Evaluation of a business code of ethics

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Ethical behavior from employees is the foundation for a successful business. Trevino and Nelson define ethical behavior as being, "consistent with the principles, norms, and standards of business practice that have been agreed upon by society (2007, p. 16, para. 1). A code of ethics is an example of the way a company would have employees act; an instruction manual for ethical behavior. Simply possessing a code of ethics does not guarantee ethical behavior from employees.

Therefore, a code of ethics must outline consequences for violations. Employers must enforce the code as well. A code of ethics ensures that, if followed, employees will work diligently with integrity and expertise, safeguard confidential information, and do so in a professional manner.

Implementing and maintaining a code of conduct and ethics creates stakeholder confidence in a multinational financial services company. MetLife is one of the largest financial services companies in the world as well as the number one life insurance company in the United States; providing services worldwide in the following areas: investments, financial planning, banking, and insurance. MetLife was formed as a mutual insurance company in 1864 in the wake of the American Civil War.

The company would insure Civil War veterans against disabilities because of wartime injuries and sickness. After a rough start in the first four years and several reorganizations, the company started to focus primarily on the life insurance industry; a move that would establish MetLife as one of the largest companies in the United States. Over the span of 143 years MetLife grew significantly through acquisitions and continuing to provide superior service and support to clients.

Most recently MetLife acquired American Life Insurance Company (ALICO), and provides people financial services, life insurance, health insurance, and investments, in the following counties: Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and Pakistan. This acquisition has given MetLife a dominant spot in the global financial services market making MetLife the largest insurance company in the world. With more than 50,000 employees worldwide, management accentuates an ethical corporate culture with a compliance department that goes above any state or federal regulations with strict compliance monitoring.

Management also creates a positive working environment free of harassment in any form and develops employees with goals of creating professional relationships that last a lifetime as well as achieving high levels of sales and pay. In addition to MetLife's code of ethics all officers, managers, and employees are must follow and obey all applicable states and federal laws, company policies, and industry regulations where they hold a license to avoid any perception of impropriety. MetLife's Chief Executive Officer Robert Henrickson states, "For 140 years, MetLife has helped individuals and institutions build and protect their most valuable assets" (MetLife, 2005, p. 2).

In accordance with this reputation, MetLife has a code of ethics in place to support these efforts with the core values integrity and honesty as the foundation of the ethical culture within the company. These core values are vital to the company achieving the MetLife vision; to build financial freedom for everyone. The code of ethics at MetLife is a voluntary code of conduct that emphasizes a duty-based ethical system.

The foundation for the code is broad and encompasses the following corporate values: integrity, expertise, suitability, full disclosure, fair competition, service, brand, confidentiality, professionalism, and reputation. However, a code of ethics does not guarantee ethical behavior. Managers enforce the code of ethics with employees as well as administer legal or disciplinary action that results from a deviation from the code of ethics.

In the financial services industry deviations from compliance may result in a producer and manager...
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