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Code Of Conduct
Marlene Dau, Educational Chair of MAHC

Does your Cooperative Board of Directors have a Code of Ethics?  Has every Board Member signed it?
Maybe with a new year, it should be a topic on your agenda to just review it again at a Board meeting so everyone starts out with a clear perspective.

DEFINITION:  CODE OF ETHICS…Professional groups including Cooperative Board of Directors not governed or enforced by government, but rather by business practices outlined by a respected entity within an industry or profession.  A Code of Ethics sets the standard of conduct for individuals working within a profession.

Do you need a Checklist for ethical conduct?  When something comes up that tests everyone’s ethics maybe the checklist below will help you walk through the problem at hand.  

  1. Is it Legal? The first and most obvious question, is to ask yourself whether the contemplated act is legal? Will the decision violate any laws that are enforced by a government agency?  (Although the question appears to be straightforward on the surface, it can become blurred in cases where the law may not be clearly defined.)  What if, like speeding on the highway, everybody is doing it?

  2. Who is affected and how?  The question suggests that if the decision or act does harm to an individual or group of individuals, it may not be ethical.  However this may not always be true.  Example:  The case where a judge is required by law to impose the death penalty to a convicted criminal.  Clearly the imposition of the death penalty does harm to the criminal.  But would that render the judge’s decision unethical?  Clearly not, because the decision is justified by the law.

  3. What are the long term consequences?  Ethical decisions and actions often have a long-range perspective.  Unethical behavior is often short term, designed to survive the crisis or need of the day.  Embezzlement, for example, it will help you get what you want today, but what about next year when the auditor begins to examine the financial records?

  4. Does it comply with my professional code?  Just as one must question whether a decision complies with the laws enforced by government, one must also ask whether a decision complies with the professional codes of one’s profession.  In other words, if full disclosure were made about the decision or act, consider what decision others would make in similar circumstances.
  5. How will it make you feel?  This question is perhaps the most critical of all because it reflects directly upon the person whose advice counts the most, the person you face in the mirror every day.  Would you want your friends and family to know?  Could your decision be published?


Marlene Dau is the President of Tailor Made Property Services, Inc. as well as the Educational Chair of MAHC.