Each company establishes a code of conduct that provides ground rules for the ethical conduct in the organization (Trevino & Nelson, 2007). Progressive outlines responsibilities to current employees, former employees, customers, investors, agents or other business associates, and communities (Progressive, 2012, pg. 2). This paper will outline the foundation for Progressive’s Code of Conduct, how the code is used by managers and employees in decision-making, how the code is used by managers and employees in problem solving, and the behavior in the business setting. The paper will also provide how I would implement the code, possible reactions to the code from employees, and the effect the code would have on the organization. Progressive’s Code of Conduct
Progressive’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics details the set of behavioral standards for Progressive’s people. The code states what Progressive expects from themselves and each other. It also confirms the commitment to act in accordance with all applicable laws. Progressive’s code also describes how the company will interact with customers, agents, regulators, co-workers, and others. Progressive uses the core values of the organization to serve as the foundation for the code. Progressive’s core values include: integrity, golden rule, objectives, excellence, and profit. The order of the core values are relevant because they are in order of importance. The code and core values are intended to provide general guidance for most situations. All employees, executive officers, and directors are required to show confirmation that they are aware of the responsibility to adhere to the code (Progressive, 2012, pg. 5).
Decision-Making for Managers and Employees
Progressive’s managers and employees have to make choices about how to treat customers, sell policies, settle claims, work with each other, and conduct business operations. The choices that are made can be used to measure the company’s success and shape the company’s reputation. Managers and employees sometimes encounter situations in which the right decision is not always clear. In situations like that, managers or employees should consult the Ethical Decision-Making Guide (Progressive, 2012, pg. 9). The manager or employee should first ask if the situation is legal. If the situation is no legal, they should not do it. If they are unsure if it is legal, they should take to the corporate legal department. If the manager or employee knows the decision is legal, they should then ask themselves if the decision will comply with Progressive’s policies and code of conduct. If the decision does not comply with Progressive’s policies and code of conduct, the manager or employee should not do it. If the manager or employee is unsure about the compliance with the policies and code of conduct, they should talk to human resources, corporate legal, or compliance and ethics.
If the decision does comply with Progressive’s policies and code of conduct, the manager or employee should then ask themselves if the decision will reflect the core values and does it feel like the right thing to do. If the answer to the questions are no, they manager or employee should not do it. If they are unsure, they should ask themselves the following questions: Who will my decision affect and how? How would I feel if I were on the other end of my decision? Would I feel proud to share my decision with my family and the public? Will my decision work as a consistent practice in all similar situations? After answering the series of questions and they are still unsure; they should consult with others. The manager or employee could consult with other managers, human resources, corporate legal, compliance and ethics officers, or anyone else in senior management. If the manager or employee can answer yes to the last question, everything is good to go with the decision (Progressive, 2012, pg. 10). Problem Solving for Managers and Employees
Along with making decision, managers and employees are also faced with solving problems that may arise. Problems may come about dealing with possible code violations and potential misconduct. When problems arise, the employee or manager is expected to speak up about the situation. Reporting problems will allow the organization to address issues in a prompt manner and remedy the problem more quickly. When problems do arise, speaking up is not an option. It is mandatory.
Everyone must speak up so the proper sources can become aware of the concerns. To report concerns with problems one can contact any human resource representative, any business leader, the compliance and ethics officer, the chief legal officer, the chief financial officer, of the chief executive officer. Employees and managers may also voice their concerns with problems through Progressive’s toll-free alert line at 1-800-683-3604 or online at progressivealerthotline.com. If there are problems regarding financial or accounting fraud, internal accounting controls, or auditing matters, one can file a report directly to the chairperson of the audit committee of the board of directors (Progressive, 2012, pg. 11). Progressive also has a commitment to non-retaliation for any problems or concerns that are reported (Progressive, 2012, pg. 12).
Progressive’s Business Setting Behavior
Progressive embraces both diversity and inclusion in the business setting. Everyone is expected to accept each other’s differences, value alternative ways of thinking, and encourage the free and open exchange of ideas. Progressive is committed to equal employment opportunities and non-discrimination. Progressive’s business setting is free from any discrimination based on age, race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other factor not related to Progressive’s legitimate business interests (Progressive, 2012, pg. 16). Progressive has a harassment-free work environment (Progressive, 2012, pg. 17). According to Progressive (2012), “Harassment of any person is prohibited under this code and will not be tolerated. There are no exceptions” (Harassment-Free Work Environment). Progressive is also committed to providing a healthy and safe work environment for all employees, customers, agents, suppliers, and guests.
