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Ethical practice in project management

Elissa Farrow
July 22, 2013

I was talking with a colleague the other day about how ethical practice is something not often discussed as part of our day-to-day business practice.

One of the roles I play along with running a successful consulting and training business is as the Director of Ethics for the International Institute for Project Coaching (IIPC). So therefore I am a champion for raising the profile of ethical practice in our change initiatives.

The IIPC is an industry body, formed to support a global community of professional and like-minded project coaches and consultants. The IIPC is dedicated to building project coaching as a profession. Successful project coaches like change managers, business analysts and other implementation specialists need to factor in a review of their performance based on not just delivery performance but ethical practice.

According to the online Oxford English Dictionary, ethics are ‘moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity’. Codes of ethics have been around professional associations for some time. They set the philosophical foundation for practice and are much more obvious in helping professionals such as medical or psychological streams where the care of the individual is of a paramount concern.

Typical codes such as the IIPC’s, which I drew from for the summary below, include concepts such as:

  • I will comply with all legislation requirements that govern workplace health and safety practices.
  • I will recognise and respect the rights of individuals.
  • I will respect the culture of those I work with and the environment I am working within.
  • I will maintain, store, and dispose of any records created during my practice in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security, and privacy, and complies with any applicable laws and agreements.
  • I will maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality with all client and sponsor information.
  • I will have a clear agreement from any client before releasing information to another person, unless required by law.
  • I will not knowingly make any public statement that is non-factual or misleading about my services, or make false claims in any written documents relating to the profession.
  • I will act with care and due diligence in providing guidance.
  • I will give due recognition to any information, model or for which is not my own, adhering to all copyright and intellectual property protections.
  • I will, at all times, strive to recognise personal issues that may impair, conflict, or interfere with my project coaching performance or my professional relationships. Whenever the facts and circumstances necessitate, I will promptly suspend or terminate my professional relationship(s) until that impairment, conflict or interference is resolved.
  • I will work within the bounds of the code of ethics/conduct for any organisation I work within.
  • I will have clear agreements or contracts with my clients and sponsor(s). I will honour all agreements or contracts made in the context of professional relationships.

When was the last time you reflected on ethical practice? How do you see ethical practice influencing your thinking of your change or project approach? Consider reviewing your organisational or professional associations ethical standard or code, if you can’t find one look at the IIPC’s on Do a self-check to see how you are practising, and discuss ethics with a colleague like I did.

Elissa Farrow
Elissa is a founder and lead consultant for About Your Transition and has extensive experience in strategic organisational adaptation design, facilitation and delivery. Elissa has supported organisations to define positive futures and then successfully transform to bring lasting benefits. She has proven adaptative capacity and can successfully transfer her skills to different contexts. In 2018, Elissa commenced her doctoral studies through the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her published research is exploring organisational adaptation to the evolving field of artificial intelligence using qualitative and participatory research methodologies. Elissa is an experienced board director and considered a thought leader in her field having won a number of national and local awards for contributing to Women in Project Management and for Change Management Research.
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