Now all large companies have code of conduct. Codes of conduct refer to documents which highlight major values of companies and “define appropriate professional behaviour” (Thompson and Maginn 2012, p. 67). Thompson and Maginn (2012, p. 67) also note that codes of conduct often offer “a means by which colleagues, clients and the general public can complain about practitioner’s behaviour”. In other words, these are specific guidelines to follow by each employee of the organization.
Admittedly, these ethical rules are more organization-oriented rather than a citizen-oriented. These documents ensure that the organization operates within the boundaries of international and local laws. These codes usually touch upon basic rights of employees, companies’ values and objectives, particular behavioural patterns for employees as well as partners, penalties, etc. Notably, codes are often rather strict as organizations try to make sure the employees do not violate any rules, requirements and ethic conventions.
Admittedly, codes of conduct considerably shape employees’ behaviours. In the first place, employees are to look through the code of conduct when they start working. It is required to follow all the rules highlighted in the codes of conduct of the organization. Therefore, even though employees may find some points ‘strange’ or too strict, they should follow them as in case of any violations they can be punished.
Notably, large companies do not only have codes of conduct for their employees. They create codes of conduct for their partners as well. These codes are similar to organizations’ internal codes. Thus, organizations try to make sure they will not be involved in some disgraceful and/or unlawful activities.
Target’s code of conduct
Target Australia is a large company which is “a leading Australia retailer” (Ethical Sourcing Code 2005, p. 1). It is noted that the company believes “in looking beyond financial results and include social, environmental and ethical indicators” in their “performance measurements” (Ethical Sourcing Code 2005, p. 1). As stated in the code, the company is committed to make sure it sells products which are produced in proper working conditions.
It is necessary to note that the code covers very important points such as: child labour, working hours, discrimination, forced labour, wages, safety and health, “accommodation and equipment safety”, “compliance with local laws, environmental standards and ethical business standards” (Ethical Sourcing Code 2005, p. 1). Remarkably, the code also highlights a means of audit. Thus, it is clear that the company is committed to make sure the code is followed.
Penalties are also mentioned in the code. Therefore, all major points are included in the code: values, specific requirements, penalties. The company has issued the document which is a good guideline for its partners. Admittedly, the partners also need to comply with the mentioned rules and regulations. Otherwise, Target can terminate any partnership. This can ensure that the partners will also stick to globally accepted ways and principles at work place.
Downsides of the Target’s code
The code touches upon really important points. However, many of these points are covered rather superficially. For instance, as far as employment practices are concerned, the code only mentions that the partners should follow local regulations. It is also noted that employees should be aware of their wages before they start working. Nonetheless, it is not specified that employees should understand what their responsibilities and tasks are.
As for the bonded or forced labour, the code slightly touches upon this issue without going into important details. Health and safety regulations and equipment requirements are also highlighted quite superficially. Ethical standards should also be extended.
It is possible to improve the code of conduct discussed. In the first place, it is necessary to extend some points within the boundaries of employment practices. It is crucial to make sure the partners adequately pay their employees. Apart from making employees aware of their wages before they start working, the employees as well as the employers should understand what exactly the employees are paid for.
Some employers may try to make employees fulfil more tasks without any compensation. This is unacceptable. Target’s code does not cover this point which may lead to violations. The absence of this detail may lead to violation of the following paragraphs: “Wages and Benefits” as well as “Forced/Bonded Labour” (Ethical Sourcing Code 2005, p. 2).
The paragraph concerning forced labour needs revision as well. The term ‘involuntary’ is too vague. Though the code mentions that it is unacceptable for the employer to lodge employees’ identity papers, the code does not mention other ways to make people work without proper compensation.
Admittedly, this is rather difficult to find the right words and terms. However, it is possible and it is very important. Thus, the code should include such information as the necessity to compensate time the employees work beyond their shifts. This will eliminate any possible violations.
It is important to note that health and safety regulations are some of the most important. Nonetheless, they are almost left aside. The terms used are quite vague and can lead to numerous violations. Apart from emergency exits and some training, it is important to mention that employers should comply with local (and or international) standards concerning employees’ safety.
It is the employer’s responsibility to make the employees aware of such regulations. Of course, the employees should be able to work within the boundaries of these regulations. In other words, the employer should make sure that employees work in safe working places, with safe equipment and know what to do in case of any emergency.
Finally, ethical standards are covered with an emphasis on financial issues (i.e. it is mentioned that favours, bribes, etc. are unacceptable). However, this paragraph can also be extended. For instance, it is also important to mention that the partners are encouraged to inform Target about any cases when Target’s employers were involved in unethical or unlawful actions. This will improve discipline as all people involved will need to be responsible.
To sum up, it is necessary to note that Target’s code of conduct is the document which shapes employees’ as well as partners’ behaviour. The code ensures that partners follow basic principles of ethical conduct. These principles include such areas as employment practices and the workplace. The code also reveals possible penalties in case some regulations are violated.
The code also covers the ways of audit which is also very important. Apart from such comprehensiveness, the code contains some downsides. Thus, some terms are too vague which can lead to certain violations. Therefore, it is recommended that the code should be revised, i.e. more details should be included. This will ensure that all values and ethical principles of Target will be followed by the company’s employees as well as its partners.
Ethical sourcing code: procedural guidelines 2005. Web.
Thompson, S & Maginn, P 2012, Planning Australia: an overview of urban and regional planning, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.