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Copyright (c) 2003 The Journal of the Legal Profession
The Journal of the Legal Profession

STUDENT COMMENTARY: CHANGING CORPORATE ETHICS CODES AFTER ENRON AND How TO KNOW IF THE CHANGES PROVED USEFUL?

2003 / 2004

28 J. Legal Prof. 259

Author

Leah Wilson

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

In the wake of Enron's collapse, ethics policies in corporations have become a topic of many discussions. A few years ago most people were not even aware of the existence of corporate ethics policies. Today, these policies are receiving a great deal of attention and many are being changed as companies re-examine their ethics policies. 1 As companies begin to make changes in their ethics policies they look to many sources in developing the right policy, including other corporations, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act ("Act") passed by Congress concerning requirements in such policies, SEC requirements, and other sources.

II. CORPORATE ETHICS CODES

Effective corporate codes seem to have several common qualities. 2 The first of these is that they are organic, meaning that they "are rooted in the strategic vision of an organization and the business philosophy of its leaders and stakeholders." 3 In other words, corporations create an ethics policy to fulfill the specific needs inside the company rather than just generic considerations for ethical behavior. Thus, it is important, when a company generates a new ethics code or improves an already existing code, it should ensure that the ethics code fits the business for which it is developed and encourages policies which in turn help create business for the company.

Second, most of these policies are based on values rather than general statements concerning the ethical standard expected from employees. 4 Many corporations have a tendency to have a rulebook with employer expectations in it without any sort ...
 
 
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