Most of us probably don’t need a formal code to tell us what is or is not correct behavior in the workplace, just as most city managers probably don’t need a code of ethics to prescribe ethical behavior. I remember, however, being impressed by the ICMA Code of Ethics when I was a young city manager and recognizing how valuable it could be to me as I started my career. The ICMA code has been around since the 1920s; and, while it has been revised on occasion, it is not substantially different today than it was 80-plus years ago.
I am hopeful that a new City of Albany Code of Conduct developed by employees from every city department will be as useful to us as the ICMA code has been to me over the past 30 years. In reviewing the City’s new, draft code, it seems like a straightforward guide to appropriate behavior at work. I am sure the great majority of employees are already observing the proposed policy, but we have had incidents in the past that might have been prevented by the very clear expectations expressed in the new code.
I am particularly grateful to the employees who took the time to work together to develop the code. Jenn Williams, Rick Barnett, Jason Katzenstein, Danette DeSaulnier, Stephanie Warren, Staci Belcastro, Ashley Tucker, LaRee Dominguez, David Goeke, Hillary Kosmicki, Mary Dibble, and Kate Porsche took time from their regular duties to develop the policy. Department directors and supervisors will be presenting the code to their work groups, and anyone with concerns or suggestions for improvements is welcome to discuss them with supervisors and/or submit them to the Human Resources Department.
The formal purpose of the policy as developed by the Committee is:
To maintain a working environment where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and are free of discrimination and harassment.
Workplace harassment manifests itself in two primary ways:
- Violations of state and federal law (reference City of Albany Workplace Discriminatory Harassment Policy); and
- Behavior that may not violate law, but which violates this City policy because the behavior is not conducive to creating a work environment where all employees are treated with respect and dignity, which is addressed in this policy.
Respect is a word I believe we all understand and should be able to practice in our work relationships. Offensive humor, language, and gestures – usually at the expense of others – may have seemed acceptable when the older workers among us started our careers, but it is not acceptable now. Hazing new employees is another example of failing to practice respect. I rarely hear reports about these kinds of behaviors, and I don’t believe they are a common problem at the City. The standard, however, is not rarely; it’s never. I believe the Code of Conduct will help us achieve this standard, and I appreciate the efforts of everyone who practices respect and consideration every day.