WOMMA CEO Andy Sernovitz is up to more of his tricks (jeesh, does this guy know how to create buzz) but this time* I think he’s got it spot on.

“Smart companies like Dell know that ethics isn’t optional – it’s the first priority in the consumer-generated environment,” said Andy Sernovitz.
– from a Dell press release (Nov. 9, 2006)

Andy has gotten two top execs at Dell to publicly announce that the company – a relatively new player in the Fortune 500 corner of the blogosphere – is incorporating WOMMA’s Ethics Adoption Toolkit into its blog policy. The principal ingredients of the Ethics Toolkit are:

– transparency of origin

– accuracy

– ethical conduct

– protection of confidential information

– enforcement and discipline

The ethics guidelines apply to internal (employee) and external (customer) communications via blogs and other social media tools. As well as to third party vendors (i.e. PR firms and agencies that big companies are hiring).

The latter is an interesting reminder that ultimately a company is responsible for the actions of its vendors (think Wal-Mart and Edelman).

Download Dell’s Blog Policy (dated Nov. 9, 2006)

Is WOMMA the right group to sanction Edelman for violation of a social media ethics code?

* It’s another question whether WOMMA is the right entity to call Edelman on the carpet (WOMMA has announced that Edelman’s membership has been suspended for 90 days) for the PR firm’s mishandling of the fake Wal-Marting Across America blog. My first response to this was, er, this is preposterous. Why should Edelman care what WOMMA thinks or does?

Here’s one of the corrective actions in WOMMA’s announcement: “Provide a briefing to the WOMMA Executive Committee to fully explain the details of the incident.”

Let’s get real here – how likely is it that Edelman will comply with this request??

BTW, I’ve just done a Google search and (unless I’ve missed it) I can’t find Edelman’s reaction to being suspended from membership in WOMMA.

My second reaction is… well someone needs to step up to the plate and insist on a code of ethics surrounding corporate use of blogs and social media. WOMMA is trying hard. Maybe it’s the right group.

Useful Links

20 questions toward ethical word of mouth (Jackie Huba)

WOMMA’s Ethics Program