POLYAS Election Glossary

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Code of Ethics

A code of ethics is a set of guiding principles that help members of organizations, professionals or employees act with integrity as they carry out their roles. These principles set the standard of behavior expected of members, professionals or employees, and penalties for violating the code may be severe. Codes of ethics can generally be put into two main categories:

  • Compliance-based - these codes of ethics are regulated by law and therefore set out clear standards of conduct and corresponding penalties for breaching the code. As the level of government regulation varies between industries, organizations in some sectors will dedicate significant resources towards ensuring a code of ethics is in place and train members or employees to ensure that it is adhered to. 
  • Core values-based - these codes of ethics are based on the core values of individual organizations. They often refer to issues of corporate responsibility such as acting to benefit society at large as well as running the organization in an environmentally sustainable manner. Unlike compliance-based codes, they are a form of self-regulation and therefore violating these codes may not result in any legal wrongdoing but are likely to result in disciplinary action from within the organization.
See also: Chambers of Commerce, Cooperatives

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