Professional Ethics


My questions

  • Do you have one or more of Professional certifications?
  • Do you know or remember the Code of Ethics you ticked the box for?
  • Are you applying this Code to your everyday Professional dealings including private life?

For those who have personal certifications earned because we decide to be measured against by a peak certification body and through these bodies are permitted to place their mark at the end of our name; if you are one who may aspire to this or perhaps seek to engage Professionals, this is for you.

I found a recent recertification process an opportunity to reflect on what we are saying or agreeing to with these certification bodies when we do renew. Of course there is a monetary cost but what do they ask of us before we commence or continue being certified by them.

As I renewed a few of my certifications each, right at the end of the application process, had the obligatory tick box that said something like ‘I have read and agree to abide by the [add company name here] code of ethics/conduct’.

Do I really need to read this, it’s not like I read that verbose agreement when I update my Apple products or the Microsoft information that just goes on for pages in legal double speak. But I thought that, this is personal and the link is just there. I know I read it when I applied years ago, do I need to read it again. But I was ticking that I did read it, so I should and did.

On each a simple one page, dot form document with “Perform their work and duties with integrity, honesty and equity while adhering to legal principles”. I was hooked and continued to read then saved the pages. Another dot point of note “Respect the confidentiality of the information obtained in the course of their work and only reveal such information to others with the consent of the person(s) or organisation(s) or their legal representative(s)”.

I was right, this was personal, as this certification body was putting their faith in me to represent them through the post-nominal letters you get to use. It is their mark that says you have been measured and found suitable to represent them in your Professional dealings. A mark that client’s also use as an indicator of you, your integrity and your status as a Professional.

In my profession sorry Profession, we are to be Professional with our dealings with the information and knowledge we obtain whilst performing our trade. We are often entrusted with personal, trade in confidence and sometimes legally sensitive information that we could use for our own benefit or gain. Information that we agreed when signing up for these certifications to treat amongst others things, ethically and confidentially.

Unfortunately during business dealings with clients we are sometimes met with a singular or sets of documents/procedures, presentations including training information and even photographs from working with another company that you are aware were obtained as a result of another’s Professionals dealings with a different client/employer and now redrafted into a different format and represented as their own without permission of the document owner.

It is even worse when it is a person you know and believed to be a Professional. A Professional you know should have read that simple one page of Ethics/Conduct from the certification body they so proudly put after their name. Or maybe they forgot what they signed for or unfortunately knowingly disregard.

I have printed the Codes of Ethics I downloaded during my certification process and have them beside my table on the wall to remind me of what these certification bodies expect of me being a Professional representing them. (I have also highlighted a few of the key points on the documents.)

I noted that across the Codes there is a similarity of the traits required by type of person they call a Professional:

  • Integrity,
  • Honesty,
  • Objectivity,
  • Impartiality and
  • Confidentiality

So I ask again

  • Do you have one or more of Professional certifications?
  • Do you know or remember the Code of Ethics you ticked the box for?
  • Are you applying this Code to your everyday Professional dealings including private life?

There are those I believe should find the second two questions hard to answer ‘Yes’ to and that is unfortunate but doesn’t permit a disregard for the principles you agreed to, to retain your certification. Then if you actually read this far I would suggest that you have answered ‘Yes’ to these questions anyway.

So, be Professional.

Food for thought.


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