An increasing emphasis on ethical conduct and the legal ramifications for professionals within the construction industry has brought about a remarkable change: In an effort to improve the operating efficiency and reliability of construction companies, the design and implementation of systems has resulted in the ability to enforce accountability whilst reducing errors, remaining competitive, and increasing employee productivity.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines Ethics as a system of accepted beliefs that control behaviour, especially such a system based on morals. Ethical behaviour is often measured by the degree of trustworthiness and integrity with which companies conduct business. An increasing emphasis on sustainability and environmental aspects of construction, further applies ethical standards to organisations and their activities.
Some of the largest construction contractors in the world have faced multi-million fines for significant breaches of ethics and compliance, on issues from bribery and collusion to modern slavery. In response to the inconsistent approach to ethics in real estate, a global consultation on ethics was launched by the International Ethics Standards (IES) Coalition in January 2016. The IES set out a professional code of ethics for professionals in land, property, construction, infrastructure, and related professions that provide assurance, consistency and confidence to users of professional real estate services:
Accountability Practitioners shall take full responsibility for the services they provide; shall recognise and respect client, third party and stakeholder rights and interests; and shall give due attention to social and environmental considerations throughout.
Confidentiality Practitioners shall not disclose any confidential or proprietary information without prior permission, unless such disclosure is required by applicable laws or regulations.
Conflict of interest Practitioners shall make any and all appropriate disclosures in a timely manner before and during the performance of a service. If, after disclosure, a conflict cannot be removed or mitigated, the practitioner shall withdraw from the matter unless the parties affected mutually agree that the practitioner should properly continue.
Financial Responsibility Practitioners shall be truthful, transparent and trustworthy in all their financial dealings.
Integrity Practitioners shall act with honesty and fairness and shall base their professional advice on relevant, valid and objective evidence.
Lawfulness Practitioners shall observe the legal requirements applicable to their discipline for the jurisdictions in which they practise, together with any applicable international laws.
Reflection Practitioners shall regularly reflect on the standards for their discipline, and shall continually evaluate the services they provide to ensure that their practice is consistent with evolving ethical principles and professional standards.
Standard of Service Practitioners shall only provide services for which they are competent and qualified; shall ensure that any employees or associates assisting in the provision of services have the necessary competence to do so; and shall provide reliable professional leadership for their colleagues or teams.
Transparency Practitioners shall be open and accessible; shall not mislead or attempt to mislead; shall not misinform or withhold information as regards products or terms of service; and shall present relevant documentary or other material in plain and intelligible language.
Trust Practitioners shall uphold their responsibility to promote the reputation of their profession and shall recognise that their practice and conduct bears upon the maintenance of public trust and confidence in the IESC professional organisations and the professions they represent.
There are conflicting opinions as to whether or not the adoption of such codes results in improved ethical conduct. Some commentators suggest that codes of ethics can never be more than “window dressing” and thus self-serving as simply public relations efforts.
Chris Blythe, Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) said: “It is crucial that professional ethics are implemented throughout the supply chain, particularly in markets that are susceptible to differing standards. ”
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