Update to the CIBSE Code of Conduct

By Doug King, on behalf of the CIBSE Professional Conduct Committee

The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) is the standing committee tasked with supporting professional standards by maintaining the CIBSE Code of Conduct and administering the Institution’s disciplinary procedures.

During a recent review of the Code of Conduct, PCC debated one particular clause regarding ethical behaviour when members act on behalf of CIBSE. This clause had been added to a previous review to bring attention to the need for members to segregate their role with the Institution from the employment and other interests.

PCC has identified that members should not benefit financially or commercially from their involvement with CIBSE, and should not use their position to gain advantage over any other member.

While the existing clause provided direction regarding conflicts of interest, PCC felt that there were other ethical behaviours that should also be referenced.

After some debate, PCC members agreed that, rather than expand the Code of Conduct considerably, reference could simply be made to ‘The Seven Principles of Public Life’. Clause Six of the Code of Conduct has therefore been revised to read:

‘When acting on behalf of the Institution, act in accordance with the Seven Principles of Public Life, accurately represent the views of the Institution, and refrain from promoting their own or their employers’ interest.’

The Seven Principles of Public Life were first set out by Lord Nolan in 1995, in the first report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

The Nolan Principles, as they are now widely known, outline the ethical standards to which those working in the public sector are expected to adhere.

The principles are included in a range of codes of conduct across public life, and are founded on the understanding that all public office holders are both servants of the public and stewards of public resources.

The seven principles are:

1 Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

2 Integrity – Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try, inappropriately, to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

3 Objectivity – Holders of the public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

4 Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions, and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

5 Openness – Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

6 Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful.

7 Leadership – Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.