Kapu Aloha: A Code of Ethics and Principles

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Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-LargeWith so much in the news about Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics, here is a brief discussion for thought…

A code of ethics and code of conduct are two separate documents, the first of which addresses and teaches employees how to use those standards in their day-to-day workplace action.

A code of ethics is a business document outlining professional standards expected of all company workers and representatives. Although it often addresses internal conduct, it primarily centers on what is expected of employees when engaged in customer-centric activities. It establishes standards by which business representatives are held accountable.

Every business should have a workable code of ethics to adhere to that helps in the daily life of that business. A code of ethics outlines acceptable behavior expected from employees—whether it is in relationship to each other or in their relationships with others.

A code of ethics should spell out what is expected of employees clearly, so that there is no question as to the organization or business’ reputation. Learn how to create a code of ethics for your workplace.

Advocacy as a Code of Conduct…

Some advocacy groups and coalitions have developed codes of conduct that essentially enact their sustained attack on a corporation or government entity that employ a wide range of tactics trying to force more socially responsible behavior. They are a primary means of mobilizing activists for coordinated warfare against the targeted organization or corporation. The organizers of an advocacy campaign is to pressure by depicting it to its stakeholders as engaging in antisocial behavior to make a profit while presenting themselves as “kū kiaʻi” protectors or crusaders for the public interest sometimes cultural, sometimes historical, sometimes traditional.

When activists attack corporations, there is a huge imbalance of power. A large corporation has enormous financial resources, strong influence in government bodies, and frequently a trusted ‘brand’ name. Activists have little financing, slight political influence, and low public recognition.

However, they have one key source of strength: the tendency of the public to perceive an environmental, religious, or indigenous rights group as selfless and out to do something in the interest for ALL, and…to do what is right. Using this perception, activists seize the ethical high ground and engage the corporation with an assault that might be likened to a kind of warfare because the action sometimes stretches or breaks the bonds of civil society.

For example, a few years ago, there were more than 600 demonstrations outside Home Depot outlets. Inside, activists prowled the aisles and put stickers on products made from old-growth wood for over two years. The pressure which escalated over two years, led Home Depot to announce that they would no longer purchase wood that was Not Certified. (Business, Government, and Society, Page 104, McGraw-Hill, 2000)

The Advocacy group was composed of thinkers who illuminated the social costs of industrialization, expressing their concern with the PEN rather than the Sword of Activism.

They believe in Protection of human rights, cultural and traditional rights, the restraint of corporate power, and the solution of social problems through government action!

As with Kapu Aloha, we ask Ke Akua for guidance as we seize the ethical higher ground!

Mele Kalikimaka and a Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou!!!

A hui hou,

Trustee Leinaʻala