Business Ethics: Consulting Services Organization
The management consulting services organization should follow strict codes of ethics and moral principles to meet organizational principles and business needs. The code of ethics will be based on moral and social responsibility issues, fair treatment of customers and colleagues. Clients served by consulting services professionals will have no choice but to rely upon their lawyers for expert advice. Consulting services professionals should assume to have a command of a complicated and changing subject matter; that is why they have been hired. But this also means that clients are rarely able to evaluate the professional’s competence. This is true in criminal justice as well as in other professions. In criminal justice, this is a more complex notion because of the issue of third parties.
Code of ethics
Clients served by consulting services professionals have no choice but to rely upon their doctors, lawyers, or consulting services organizations for expert advice. Professionals are assumed to have a command of a complicated and changing subject matter; that is why they have been hired. But this also means that clients are rarely able to evaluate the professional’s competence. This is true in consulting services organizations as well as in other professions. In consulting services organizations this is a more complex notion because of the issue of third parties. In any event, the professional expert is expected to serve the client’s and not his own (or his firm’s) best interests (De George, 1999). Public confidence is based upon this foundation of trust. Codes, and their enforcement, play a strong role in maintaining such public confidence. Consulting services have a special reason to desire public support of their endeavors: businesses whose financial statements are audited pay for the consulting services. Those who receive and rely upon published financial information must be confident of the independence of the professionals who conducted the audit. The new codes of consulting services standards come at a time when business, in general, is feeling pressure to have a code of ethics. Most consulting services employees work in the business environment and those who do not interface with it. They therefore might find themselves confronted with two codes that could even be contradictory. Many consulting services will bristle at the notion of laypersons regulating the profession. There is a not-so-subtle warning in statements such as these; the proper response to criticism is to ascertain any truth in the criticism. Where fault is found, correct it. To ignore this advice is to risk the specter of having outsiders do it for the profession, perhaps in a heavy-handed way (Beauchamp and Bowie 2003).
Consulting services professionals are not without their critics concerning their professional responsibilities. A public organization is finding itself increasingly in the glare of publicity surrounding several issues of professional responsibility. The most prominently publicized are the responsibility of detecting fraud and the appropriateness of auditing the same firm for whom one has provided consulting services. Consulting services employees are also being asked to re-examine their perspective of who receives their service. Despite efforts at developing certification procedures and codes of ethics, those not in public practice have faced skepticism about their claims to professionalism. The primary problem is that the National Association of consulting services employees and the Institute of Internal Auditors have precious few recourses available to enforce their codes of professional ethics. Moreover, the certificates they issue are not required for the practice of the profession. Many have questioned whether the necessary elements for professionalism are even present in these groups, The struggle for professional recognition for consulting services employees in either managerial sphere of internal auditing still has a long way to go. On the other hand, the struggle in the public sphere will be one of protecting the profession’s already well-established professional reputation (Buchholz and Rosenthal 1998).
The training program for 15 employees will be based on two types of learning; lectures and practical part. There will be 5 lectures aimed to educate employees about the profession and the main principles of ethics. The practical part will involve 10 lessons and will help employees to study ethical rules in practice (Carroll and Gannon, 1997). The typical ethical dilemmas will be constructed by the lecturers and trainees will have to solve them using codes of ethics and moral principles. Even if companies were completely persuaded that the standards of the profession–especially independence, objectivity, and integrity–are sufficient to guarantee conformity with code requirements, we would have many other ethical dilemmas to consider. Some are global (and apply to all professions); others are more specific (and deal with consulting services employees as professionals) (De George, 1999). Any trusting relationship entails keeping secrets. In medicine, law, and business, a relationship between professional and client (or patient) could never proceed unless a guarantee of protection of private information were either implied or explicit. Lawyers have been granted almost total privilege by the law. Physicians will not divulge information about a patient unless an authentic threat to public health (e.g., a communicable disease) is apparent (Boatright, 1997).
In the new organization, special attention will be paid to audit and reporting procedures. the employees will be motivated to report all cases of misconduct coming from both clients and their colleagues. The responsibility to control and report will be performed by the supervisor. In the new consulting services company, the designation “professional” is highly desired in our society and has been for centuries. People will even take courses of action that seem on the surface to be against their economic interest because they want to protect the privilege of being known as professionals. An example would be the refusal to seek higher wages by participating in collective bargaining efforts for the primary reason that such an activity might appear unprofessional. What is it about being professional that makes it so desirable? One pervasive aspect is the notion of community. Advocates of any profession attempt to set the professional apart from the wider society. This is accomplished first through technical knowledge, then through an informal dynamics and language game that springs forth in the formative stages of professional development. Professions are thus exclusive. This exclusiveness makes the professional designation more valuable to its members. This value comes from both the obvious economic rewards available to successful professionals and from certain privileges granted by society to professions (De George, 1999).
To review the ethical problems, the problem-solving method will be used. Professions rigidly guard entry. The knowledge possessed by each profession is a source of power for that profession. Through their publications, meetings, examination syllabi, and other activities, various professional associations have historically played a role in defining and furthering the technical aspects of the profession, deciding who is competent to practice in that profession, and elaborating the discourse carried on by that particular profession (Donaldson et al. 2002).
All employees have high standards for those licensed (or accredited) to practice them. Codes and standards, even oaths, are commonly encountered for doctors and lawyers, engineers and teachers, nurses and social workers. To be a professional is to achieve special status; the acquisition and maintenance of important skills are presumed for members of the profession. Above all, a professional achieve a new “identity” on entering a profession. Consultancy services are perhaps a little harder to tell from their non-professional business colleagues, but a conservative gray or navy business suit and audit bag at least provide evidence. The acronym after the name and membership in a professional society are other sure signs of special status. Most authorities agree that a profession is characterized by four important elements (Donaldson et al. 2002).
Consulting services employees must study long, graduate from college with a minimum number of consulting services and business hours, pass a lengthy and difficult examination, have character references, gather enough years of professional experience, and be able to perform specific tasks thoroughly and efficiently to be specifically recognized. Moreover, these employees are increasingly required to satisfy continuing education requirements to keep their professional status (Carroll and Gannon 1997). Consulting services employees do not claim professional privileges to maximize fame or fortune; rather, the profession’s principal responsibility is neither to self nor to employer nor even to the client, but rather to the public. Members of the profession who lie, cheat, steal, or behave in violation of standard practice are disciplined (at least in the preliminary stages) by the profession itself. Discipline may range from a reprimand to expulsion. Those who remain members of the profession in good standing achieve many benefits, including income and public recognition. These things are rewards for the achievement and maintenance of high standards. The esteem that derives from membership in an elite group makes professional status desirable.
- Beauchamp, T., and Bowie, N. (eds). (2003). Ethical Theory and Business, 7th edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Boatright, J. (1997). Ethics and the Conduct of Business, 2nd edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Buchholz, R. and Rosenthal, S. (1998). Business Ethics, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Carroll, S. and Gannon, M. (1997). Ethical Dimensions of International Management, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- De George, R. (1999). Business Ethics, 5th edn, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Donaldson, T., et al. (2002). Ethical Issues in Business, 7th edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.