Code of Ethics for Consultants

In the June 2008 newsletter, I proposed an Internal Auditor Code of Conduct. My article began by stating that ethical behavior is the foundation of professionalism.

Since many of us in the quality field have become self-employed consultants, I’m adding in this issue a proposed Consultant Code of Ethics.

A client engages the consultant in the belief that the consultant is capable of performing the services, in a timely manner, and at an agreed to price.

If you are a consultant, you should adopt a Code of Ethics similar to the one below to communicate your intentions and guide your actions.

Purpose

To communicate the integrity, objectivity, confidentiality, trust, and professionalism expected of consultants, as well as, to provide a means for consultants to pledge their commitment to these principles.

Clients

1. I will serve my clients with integrity, competence, and objectivity; And, I will use a professional approach at all times, placing the client’s best interests above all others.

2. I will treat client information that is not public knowledge as confidential and take reasonable steps to prevent its access by unauthorized persons.

3. I will keep the client informed of the project status and not knowingly misrepresent the facts; And, I will share this information even if it is unfavorable and may jeopardize the assignment.

Engagements

4. I will only accept assignments for which I am qualified by my competence and experience; And, I will only assign staff or engage colleagues with the requisite knowledge and expertise.

5. I will ensure the objectives, scope, work plan, and fee arrangements have been established and agreed to by the client before accepting an assignment.

6. I will avoid conflicts of interest and disclose any situations that may influence my objectivity; And, I will offer to withdraw from an assignment if my objectivity should become impaired.

Fees

7. I will agree in advance with a client on the basis for my fees and expenses; And, I will charge fees and expenses that are reasonable, legitimate, and commensurate with the responsibilities accepted and the services delivered.

8. I will disclose to clients any fees or commissions that I may receive for recommended goods or services, as well as, any financial interests in those goods or services.

Profession

9. I will respect the intellectual property rights of my clients and other consultants; And, I will not take advantage of proprietary or privileged information, either for use by myself or others, without permission.

10. I will not advertise or promote my consulting services in a deceptive manner; And, I will not misrepresent or denigrate other consultants or consulting firms.

11. I will use properly licensed software on my computer and distribute documents that comply with copyright laws; And, I will not knowingly participate in activities that are in violation of legal statutes or regulations.

I agree to adhere to this Code of Ethics and pledge my commitment to uphold its principles.

Signed by: __________________________
Printed Name: _______________________
Date: ______________________________

Although this Code of Ethics addresses specific areas, its fundamental spirit can be expressed very simply:

“If the client knew what I did, and why I did it, would I still take the same action?”