Oral Histories

Ron Rhody

Interview Segments on Topic: Code of Ethics/Mission Statement/Credo

Ron Rhody Biography

Ron Rhody's long career in public relations includes serving as executive vice president and director-corporate communications and external affairs at BankAmerica and corporate vice president and director of public relations and advertising for Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. 

He became CEO of his own Consultancy and is the author of “The CEO’s Playbook” and “Wordsmithing: The Art and Craft of Writing for Public Relations.”  He has worked with and advised CEOs and senior executives in the business, academic and not-for-profit sectors on a variety of communication and public relations issues.  He has received numerous awards and honors from professional groups and organizations.


Interviewer: Well during this time was there a mission statement or code of ethics anything that was pulled out and put on the table to help to guide corporations

Ron Rhody:No there was no mission statement and no code of ethics except that code of ethics that everybody in the company understood. And everybody understood it. And it was pretty simple. As a matter of fact, if I can digress a little bit. I don’t know exactly the year was. At the time I was working for Tom Plaussen who was the CEO of Bank of America and he previously had been the CEO at the World Bank. There was another one of those periods where there was a lot of discussion about corporate ethics. And the very very popular thing to do was to hire experts to come in and do seminars for your people on corporate ethics. And of course we did that because everybody was doing that. He said that all we were really concerned about. He said what I want our people to do is to be sensitive to and follow the cadet’s code. The cadet’s code as Tom phrased it and I'm sure it's true and I'm not sure it's either The Citadel’s code or the US Navel Academy I am not sure but the cadet’s code is a cadet does not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate people who do. And Tom says that’s our code of ethics. And that’s what I want people to want. Mission statements are a good idea but I think is they are effective only to the extent that the ethic or the idea is imbedded in the culture or the company. Otherwise its’ just words just words that give people a warm feeling. But of no particular consequence. The only time that mission statements make a difference in managerial performance is when the elements of the mission statement are built in the performance reviews of the line managers. If that’s the case people are being judged on how they perform against our standards then they perform.