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Ethical behavior in project management: who does the Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct Apply to?
The Project Management Institute is serious about ethical behavior and responsibility in the project management profession. Ethical choices diminish risks, enable positive results and long term success while building a positive reputation. Without ethical responsibility, you really can’t have effective leadership.

To enable confidence in the profession and help individuals make good ethical decisions, the PMI publishes the Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct (referred to as “the code” (https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/code).

Who DOES “the code” apply to and why? Who SHOULD “the code” apply to and why?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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It applies to anyone (directly or organically) who is committed to doing the right thing. When I first read the code and had to sign it as part of my PMI journey, I didn't have to think twice since everything mentioned in the "code" is what I already considered to be the standard anyway.
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1 reply by Valerie Denney
Feb 22, 2020 9:10 AM
Valerie Denney
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Murtaza,

Thank you for responding. So it should apply to everyone, but only those "who [are] committed to doing the right thing". There are some people out there who have not demonstrated a commitment.
Dear Valerie

Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

The PMI has two fundamental documents:

- Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct
- Ethical Decision-Making Framework

That all project management professionals, team members and other interested parties must comply scrupulously

It is clear that the Principles are universal and, as such, internalized and respected by all human beings regardless of whether they are members of the PMI

We cannot confuse a code of ethics with legislation

Note: the link you shared is not working
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2 replies by Valerie Denney
Feb 22, 2020 9:13 AM
Valerie Denney
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Luis,

Thank you for your reply, There actually are many more ethics documents if you want to include the Ethical Decision-Making Framework. The PMI has a whole host of other ethics-related tools. For more information, search for "PMI ethics toolkit".
Feb 22, 2020 9:20 AM
Valerie Denney
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Luis,

You make a great point about not confusing the code of ethics with legislation. SHOULD the PMI Code of Conduct and Professional Development be legally binding?
Valerie -

The code directly applies to active PMI members and anyone holding a PMI credential who is no longer a member.

It would be ideal if it became a standard code for all PM practitioners the way such codes are defined for other professions. However, I would expect other PM associations would likely take exception to PMI trying to do this...

Kiron
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1 reply by Valerie Denney
Feb 22, 2020 9:22 AM
Valerie Denney
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Kiron,

Kiron, Great comment. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a single for the the Project Management profession? As you point out, there are other PM organizations besides PMI (although PMI is the largest by far) AND organizational codes. So I ask you... would making the PMI "code" applicable to "the world" be redundant?
In the case of PMI, ethical code is not legally actionable as in other professions. To have a code of ethic is a requisite organizations that create a certification has to fullfil in order to get those certifications certified by specific organizations that guarantee the certification. To create a real profession, in the real sense of the word, the code of ethics must be legally actionable and people have oath of the code of conduct and ethics like you can find in medicine or law. For example, It is "funny" to find certified PMPs that works in projects to create massive destruction weapons. It is against the PMI´s Code of Ethics? I do not know but I did not read a PMI position about that. So, ethics is above the code. On the other side, most of the people that works in organizations have to adhere and follow the organizational code of ethic which is on top of other code of ethic including the PMI.
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2 replies by Albert Agbemenu and Valerie Denney
Feb 22, 2020 9:29 AM
Valerie Denney
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Sergio,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. In your opinion, what would it take to make project management a "real profession" beyond making the code actionable? To what extent is there value in having PMI change from a code acknowledgement ("I read it") to a signed oath stating "I solemnly swear or affirm that I will abide" and have legal teeth behind it--- including being banned from the profession? Simply trying to stir some conversation here.
Feb 24, 2020 3:39 AM
Albert Agbemenu
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I kind of agree with the latter of Valerie's response. I think it would be great if we should have PMI advocating for the code to become sort of an oath with some legal binding so it can bite. This can be tested starting from the United States making it a legislation and once its making positive impact, the rest of the globe would adopt it gradually.

My thoughts...
Thanks Valerie. This is an interesting topic as it broadly covers the actual position PMI is taking to ensure it is followed and is actionable. I would agree with our colleagues above in terms of ethics as a principle is "above" the code. I particularity like the example where ethics is cited for projects that probably create weapons!

I think it should cover all PM practitioners and also be weaved in the way they practice the profession they belong to. Having 2 codes in silo will cause a confusion on priority and application.

