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Topics: Communications Management, Ethics, Leadership
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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Feb 20, 2020 5:16 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
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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
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?
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Feb 22, 2020 7:07 PM
Kiron Bondale
...
I think it would be - it would be better if PMI joined if other global PM associations to try to get the role recognized as a true profession (such as a lawyer, engineer or doctor) with all of the rights and responsibilities which come with that.
Feb 21, 2020 5:18 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
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.
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.
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Feb 22, 2020 11:40 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
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It is not because I am saying that. PMI can go to real professions definition you cna find in professional certification belings to medicine, laws, enfineering and others. Perhpas that is not the strategy of the PMI and good for me. In fact I have 3 PMI certudication. But, if we are talking about proffesionalism and ethics we need to debate it in the rigth context. If not, in my personal opinion, we are not respect the other professuons
Feb 21, 2020 11:55 PM
Replying to Deepa Bhide
...
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..
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 22, 2020 8:44 AM
Replying to Albert Agbemenu
...
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.
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 22, 2020 9:29 AM
Replying to Valerie Denney
...
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.
It is not because I am saying that. PMI can go to real professions definition you cna find in professional certification belings to medicine, laws, enfineering and others. Perhpas that is not the strategy of the PMI and good for me. In fact I have 3 PMI certudication. But, if we are talking about proffesionalism and ethics we need to debate it in the rigth context. If not, in my personal opinion, we are not respect the other professuons
Feb 22, 2020 9:13 AM
Replying to Valerie Denney
...
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".
Dear Valerie
Thanks for your comment and for the information about "PMI ethics toolkit"
Feb 22, 2020 9:20 AM
Replying to Valerie Denney
...
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?
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?
Feb 22, 2020 9:22 AM
Replying to Valerie Denney
...
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?
I think it would be - it would be better if PMI joined if other global PM associations to try to get the role recognized as a true profession (such as a lawyer, engineer or doctor) with all of the rights and responsibilities which come with that.
Feb 21, 2020 11:55 PM
Replying to Deepa Bhide
...
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..
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.
Feb 21, 2020 5:18 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
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.
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...
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Feb 24, 2020 7:40 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Perhaps it is a "deformation" due to I worked to help some other organizations similar to PMI to define certifications and get it recognized by international organizations. If an organization creates a certification and like it to be recognized by international organizations in the matter then some requisites have to be fullfil. One of them is taking a code of conduct. But when you search in the real requisites to have a discipline recognized as a profession, like medice/laws/engineering, you will find that a higher level is requested. For example, to create a code of conduct which is legally actionable then the professional have "to pay" just in case making actions agains the code. As in medicine for example. My position is: ethic is something that have to be other framework of debate. As I mentioned as an example: what about the certified PMs that are working creating massive destruction weapons? Are they against the PMI´s Code of Ethics? I am not against those PMs, because ethics is something that start for everyone, but here is when subjectivity comes.
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