Keep in mind that a Code of Conduct is limited; it usually refers only to the most common and expected behaviors staff/volunteers may encounter each day. One of the ways to guide staff and volunteers in their response to situations and behaviors not covered by your Code of Conduct is through developing a Mission Statement and Code of Ethics.
Whether your YSO is large or small, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a “Mission Statement”—a short, foundational statement designed to capture the reasons why you exist, and what you hope to accomplish. A Mission Statement should motivate and inspire your staff and leadership toward the “higher goals” of your YSO, and can also help guide the day-to-day activities of your organization.
A Code of Ethics is a close cousin of the Mission Statement. It expands upon your Mission Statement by describing your YSO’s “character” more fully and expressing a set of ethical standards for everyone to follow. Your Code of Ethics can be very broad, describing your vision and guiding principles, what you aspire to accomplish, and how children and youth will benefit from your efforts. It should also reflect a commitment to child/youth safety.
Depending on your size and available resources, you may have only a Mission Statement or a Code of Ethics, or even a combined document. There are no strict rules, but each can be used to help guide the decision-making of your staff and volunteers in their day-to-day interactions with coworkers, children, and youth—especially in any unique or unexpected situations that lack clear direction.
EXAMPLES OF ORGANIZATIONAL MISSION STATEMENTS AND ETHICS STATEMENts 1
- Girl Scouts of America: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America: To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
- Prevent Child Abuse America: To prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children
Smaller, more locally affiliated organizations can also develop mission statements. An example of the mission statement of a small, privately owned business (a dance studio) reads:
- Academy DMT 2 : At the Academy of Dance, Music & Theatre we are dedicated to providing the tools necessary for children to grow, learn, and succeed through a love of the arts.
Goals in Support of Mission Statements:
Immediately following its Mission Statement, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (above) provides a set of statements about what it intends to provide to the children it serves in order to attain the goal its Mission Statement outlines:
- A Boys & Girls Club Provides:
- A safe place to learn and grow;
- Ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals;
- Life-enhancing programs and character development experiences;
- Hope and opportunity
The dance academy also combines its Mission Statement with a set of similar goals:
- We offer respect and a high-quality education for all of our students:
- Teachers work hard to challenge and support students to achieve their best.
- Every staff member will demonstrate the highest standards of professionalism.
- We communicate with parents about their child’s progress
- We are committed to offering diverse and inspiring programs
Ethical Principles that organizations may wish to reflect within a Code of Conduct:
- Dignity is the right of all those subject to the Code. Respect for one’s colleagues and for the children served by the YSO supports that right.
- Equal treatment for all, including equal opportunity, and support for diversity.
- Those subject to the Code must not allow themselves to be placed under any circumstance that would inappropriately influence the performance of their duties with respect to the safety of the children/youth under their care. The safety of the children/youth in our care is a primary responsibility.
- Recognition of Excellence
- Encourages effort and innovation
- All are accountable for their decisions and actions and must voluntarily submit to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
- The organization is accountable to its staff and clients for the tools, training, and guidance needed to perform their duties.
- Decisions must be made in an open, transparent manner. Information about the safety of children/youth should never be withheld under any circumstances.
- All who are subject to the Code must be truthful
1 50 example mission statements: (https://topnonprofits.com/examples/nonprofit-mission-statements/)
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