Even though in my previous blog I promised to address How I Got Here, I’m changing that due to some very recent news.
On May 11, 2011, The New York Times published an article by entitled, Next Up, A Crackdown on Outside-Expert Firms, and while it wasn’t specifically about management consulting firms, it does raise serious ethical questions in a number of arenas. At this moment, I am humming Peter, Paul and Mary’s song, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” substituting ethics for flowers. If you know it (or admit you are old enough to remember it), hum along as you read.
Robert Weisberg, a professor of criminal law at Stanford, was quoted in the article, "If this little industry [ed: the outside-expert network] is to survive, it’s going to have to glow with virtue, which means a lot of self-regulation.”
It is my opinion, supported by research (see, for example, Gallup’s 2008 Nurses Shine While Bankers Slump Ethics Ratings), that ethics, for a number of professions, is slumping, "..the 12% very high/high honesty and ethics ratings for business executives … is a record low for that profession.” The rating did improve somewhat in the most recent survey (to 15%) by Gallup. [Note: Management consulting, as a profession, was not in the survey.]
As a member of IMC USA you pledge in writing to abide by our Code of Ethics and voluntarily agree to be self-disciplined. Take a moment, click the link, and look at the Code. Now think about the predicament that the New York Times article addressed about the outside-expert network industry. What if members of that industry subscribed to such a Code of Ethics? Take #5.0, for example, "I will treat appropriately all confidential client information that is not public knowledge, take reasonable steps to prevent it from access by unauthorized people, and will not take advantage of proprietary or privileged information, either for use by myself, the client's firm, or another client, without the client's permission.” Would that industry and some of its leaders be in a much better place now? I think so.
So, as I keep humming my "Where Have All the Ethics Gone?” tune, I am convinced that the ethics reside, at least for the management consulting industry, within our membership and our adherence to the Code of Ethics, which forms our backbone. And, this makes me proud. Thank you.
Remember our tagline, Setting the Standard for Excellence and Ethics in Consulting.