Thursday, June 11, 2009

Business Conduct Guidelines

IBM was my first employer out of University. Before starting work I had to sign to agree to work in accordance with the company's Business Conduct Guidelines, a short document laying out compliance with laws and good ethics, and ensuring that the company's relationships are built on trust.

Each year of my employment I had to sign to confirm my continued compliance; and I saw colleagues, even very senior ones, lose their job if they broke the guidelines because IBM takes these things seriously. For example, Business Conduct Guidelines says that IBM staff will not sell by 'disparaging the competition.' You won't see IBM running 'attack ads' so widely practiced by other companies.

My colleagues are now taking IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines as a starting point to draft our own document: it may cost us more, and in the short-term it's a big investment for us to task such a senior member of the team with this as a priority, but we believe that doing business right is vital to our ethical success.