Ethical Principles and Professional Guidelines for Freelance and Skilled Independent Professionals

Author: Najia Maqsood

The world is moving towards increased freedom of professional choice and work flexibility bringing into spotlight the options for freelancing and remote working supported by innovation in technological platforms connecting billions of individuals, entities, organizations, and governments. This is hence, the beginning of a new era of progress for skilled independent professionals. But! this also brings forth countless new questions about work ethic and professionalism…

How do we define ethical conduct and professionalism? and why the concept is now more than ever important for one’s career growth?

Today we are going to discuss the topic in light of some of the world-renowned and adopted professional codes of ethics and conduct.

We believe that sharing such knowledge provides necessary and required insights into professional and behavioral guidelines for professionals to excel in not just “What?” they do -(skills & capabilities) but also “How?” they do it! -( behavioral & ethical conduct).

Now if you are a fan of the concept of the 5Ws- that requires you to ask all the questions framed with the Why, What, Who, When, Whom? before setting your strategic priorities… you should know how important the Why!is…because this is the question that sets the foundations of an organization’s Vision, Mission, and Values.

But as I grew into my career and had the privilege to learn from some of the most accomplished and the most respected C- suite Executives in professional arenas, in organizations like that of Commercial Bank of Dubai and Citi bank; something became very evident that it’s not just the Why? it is also the How?that is critical to an individual’s profession or an organization’s agenda. 

It is not enough to Do the Right Thing, it is critical to Do it the Right Way as well! and thankfully most of the time it is common sense. It is as easy or difficult to follow our conscience to guide us through the twists and turns of professional life, as it is in our personal lives.

Ethics are not rocket science but to follow ethical principles to avoid professional pitfalls, requires substance of personality, and a certain strength of character that is achieved as we become more experienced. If acquired properly such traits can guarantee success in any sector and any professional industry.

So what advantage do ethical and professional traits have above honing one’s skills? Skills make you a master of a domain skillset; Ethics connect you and make you responsible for your conduct within the wider community and humanity at large.

Today as we provide you an insight into what professionalism is and how professional code of conducts guide us as things go Mission Critical…we want you to delve deeper and simulate in your mind your professional interactions both online & offline and ask yourselves the following questions:

Q. Am I aware of my ethical & professional responsibilities?

Q. Am I behaving ethically? and within my professional boundaries?

Q. How does behaving ethical and within professional rules benefit my career? and others around me?

Because we are addressing professionals who are users of and providers of services on innovative/ technological remote working platforms like mesh; we are going to highlight some of the key clauses and articles from the globally accepted and adopted Professional Codes of Ethics & Conduct applicable for all IT professionals and professionals who use technology for performing their professional work and duties namely:

  1. ACM Code of Ethics 
  2. BCS Code of Conduct  

1. GENERAL ETHICAL PRINCIPLES(clauses: 1.3, 1.5 and 1.6) from the ACM code of ethics encourages us to: 

1.3 Be honest and trustworthy.

1.5 Respect the work required to produce new ideas, inventions, creative works, and computing artifacts.

1.6 Respect privacy.

** We have seen recent emergence and implementations of EU based regulations of Privacy Acts and Global Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) in that context, and this is how critical privacy of an individual or organizational related data and information is in the times of emergent technologies like Big Data and AI.**

2. PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES(clauses: 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3) from the ACM code of ethics guides us to: 

2.1 Strive to achieve high quality in both the processes and products of professional work.

2.2 Maintain high standards of professional competence, conduct, and ethical practice.

2.3 Know and respect existing rules pertaining to professional work.

3. PROFESSIONAL LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES(clauses: 3.2, 3.5 and 3.7) from ACM code of ethics expect us to: 

3.2 Articulate, encourage acceptance of and evaluate fulfillment of social responsibilities by members of the organization or group.

3.5 Create opportunities for members of the organization or group to grow as professionals.

3.7 Recognize and take special care of systems that become integrated into the infrastructure of society.

Now, let us have a look at what guidelines are provided by the British Computing Society(BCS) Code of Conduct

1. Public Interest

b. have due regard for the legitimate rights of Third Parties*

c. conduct your professional activities without discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, marital status, nationality, color, race, ethnic origin, religion, age or disability, or any other condition or requirement.

d. promote equal access to the benefits of IT and seek to promote the inclusion of all sectors in society wherever opportunities arise.

2. Professional Competence and Integrity

a. only undertake to do work or provide a service that is within your professional Competence.

b. NOT claim any level of competence that you do not possess.

c. develop your professional knowledge, skills, and competence continuously, maintaining awareness of technological developments, procedures, and standards that are relevant to your field.

d. ensure that you have the knowledge and understanding of Legislation* and that you comply with such Legislation, in carrying out your professional responsibilities.

e. respect and value alternative viewpoints and, seek, accept and offer honest criticisms of Work.

3. Duty to Relevant Authority

a. carry out your professional responsibilities with due care and diligence in accordance with the Relevant Authority’s requirements whilst exercising your professional judgment at all times.

b. seek to avoid any situation that may give rise to a conflict of interest between you and your Relevant Authority.

c. accept professional responsibility for your work and for the work of colleagues who are defined in a given context as working under your supervision.

4. Duty to the Profession

a. accept your personal duty to uphold the reputation of the profession and not take any action which could bring the profession into disrepute.

b. seek to improve professional standards through participation in their development, use, and Enforcement.

f. encourage and support fellow members in their professional development.

We hope that you find above ethical and professional guidelines useful.

We at mesh believe and uphold the ethical and professional principles outlined above and encourage you to do the same to improve the quality of professional interactions.

We also encourage you to stay connected and read more content on our blog site

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