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I think the concern is the gap between "what should be happening" based on codes, standards and so on, and "what is happening" in the real world.
It is rare that there would be arguments on "what should be happening" when a theoretical situation is presented. That's one of the reason why most of the PMP candidates I had mentored back when there was an explicit focus of some of the exam questions on PMI's Code of Ethics had no problems answering the questions correctly.
But take those same folks and drop them into a real world situation where doing the right thing could be a career limiting move, and it gets a lot murkier.
yes, your observation is what I see too. Ethics is perceived as boring.
There was a survey beyond people who said ethics is 'important'. Only about 50% could name specific steps they take to make it important to their work and life. So there is a lot of lip service and/or an inability to use ethics as an enabling tool.
Another aspect is that ethics in many organizations is a compliance thing, a set of principles, values, behaviors you and others are expected to adhere to. Then you might have a position you can escalate to in case of perceived violations. These are negative, punitive connotations. It is not fun and does not make happy and feel good to apply ethics (except for the many who use it for revenge).
A code of ethics is seen as a kind of law, and who thinks laws are fun and not boring? Ethics must not be seen as a regulation but rather as a means to become a better professional and human.
A missing part of the ethics systems of most organizations is that part that educates about how to use ethics for yourself. And support in getting better at it. And maybe rewards if you use it and get better at it (annual ethics award).
One of the reasons may be that ethics as compliance tool requiring confidentiality is managed by the legal department. Ethics as a driver of culture and a handrail to processes should be led by the Board.
Rule setting and sanctioning should not be the core of ethics.
Is not a boring topic. Is a topic that is not correctly debated. Prehaps just for me because I worked a lot on discipline definitions where certifications and code of ethics are involved. For exaple, project management is not a profession if you see all related inside the PMI, if we debate this in the framework of how a profession is defined formally. Neither the PMI Code of Ethics. For example, what about a project manager that is assigned and is leading a project where massive destruction weapons are created? Is that ethic or not? What the PMI has to say about that?. Then, is not a boring topic. Is a topic that can be debated in different layers of abstraction.
The PMI code (and those of other organizations like IPMA or APM) look at the how we behave as professionals and not what the projects achieve. As we move more from project to product, the what could also get into the scope of the code.
That is a problem other professions may not see, like doctors, lawyers (though they may bailout criminals ethically) or accountants, journalists.
Would the planner of 911 been able to become a PMP?
Thank you, Sergio, for your comment. I understand your concern for correctly using the terms (according their definition). So I will rephrase my question: why is Ethics, as a topic, avoided? What can we do to spark the interest for debates around different ethical concepts?
very good question, and no, the ethics is not boring. However, the ethics is something that should be thought and learned by example from childhood, at school and in the family. I do not see it as something that can be imposed by any Code of Ethics or books. I see it as principles or/and behaviour that we should follow as humans in our daily life. And then the Code of Ethics comes as a simple reminder to the practitioners that is important in our profession.
Can somebody who has not been raised with the simple ethical rules and behaviour to follow in the daily life, suddenly switch to being ethical in the his profession or projects? Or being able to recognise what is not ethical - it was mentioned by Sergio the situation when a PM is engaged in "non-ethical" projects?
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