The Importance of Adhering to a Professional Code of Ethics
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The importance of adhering to a professional code of ethics.
The PMI developed a Code of Professional Conduct, reinforcing five tasks relating to professional responsibilities as mentioned by the PMBOK Guide (as cited by Kerzner, 2009, pp. 342 & 343). The Code of Professional Conduct highlights specifically two major categories of responsibilities: that to the profession and that to the customers and the public (Knapp, 2010, p. 188).
Codes of ethics establish generally the minimum acceptable standards in behaviors, conduct, and practice expected. Disregarding the differences related to various professions we may assume that all codes of ethics base principally on universally acceptable principles. Although there is not absolute academic acceptance and the universality is sometimes questioned due to differences in cultures and customs we can assume, particularly in business environments, that most of the ethical principles and values are universally accepted.
There are different reasons because professional codes of ethics are important and these are all interrelated and adding to the importance of adhering to them. Codes of ethics establish standards within a profession and, therefore, create also accountability. In fact, where there are standards, there the individual tend to self-evaluate its behavior compared to the expected or required conduct within the code of ethics. Well defined and accepted ethical rules for professional clarify the boundaries within which to act. Additionally, while setting the minimum that is acceptable and expected the codes push intrinsically but often also explicitly for higher practices and conducts. As a consequence, codes of ethics acquire worth and value while the general public and professionals perceive the code of ethics as more truly representing the reality. Altogether, the wide-spread adherence of professionals to a code of ethics distinguish the profession as honorable, reliable and faithful while all individuals abide to what the code of ethics establishes as good and right rather than only minimum acceptable.
Ethical codes may also be seen as establishing a set of responsibilities for the individual abiding to it. Four are the main elements in which the responsibilities are may categorized as shown in the following figure.
Elements of responsibility. Source: Heldman & Mangano, 2009, p. 295
We recognize easily commonly known characteristics like integrity, honesty, and professionalism. However, within the responsibilities there are not only rules and guidelines for the professional demeanor as but also clearly stated obligations implying proactive actions. This is the case of reporting and handling ethics violations. These rules clearly add to accountability of the whole professional category and, consequently, to the value and reliability of