The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners unanimously adopted a Code of Ethics for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Monday, January 8th.

The Code of Ethics, which is a first for LAWA and a first for any City of Los Angeles department, was adopted in an effort to further enhance an ethical culture, airport officials said.

Los Angeles World Airports is the city agency that operates Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and three other Southern California airports.

“This is a great example of a city agency taking ethics seriously and putting words into action,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has issued directives to all city departments related to the importance of ethics in government.

“Earning the public trust through honesty and integrity is critical to city government and I believe the adoption of this Code of Ethics is a wonderful road map to help guide LAWA through its daily decision-making to help fulfill that trust.”

Following Villaraigosa’s lead, the airport commissioners adopted a resolution in October 2005 to create an Office of Ethics and Business Conduct to establish new ethical standards for the city’s airports department and to provide a confidential means to report suspected misconduct without fear of retaliation, airport officials said.

The board followed with the adoption of a set of values to help guide the development of a Code of Ethics.

“We want to be clear that this Code of Ethics directly applies to everyone throughout the organization, including commissioners, and that we are committed to and supportive of sustaining an ethical culture,” Commission President Alan Rothenberg said.

“We believe such a culture is truly the cornerstone of a healthy, productive and thriving organization.”

Walter Zifkin, chairman of the Board of Airport Commissioners Audit and Ethics Committee, said, “As stewards of the public trust, we are working to nurture an environment in which we hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct and where ethical considerations are a part of everything we do at Los Angeles World Airports.”

The Code of Ethics was developed by a working group of LAWA employees, in consultation with the mayor’s ethics advisor and the City Ethics Commission staff.

The goal of the working group — which was comprised of employees representing LAWA’s diverse functions and job classifications at all four airports — was to develop a code that was values-based rather than rules-based, meaning that commissioners and employees should aspire to more than just the compliance and legality of an issue, airport officials said.

The code includes expressions of LAWA’s values and 12 provisions that represent key principles, functions and responsibilities that are necessary to create and maintain a professional and ethical workplace to ensure accountability to the public.

Airport officials said commissioners and LAWA’s more than 3,300 employees will receive and further learn about LAWA’s values and code through a unique, interactive ethics training session this winter.