Tools & Resources Writing a Code of Ethics and Social Corporate Responsibility at ASDIR

Writing a Code of Ethics and Social Corporate Responsibility at ASDIR

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ASDIR, a Guatemalan NGO, learned from its Smart Assessment that while staff practices adhered to the standards, they needed to document those practices for more uniformity and risk mitigation, namely through a Code of Ethics and Social Corporate Responsibility.

ASDIRSmart Assessments measure adherence to the Client Protection Principles through examining practices by talking to staff and triangulating that evidence with an institution’s policies. ASDIR, a Guatemalan NGO, learned from its Smart Assessment that while staff practices adhered to the standards, they needed to document those practices for more uniformity and risk mitigation, namely through a Code of Ethics and Social Corporate Responsibility. The management believed that the code is a way to formalize processes at the institution as a legacy for the organization to solidify the organizational mission not only looking at present practice but also the institution’s future. The CEO and the Board of Directors empowered ASDIR’s Human Resources manager and the Social Corporate Responsibility Manager to work together and come up with a text acceptable to the organization and its staff.

The Managers jointly researched code of ethics from other microfinance organizations and networks using the resources made available by the Smart Campaign (click here for access to more than 30 different codes from organizations around the world). It took them approximately one month to come up with a joint draft that focused on a number of important client protection issues including: 

  • Guidelines for managers and the board of directors. 
  • Articles on the institution responsibility to competitors, the community, and clients. 
  • Professional conduct guidelines. 
  • Practical aspects on institutional values.
  • Non-discrimination.
  • Confidentiality of client data. 

The draft code was presented to ASDIR’s branch managers in order to get feedback and buy-in to the new policies that put on paper much of what the institution already practiced. When interviewed, branch managers in Pologua and Totonicapán (provinces of western Guatemala) believed that the code gave more clarity in areas, such as acceptable and unacceptable sta” conduct that were previously unclear. These branch managers believed the code would help them “orient clients to their true north” and “become more effective managers to their staff. ASDIR has begun to publish key aspects of the code inside its branches to raise clent awareness about their rights. Additionally the posters also provide information to clients about their right to lodge a complaint or suggestion

This story was originally published in the Smart Campaign State of Practice Report Study of Client Protection in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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