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Why Is a Code of Ethics, Conduct or Practice Important for your Business?

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As a journalist, I choose to act in accordance with the Code of Ethics set out by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), of which honesty, fairness, independence, and respect for the rights of others underpins the code.

This means I strive to ensure that every story I research and write about is honest, fair, independent, and respectful to the rights of others—even this blog post! And over the years, most of the organisations I have worked for, have too, upheld the ethos of the MEAA Code of Ethics.

Of course, just because a particular industry or trade union prescribes a set of guidelines, doesn’t necessarily mean each organisation or practitioner within that industry will uphold them—case in point: News International’s involvement in the phone hacking scandal in the UK.

And usually, until there is a breach of ethics like that of News International’s, it’s rather easy to forget why a code of ethics is necessary, particularly since compliance to the code is often voluntary, or at least, highly malleable.

But by submitting to a code of ethics, conduct or practice, you’re establishing yourself as an authority in your field; you’re telling your customers, clients and employees that you have integrity.

If you’re a bookkeeper or operate your own bookkeeping business, your clients are entrusting you with one of their most prized possessions—their livelihoods, and a code of ethics illustrates to them how you and your business operate.

But there are other reasons to adopt a code of ethics, aside from professional status. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, for instance, instituted a “values-led business” code by donating 7.5 percent of profits to charity, while other organisations value a work culture grounded in a strong ethical framework that promotes high staff retention, greater customer loyalty, and increased productivity.

For all the different reasons an organisation or business would have to adopt a code of ethics, the outcome never deviates—a code of ethics ensures accountability.

If you choose to submit to the Australian Association of Professional Bookkeepers’ Code of Professional Conduct, you’re communicating to your clients what they can expect from you, and, in turn, what you can expect from them—conduct that is ethical and lawful, confidential, objective and independent, and competent.

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