ anti-malware software]
They should follow instructions to protect their devices and refer to our [Security Specialists/ Network Engineers] if they have any questions.
Emails often host scams and malicious software (e.g. worms.) To avoid virus infection or data theft, we instruct employees to:
Avoid opening attachments and clicking on links when the content is not adequately explained (e.g. “watch this video, it’s amazing.”)
Be suspicious of clickbait titles (e.g. offering prizes, advice.)
Check email and names of people they received a message from to ensure they are legitimate.
Look for inconsistencies or give-aways (e.g. grammar mistakes, capital letters, excessive
number of exclamation marks.)
If an employee isn’t sure that an email they received is safe, they can refer to our [IT Specialist.]
Password leaks are dangerous since they can compromise our entire infrastructure. Not only should passwords be secure so they won’t be easily hacked, but they should also remain secret. For this reason, we advice our employees to:
● Choose passwords with at least eight characters (including capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols) and avoid information that can be easily guessed (e.g. birthdays.)
● Remember passwords instead of writing them down. If employees need to write their passwords, they are obliged to keep the paper or digital document confidential and destroy it when their work is done.
● Exchange credentials only when absolutely necessary. When exchanging them in-person isn’t possible, employees should prefer the phone instead of email, and only if they personally recognize the person they are talking to.
● Change their passwords every two months.
Remembering a large number of passwords can be daunting. We will purchase the services of a password management tool which generates and stores passwords. Employees are obliged to create a secure password for the tool itself, following the abovementioned advice.
Transferring data introduces security risk. Employees must:
● Avoid transferring sensitive data (e.g. customer information, employee records) to other devices or accounts unless absolutely necessary. When mass transfer of such data is needed, we request employees to ask our [Security Specialists] for help.
● Share confidential data over the company network/ system and not over public Wi-Fi or private connection.
● Ensure that the recipients of the data are properly authorized people or organizations and have adequate security policies.
● Report scams, privacy breaches and hacking attempts
Our [IT Specialists/ Network Engineers] need to know about scams, breaches and malware so they can better protect our infrastructure. For this reason, we advise our employees to report perceived attacks, suspicious emails or phishing attempts as soon as possible to our specialists. Our [IT Specialists/ Network Engineers] must investigate promptly, resolve the issue and send a companywide alert when necessary.
Our Security Specialists are responsible for advising employees on how to detect scam emails. We encourage our employees to reach out to them with any questions or concerns.
To reduce the likelihood of security breaches, we also instruct our employees to:
● Turn off their screens and lock their devices when leaving their desks.
● Report stolen or damaged equipment as soon as possible to [HR/ IT Department].
● Change all account passwords at once when a device is stolen.
● Report a perceived threat or possible security weakness in company systems.
● Refrain from downloading suspicious, unauthorized or illegal software on their company
● Avoid accessing suspicious websites.
We also expect our employees to comply with our social media and internet usage policy. Our [Security Specialists/ Network Administrators] should:
● Install firewalls, anti malware software and access authentication systems.
● Arrange for security training to all employees.
● Inform employees regularly about new scam emails or viruses and ways to combat them.
Remote employees must follow this policy’s instructions too. Since they will be accessing our company’s accounts and systems from a distance, they are obliged to follow all data encryption, protection standards and settings, and ensure their private network is secure.
We encourage them to seek advice from our [Security Specialists/ IT Administrators.]
We expect all our employees to always follow this policy and those who cause security breaches may face disciplinary action:
● First-time, unintentional, small-scale security breach: We may issue a verbal warning and train the employee on security.
● Intentional, repeated or large scale breaches (which cause severe financial or other damage): We will invoke more severe disciplinary action up to and including termination.
We will examine each incident on a case-by-case basis.
Additionally, employees who are observed to disregard our security instructions will face progressive discipline, even if their behavior hasn’t resulted in a security breach.
Everyone, from our customers and partners to our employees and contractors, should feel that their data is safe. The only way to gain their trust is to proactively protect our systems and databases. We can all contribute to this by being vigilant and keeping cyber security top of mind.