Weapons and workplace violence is not tolerated either. Employees are not allowed to bring any weapons or ammunition into any facilities, company vehicles, or on any of the company premises. This includes any firearms, knives, explosives, or other unlawful devices. Precautionary personal items, such as mace, are allowed (Progressive, 2012, pg. 18). Progressive provides a business setting that is free of hazards associated with substance abuse (Progressive, 2012, pg. 19). According to Progressive (2012), “The use, possession, sale, purchase, solicitation, distribution or being under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drug is prohibited during working time (including meal times) and at any time on Progressive premises or inside a Progressive-supplied vehicle (including an IRV and any company-owned, company leased or company-rented vehicle)” (Alcohol and Illegal Drugs). How I Would Implement the Code
Different organizations will have different ways of implementing their code of conduct. I would have the code broken down for specific departments in writing. Each department will know what they are responsible for as a unit, and they will know their responsibilities to other departments. I would make sure the information in the code gets to the point, without having any gray areas for the employee. Each employee will be required to read the code and sign acknowledging they adhere to the responsibilities set forth in writing. I would also outline any disciplinary actions that would be necessary if an employee were not to follow the guidelines in the code of conduct.
The consequences would range from verbal warnings to termination, depending on the severity of the issue. After the code is first implemented, there will be updates to the code to stay abreast of any changes in business operations. There may also be changes to the code if certain things are not working well that required of the employees. The employee will be required to attend a refresher training or course on the code of conduct annually to ensure everyone is up-to-date and in compliance. All requirements will be necessary to avoid disciplinary actions. I also feel that it is important for not only managers to lead by example, but everyone should lead by example. No one is exempt from the code on conduct. Possible Reactions to the Code from Employees
Each employee may react to the code of conduct differently. One person may embrace the code of conduct and live by it everyday. Others may rebel against everything in the code and go against the organization. Each employee will exhibit their likes and dislikes about the code of conduct. For those that think negative about aspects in the code of conduct, they may complain all the time. The negative employees may try to get others to see their point-of-view. Someone may feel the need to carry a gun in the vehicle at all times for protection when they are away from home. Employees that feel this way will have a negative reaction towards a company’s no weapons policy. The employee will attempt to bring their gun on the premises in their vehicle, with hopes of not getting caught.
From past experiences, some employers have decided to make the working premises a smoke-free area. This area includes smoking in your vehicle, since the vehicle is on the employer’s premises. Employees with negative reactions toward the no smoking policy will try to smoke in their car anyway or go behind the building without being seen. Although there are employees with negative reactions toward the company’s code of conduct, some employees feel the necessity of having the code of conduct in place. Positive employees will promote the guidelines in the code of conduct and find ways to improve the organization for the better. The positive employees will recruit current employees and potential employees for the organization. The Effect of the Code on the Organization
In my opinion, the effect of the code on the organization are directly related to the employees and other stakeholders of the organization. The negative employees will cause a negative effect of the code on the organization. Employees that are reluctant to follow the code of conduct will create a bad image for the organization. Customers, the community, investors, and business partners will see the negative image and not want any dealings with the organization. On the other hand, the positive employees will contribute to the success and advancement of the organization. If shareholders are treated with respect, honesty, and integrity, they will want to continue to do business with an organization that possess those characteristics. The code of conduct is to help the organization with issues and concerns that can arise with decision-making and problem solving. Conclusion
A company’s code of conduct provides the ground rules regarding ethical conduct. Progressive outlines ground rules regarding current employees, former employees, customers, investors, agents, other business associates, and communities (Progressive, 2012, pg. 2). Progressive uses its core values as the foundation for the code of conduct. The core values include: integrity, golden rule, objectives, excellence, and profit (Progressive, 2012, pg.5). Progressive’s managers and employees have to make decision about how to treat customers, sell policies, settle claims, work with one another, and conduct business operations. The managers and employees utilize the Ethical Decision-Making Guide when they encounter situations that do not present a clear decision (Progressive, 2012, pg. 9). The managers and employees are also faced with different ways to solve problems regarding code violations and potential misconduct. Speaking up is required by the organization’s code of conduct. Concerns can be reported to a human resource representative, any business leader, the chief legal officer, the chief financial officer, or the chief executive officer.
Employees can voice their concerns via the hotline or online (Progressive, 2012, pg.11). Progressive embraces a diverse and inclusive business setting for the employees. The employees are able to enjoy an equal employment opportunity environment without discrimination, harassment, weapons, workplace violence, or substance abuse. Different organizations will implement their code of conduct in different ways. I would implement the code in writing for each department. Each employee is required to sign to acknowledge they understand what is expected of them, and they are also required to take an annual refresher course. Disciplanry actions for any violations can range from verbal warnings to termination. Each employee will have a different reaction to the code. Some will live by the code, while others will do everything in their power to rebel against the code of conduct. The effect the code has on the organization is directly related to the employees reaction, in my opinion. The negative employee will reaction will correlate with the negative effect of the code on the organization. The positive employee reaction will correlate with the positive effect of the code on the organization.
Progressive. (2012). Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. Retrieved from http://investors.progressive.com/code.aspx Trevino, L.K., & Nelson, K.A. (2007). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (4th ed.). Retrieved from www.ecampus.phoenix.edu