My 2 cents..
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2 replies by Deepa Bhide and Valerie Denney
Feb 22, 2020 9:31 AM
Valerie Denney
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Thank you Deepa,

I would say ethical behavior is not only "above the code", but also beyond what the law requires.

Please explain more for this forum, what it means to have 2 codes in silo.
Feb 23, 2020 11:00 PM
Deepa Bhide
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Hi Valerie, having 2 codes in silo refers to having been governed by code of one's own profession/domain and then code of ethics and professional conduct by PMI. Although for a subject like ethics, both the codes will be directionally aligned, there may be areas where they differ.

This may trigger confusion.
Thanks Valerie for this thought provoking topic.

As per the purpose for the publication of the code, it applies to all PMI members, PMI certification holders and non PMI members who volunteer to the organization. This is so because PMI established it for that purpose.

Having said so above, the code in my opinion should be applicable to all project management practitioners including PMs, team members, sponsors and all major stakeholders within a project environment. In my opinion, considering the intent of this code, it must even be applicable to all persons within the governance structure of every organization.

Sticking and working within this code will definitely make the world a better place for all mankind. We will definitely not have any justification for most of the wrongs we perpetrate in this world if we all agree to live and work within scope of the code.
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2 replies by Albert Agbemenu and Valerie Denney
Feb 22, 2020 9:34 AM
Valerie Denney
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Albert,

Great response here. I completely agree in principle that the code should apply to everyone, but given that the authority of the PMI only goes so far, how could we make that happen? Or... should PMI focus on anyone who has contact with PMI in any shape or form?
Feb 24, 2020 3:50 AM
Albert Agbemenu
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I think PMI can take charge of this process and make a big case out of it as a global issue. It will not be an easy task but once we start by engaging the big players in the project management fraternity, gradually we can make a huge impact and make it work.
Feb 20, 2020 3:34 PM
Replying to Murtaza Sheikh
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It applies to anyone (directly or organically) who is committed to doing the right thing. When I first read the code and had to sign it as part of my PMI journey, I didn't have to think twice since everything mentioned in the "code" is what I already considered to be the standard anyway.
Murtaza,

Thank you for responding. So it should apply to everyone, but only those "who [are] committed to doing the right thing". There are some people out there who have not demonstrated a commitment.
Feb 20, 2020 4:36 PM
Replying to Luis Branco
...
Dear Valerie

Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

The PMI has two fundamental documents:

- Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct
- Ethical Decision-Making Framework

That all project management professionals, team members and other interested parties must comply scrupulously

It is clear that the Principles are universal and, as such, internalized and respected by all human beings regardless of whether they are members of the PMI

We cannot confuse a code of ethics with legislation

Note: the link you shared is not working
Luis,

Thank you for your reply, There actually are many more ethics documents if you want to include the Ethical Decision-Making Framework. The PMI has a whole host of other ethics-related tools. For more information, search for "PMI ethics toolkit".
...
1 reply by Luis Branco
Feb 22, 2020 11:49 AM
Luis Branco
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Dear Valerie
Thanks for your comment and for the information about "PMI ethics toolkit"
By the way, the link in the original posting was incorrect. Thank you Luis

The correct link is https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/code

The original posting tried to use the parenthesis and period.
Feb 20, 2020 4:36 PM
Replying to Luis Branco
...
Dear Valerie

Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

The PMI has two fundamental documents:

- Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct
- Ethical Decision-Making Framework

That all project management professionals, team members and other interested parties must comply scrupulously

It is clear that the Principles are universal and, as such, internalized and respected by all human beings regardless of whether they are members of the PMI

We cannot confuse a code of ethics with legislation

Note: the link you shared is not working
Luis,

You make a great point about not confusing the code of ethics with legislation. SHOULD the PMI Code of Conduct and Professional Development be legally binding?
...
1 reply by Luis Branco
Feb 22, 2020 11:56 AM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Valerie
Thank you for answering me and for your question

Whoever signs the PMI code of ethics is bound to comply with the same code

Whoever signs the PMI Code of Ethics is legally bound

The question is: Can PMI legally sue a person for failure to comply with the Code of Ethics signed by one of the members?

Is there jurisprudence on this topic?
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