Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ethical behaviour based on truth, trust and honesty

As members of a profession, we sign up to a Code of Ethics that helps shape our behaviour.

The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) Code of Ethics was first developed at the birth of the PRIA 60 years ago and, despite updating over the years, remains largely unchanged. We have modernised, clarified, added, subtracted and added again, but the essentials have remained intact.

This reason for this is simple - ethical behaviour is based on a basic set of beliefs centred on truth, trust and honesty.

Each profession, association or occupation may add its own set of values around specifics. For example, we have clauses that relate to remuneration and journalists have clauses relating to revealing sources. At the heart, though, are the basics - truth, trust and honesty.

I use these three values as the key to my own ethical behaviour, then overlay them with the PRIA’s Code of Ethics along with the guidance provided by the Practice Notes put together by the College of Fellows.

In the end, find a simple test to judge yourself by. Here is mine:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it fair?
  • Is it honest?
  • Is it misleading?
  • Will it do unnecessary harm?
  • Is it aligned to my own moral values?
  • Would I be happy for my mother to know I did it?
  • Would my children be proud of me for doing it?

Ethical behaviour is not a mantra to be framed and forgotten but a set of values that can help guide your practice and development.

As published in the PRIA National Newsletter September 2009.
Tracy is national president of the PRIA.

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