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Who complains about Professional Conduct?

Earlier this week I picked up on a few tweets about the @CIPD revised Code of Conduct. There’s also a good article (& comment) over on People Management. You may have seen some of the exchanges on Twitter between myself and @FlipChartRick, @MJCarty and @RobertBlevin. For a mini case study touching on the subject you might appreciate this post from @FlipChartRick“The BNP HR Manager”

Me & the EMCC 

As a member of the EMCC I readily abide by their Code of Ethics – it’s a standard that is important to me personally and as a professional. It’s supported by a Complaints Procedure that can be used to investigate complaints of professional misconduct by EMCC members. 
I believe these are both important underpinnings for a professional body like the EMCC. It’s sets expectations and helps protect standards for both the profession as well as clients themselves. Yet in all my encounters with fellow EMCC members, I’ve always felt that they joined because they hold these standards dear. They are in my eyes the least likely to deliberately breach the Code of Ethics. 

Enforcing Standards 

By it’s very nature, the membership and exposure to the HR agenda is much greater for the CIPD than the EMCC. However, I was surprised when @FlipChartRick asked on Twitter “How often are people chucked out of the CIPD and what for?” and @CIPD responded “Rarely, but has happened in case of serious breaches – typically where law’s been broken“. 
I’m very supportive of both the wording and the intent of the CIPDs Code of Conduct.  However, I wonder what this revised Code of Conduct heralds? 

The Case for Standards 

Codes of Conduct & Professional Standards supported by an appropriate and diligent Complaints Procedure make perfect sense. Why wouldn’t you have them if you were serious about standards of practice? 
These don’t have to brought into play only when there is a breach of the law. For me this is a sign of a professional body who cares about the practice of the profession rather than protecting its membership. 

The Conundrum 

I think there is a conundrum here especially with regards to complaints…
Members are likely to work within the Codes of Conduct as a matter of course. Those members who don’t are not likely to complain about themselves. Do fellow members feel inclined to complain about each other? 
Non-members be it individuals or organisations are most likely unaware of any Code of Conduct. Effort can be made to make non-members aware of what Conduct is expected of members but few organisations actively go out of their way to seek & encourage complaints. So who will complain? 
Perhaps this is why historically CIPD has not seen many cases of expulsion due to serious breaches… 
What do you think?
Do Codes of Conduct really make a difference to standards? I think they do if you are personally inclined to maintain appropriate professional standards. They act to guide your practice. 
Do they encourage legitimate complaints to be made to deal with transgressors? If not then how do professions seek out and deal with poor practices?  What do you think?


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