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#272: Does Ethical Consulting Pay?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I always try to do the right thing by my clients but am wondering whether it "pays" to provide ethical consulting services.

This is an uncomfortable question, but I suspect one that some management consultants might at least think about. It implies that the decision to ethically provide consulting services might depend on whether doing so results in higher fees. Interpretation of how exactly to apply ethical practices to a given consulting situation has some nuance. However, the decision to ground every business decision in ethical principles is absolute. The IMC USA Code of Ethics is the standard of practice for US management consultants. It implies a commitment to be "bound by the unenforceable," that is, doing the right thing regardless of whether anyone else knows.

Since you asked, though, there is increasing evidence that ethical practices "pay." An article in The Wall Street Journal reported that people will pay a premium for products they consider to be produced with ethical practices. Perhaps more importantly, people will require a deep discount to buy products they perceive to be produced with unethical practices. If the intrinsic value of doing the right thing is not enough, a utilitarian justification may have to do.

Tip: Given the disrepute in which consultants are sometimes held, this suggests a vigorous effort to assure clients that you are committed to act ethically and are bound by the profession's ethics code. The most authentic demonstration is through voluntary commitment to being bound by formal IMC enforcement procedures as a member but, at a minimum, you should discuss with your clients that you will abide by IMC Code of Ethics.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  business culture  client relations  consultant role  ethics  goodwill  professionalism  your consulting practice 

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