Friday, June 16, 2006

Integrity in Revising Ethics/Integrity Rules

There have been several recent articles and discussions involving revision of ethics /principles in place for various organizations, private and government. Ethics rules if written correctly should have little reason to be revised. The key to many ethics/integrity rules is to keep them constant so everyone knows and understands them. It is important to generate rules with clear direction and guidelines without the possibility of various interpretations. However, there are always going to be those who want to interpret to fit their needs. This is wrong.

Ethics/integrity principles should be written in clear language which would help to prevent different interpretations from the rules. However, there are reasons why these rules could be revised. One of these involves the need to clarify the language written in either the original version or an updated version that has had different meanings not originally recognized. Another is the result of incidents that are unacceptable to the public and/or the ethics committee tasks to keeping integrity principles within an organization or government entity.

Ethics/integrity principles should be reviewed periodically to keep the rules up to date for current acceptable conditions. Over time things that were once acceptable may now be unacceptable. In the same aspect things that were once unacceptable may now be acceptable. The people affected by ethics rules in place deserve the rules to be followed.

Many organizations have ethics/integrity principles identified in their mission or operation policies. I applaud those that have them as a way of identifying to their customers or constituents their policy with regard to ethics/integrity principles. It is important to have specific guidelines that are not open to interpretation. Again, it is also important to not have the guidelines so cumbersome that it is difficult to understand the rules for those required to follow them. It is also important for those watching those who are to obey the rules to understand them and have the capability to make a decision on any possible violation by those required to follow them.

In summary ethics/integrity principles are an important factor in identifying the principles in place for business and government organizations. Ethics/integrity principles should be properly written to avoid different interpretations of the rules. These rules should be reviewed periodically for any needed update to address conditions that were not originally identified in the current version. This can be caused by situations that surface where problems are identified where conditions are clearly unacceptable to the public but not identified as a violation of the principles in place. These kinds of issues should be addressed and added to any revisions as deemed necessary by the ethics committee.


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