While having a code of ethics may feel like a mandatory standard for associations, you’ll find many associations still lack a clear official statement on where they stand ethically. Having a strong code of ethics will allow for you to do two things for your members: Define acceptable behaviors to allow for self-evaluation and promote a high standard of integrity about your association.

Realistically, your code of ethics will vary pretty drastically from industry to industry. However, we’ve come up with four categories to include in your code of ethics that should cover the basic topics for any association. Check them out below!

1. Accountability – One of the key sections of your code of ethics should be about the importance of following accountable personal behavior. While you should not try to loom “consequences” over your member, this category should instead show that there needs to be some clear standards for your members to follow. Some examples could consist of avoiding purposeful misrepresentation on purpose or sharing copyrighted materials without permission.

2. Continuing Education – While not mandatory, this section of your code of ethics should encourage the importance of lifelong learning from your members. This education can vary from taking classes on a personal level or teaching to those inside/outside your industry. Your association is like a village and by motivating your members to continue to gain more skill sets, you’re ultimately creating a win-win situation.

3. Inclusion and Diversity – Now more than ever, it’s important to show your association is inclusive of all cultures, religions, political views, and geography. By including this category, you are reinforcing that diversity is the lifeblood of what makes your association dynamic and unified. Having this section will enforce to your members that you are dedicated to their growth, no matter their background.

4. Conflict of Interests – Often forgotten, clearly stating that your members should avoid a conflict of interest between your association and another organization is a must. Overall, this category is a friendly reminder that, as a member, you should not put yourself in a situation where something personal or financial could influence you to make a judgement call when it comes to your association.

Simply speaking, your code of ethics should be a basic guide for your members on what is and is not tolerable for your association. It’s important to tailor your code of ethics to your industry as you will having varying types of risk and ultimately, you’ll want to make sure to cover any issues across the board.

Trying to think of other topics to introduce to new members? Onboarding new members is an essential, yet often overlooked, part of the association management process. That’s why it’s so important to engage with them upfront. Check out our 6 Tips to Successfully Onboard New Members in your association for more information!