New CIPD Code of Conduct and Ethics

The CIPD has set out its new Code of Conduct and Ethics which will take effect on 1 January 2023. The previous Code has been in place since 2012 but is programmed to expire after 10 years, to ensure HR professionals are meeting obligations which are reflective of the modern working environment.  

It is expected that all CIPD members commit to upholding and maintaining the standards and behaviours set out in the Code, regardless of their level of membership, and anyone can raise a complaint if they feel it has been breached.  

This being said, whilst the Code is designed specifically for CIPD members, it’s encouraged that anyone working in a people role follow the outlined rules and expectations. This helps improve the overall performance of both the individual and the wider workforce they support. Indeed, CIPD Chief Executive, Peter Cheese, has highlighted that the Code was developed in consultation with people in the wider HR profession, employers, legal experts, academics and ethicists, to ensure ethical principles are embedded in every organisation and in the most effective way.  

Such ethical principles, as detailed in the Code, include a commitment to having: a positive and active impact on working lives; civic virtue and stewardship; good character; professional service and competence; and personal responsibility. Employers and HR teams can help facilitate this by providing ethical leadership and emotional intelligence training. 

Profitability tends to be the main influencing factor in decision making but businesses can reap the rewards of creating an ethically focused culture. Ethical leadership prioritises managing teams through reference to core values and recognition of the rights and dignity of others. It can help to create a standardised framework of equality, diversity and inclusion; all of which are fundamental to the ongoing success of an organisation.  

Employees are also placing greater emphasis on what organisations are doing to support their people and wider communities. This has led to the increased implementation of “social safety nets.” An effective social safety net encompasses a balance of prioritisation for employee wellbeing with a range of initiatives to encourage sustainability, positive corporate social responsibility and support for local charities and organisations.  

The five key virtues outlined in the new Code of Conduct and Ethics can be broken down as follows:  

1. Positive and active impact on working lives 

  • Develop and champion policies and procedures that foster fair, consistent and equitable treatment for all. 
  • Champion and demonstrate employment and business practices that promote sensitivity for the customs, practices, culture and personal beliefs and rights of others. Whilst upholding and promoting equal opportunity, diversity, inclusion and dignity. 
  • Do not bully, harass, abuse, discriminate, victimise, or conduct offensive behaviour in the work environment.  
  • Ensure those working for you, have the appropriate level of competence, supervision and support and have the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge.  
  • Encourage and facilitate a range of speak-up options beyond whistleblowing, across your organisation. To understand the views, concerns and needs of those speaking up; supporting them and protecting them from reprisals or adverse treatment. 
  • Speak up about issues and concerns in the workplace. 

 2. Civic virtue and stewardship 

  • Evidence that stakeholders, including the wider community have been considered and (where relevant) consulted in your practice, decisions and actions.  
  • Uphold all compliance, regulatory and legal obligations in the country(ies) in which you practice. Role-model more advanced developments where possible, including acting beyond the minimum legal requirements.  
  • Act in accordance with the interests of the employer/client except where professional, ethical or legal duties require otherwise.  
  • Develop policies and practices under which people are treated with courtesy, dignity and respect. Where possible go beyond the minimum standards of treatment required under employment laws/regulation. 
  • Comply with prevailing requirements of copyright, intellectual property, patents, licensing, piracy, plagiarism, trade secrets, privacy rights and appropriation. Respect the rights of others and prevent misuse of the CIPD logo. 

 3. Good character 

  • Role-model high standards of ethical conduct, honesty, professional and personal integrity.  
  • Always act in a way which supports and upholds the standards, reputation, values and virtues of the profession. Do not act in a way which might discredit the profession, the CIPD or other members. 
  • Establish, maintain and develop professional relationships based on mutual confidence, trust and respect.  
  • Do not misuse your professional position for personal, material or financial gain or the appearance of such. 
  • Ensure that your professional judgement is not compromised nor could be perceived as being compromised because of bias, or the undue influence of others. 
  • Identify potential, apparent and actual conflicts of interest and disclose these to the appropriate person/stakeholder. If an action or transaction could be perceived as creating a conflict of interest, carefully consider whether it is proper to act in all the circumstances. Demonstrate and evidence independence and distinction between personal and professional capacity. 

 4. Professional service and competence  

  • Develop your professional knowledge, skills and competence through curiosity, seeking feedback, reflection, continuing professional development, mentorship and exposure to growth opportunities. Identify and address any gaps; demonstrate your adherence to the CIPD’s continuing professional development policy. 
  • Provide an insightful, up-to-date and evidence-based service. Manage commitments effectively and take action where deadlines and obligations are at risk of not being met, particularly where external or personal factors may disrupt service delivery. 
  • Where you are operating outside of your expertise, scope of knowledge or ability - seek advice and support, or refer work in areas outside of your (personal) competence to a trusted third party.  
  • Safeguard all restricted, confidential, commercially sensitive and personal data. Do not use it for personal advantage or to the benefit or detriment of third parties. 

 5. Personal responsibility  

  • Take action to ensure that other Members do not breach or cause a breach of this Code. If you become aware of a potential breach, you must report this to the CIPD. 
  • Take all reasonable steps to resolve disputes and complaints in a fair, timely and professional manner. Never allow a complaint to affect the standard of behaviour or professionalism shown to those who raise concerns, engage authentically and respectfully.  
  • Take responsibility for your professional actions and decisions. Rectify issues and take all reasonable steps to mitigate loss or harm as soon as possible. Inform those affected of the potential impact. 
  • Co-operate with the CIPD, any process, investigations or enquiries. Approach any subsequent hearings in an open, honest and transparent manner as a witness or respondent. Identify and preserve relevant information.  
  • Comply with all reasonable requests for information.  
  • Do not misrepresent your membership status, including the level of membership held. 
  • Ensure adequate liability insurance is held and maintained, and terms of reference are agreed for all work undertaken. 
  • Demonstrate professionalism and high standards of conduct in your professional and private communications, emails and online activities (including social media) 

The CIPD encourages all members to familiarise themselves with the new code and use it to reflect on current practices before it comes into effect on 1 January 2023. 

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