Recently in Ethics class, we took a look at a few organizations codes of ethics (go figure). For the purpose of this blog and just because it was interesting, I took a deeper look at the International Association of Business Communicators’ Code of Ethics.
Like many other codes, they set guidelines and parameters for conduct for all of their professional members. It’s broken down by a preface/introduction followed by the specific codes that practicing members are expected to follow/abide by. Things like honesty, integrity, trust and responsibility are key components of most codes. Most also highlight ethical guidelines that would most would say should be self-explanatory, but I guess in some instances, reiteration is necessary.
What I did find surprising is how short the IABC’s code of ethics is. It’s very straight to the point and not supported by extra explanations. The foundation of the organization is based upon three, very simplistic principles:
· Professional communication is legal.
· Professional communication is ethical.
· Professional communication is in good taste.
They pretty much elaborate on those three principles and that concludes their code. This differs from other codes such as that of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association in that theirs is eight pages of fully detailed, ethical guidelines. I can’t say whether keeping things concise like IABC is better than an elaborately spelled out code like WOMMA, but I think they each convey their points in a respectable manner.
I think it’s interesting, however, that in regard to principles like “honesty,” IABC leaves the ethical decision making in the hands of the communicator. It simplistically states that the communicator should refrain from taking part in what he/she deems unethical. They also have no guidelines for independence, loyalty or fairness. I kind of feel like ethical guidelines should touch on everything dealing with ethics.
Over all, I think it’s important for professional organizations to have a governing set of rules to follow and abide by. Of course, these guidelines won’t necessarily be the same across the board. But they’re very necessary and any organization doesn’t have any implemented, I would surely stray away.