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T’s viewed as a charming practice from days gone by, but a code of conduct is an idea whose time has come again. For a historic model, look at the chivalric code of King Arthur’s day, which explicitly spelled out a knight’s duties to king, country, God, and the downtrodden. Businesses could surely use that clarity again. And, like it or not, companies are going to have to come up with codes to live and work by, if recent proposals by the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq come to pass. The idea: If corporations want to joust on the stock market, they’ll need to state their ethical and legal principles, and they’ll have to ensure that employees abide by them, too. But creating a new code is a time-consuming and costly endeavor. So let’s adapt something old. It might be a few hundred years later, but truth, loyalty, and giving the job your all are medieval values that still have a home in 2002. Here-with only a few post-Enron/WorldCom/Tyco modifications to the original (adapted from Leon Gautier’s Chivalry)-is a modern corporate code. Additions to the original chivalric code are underlined; deleted words are redacted. 1. Thou shalt believe all that the Church Company teaches and shalt obey all her commandments, except when commanded to destroy documents that are the subject of a pending SEC investigation. 2. Thou shalt defend the Church Company and shall not seek immunity in order to testify against it. 3. Thou shalt respect all thy C-level executives’ weaknesses and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them. 4. Thou shalt love the country into which thou wast born, unless it is outside of the United States and has engaged in unfair trade practices that make it difficult for the Company to compete in export markets. 5. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy competitor, government regulators, or business news reporters. 6. Thou shalt make war against infidels the newest entrant in the market without cessation and without mercy, keeping in mind the pertinent provisions of U.S. and E.C. antitrust law. 7. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal corporate duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God the U.S. or any state or foreign country in which the Company does business. 8. Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word, at least when that word has been given under oath or recorded in e-mail or voicemail messages, all copies of which cannot be readily and irretrievably destroyed. 9. Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone, to the extent allowed by federal and state campaign contribution laws, antibribery and antikickback laws, and Company conflict-of-interest policies. 10. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Company’s ideas of Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil. Freelance writer David J. Simon is an attorney and the president of compliance training provider WeComply, Inc.

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