A code of ethics is going to look different from your moral code because it’s something that has rules for right behavior. This particular code of ethics is one written for an audience. That audience could be the people with whom you work or the clients or customers you serve…. This code of ethics would be easier to write if you’ve already written your moral code, so if you haven’t done that, you may want to go back and try it. Your moral code informs your code of ethics. Also, your moral code includes lots of key words for virtues and values that you can insert into sentences to make the code of ethics more personalized.

If you work for an organization, you may already have a list of rules, a client bill of rights, or a code of conduct. If any of these documents exist, find and look through them for helpful rules for your behavior that will encourage you to refrain from harm. Write them down first, followed by any rules you’d like to add for your own behavior. Try starting each rule with the sentence "I will…" and finish up with the rule you’ve set for yourself to try to follow. Next, offer any assurances of power to clients or coworkers in your working relationship. Try starting sentences with, "You will always…" For example, "You will always be able to ask me questions and get an honest answer within one business day." Finally, offer assurances of any wrong behaviors you wish to avoid. Try starting a sentence with, "You will never…" For example, "You will never be asked to share private information."

When you’re finished with your code of ethics, check to see if any of your rules overlap or can be combined. You don’t want to provide a wall of text and inundate people with information they’re never going to read. Once you’ve got a relatively neat and tidy list, you’re ready to hang it on the wall. Make sure to ask the powers that be in your workplace if it’s okay to hang your code of ethics somewhere it is visible and readable. Also set a date on your calendar to review it and make sure the code is still viable. It may happen that after you’ve had it hanging for a while, you’ll realize that some of the wording is confusing. It’s a good idea to revise regularly if you have time. This can also be used as a good team-building activity with your coworkers, if you have them.

Alexandra Chaudran in Compassion is the Key to Everything