One of the most important steps any industry needs to take on the road to professionalism is a standard set of rules and ethics that everyone agrees on. This doesn’t have to be exact, word-for-word. But certainly, the general principles should be universal inside the industry.
When the NSITSP was brand new, the Board of Directors spent almost six months working on, fine-tuning, and publishing a model Code of Ethics for ourselves and all members. This COE was posted online for six months and eventually agreed to by the membership.
We encourage all IT Service Providers to follow and post our Code of Ethics to your web site. The NSITSP Code of Ethics strives to ensure that all IT consumers (individuals and businesses) are served by professional consultants who value honesty, integrity, and professionalism in all activities.
Here are some notes about WHY you should adopt a code of ethics – both for yourself and for the industry as a whole. Obviously, all business relatioinships should be built on trust. This includes the relationships you have with your clients, your employees, your vendors, and other members of the IT community.
Having a code of ethics and living by the code of ethics are two different things. But one of the great benefits is that a public, visible, simple, and understandable code of ethics makes it easy for each of us to see whether the behavior we see matches the behavior promised in the COE. Almost all companies have a code of ethics. But when you read about scandals in the headlines, you see that a company’s behavior may not reflect their code at all.
A code of ethics is central to building a good culture. Most obviously, it sets down rules and guidelines within your company. That empowers everyone to point to the COE and use it as a guideline: “Does this behavior fit within our code of ethics?”
You company culture is then a puzzle piece connecting your company’s ethics to that of your suppliers, clients, and other partners. Culture exists within entire industries. I’m sorry to continually pick on used car salesmen, but that industry has spent a hundred years developing an industry that no one trusts. They are the “poster child” of bad behavior. Clearly, we don’t want people to look at our industry that way.
A code of ethics literally says to the world: These are guidelines we hold ourselves accountable to, and you are welcome to hold us accountable to them as well.
A powerful statement like that automatically helps you build a positive reputation with anyone who visits your web site. Therefore, we encourage you to post your code of ethics prominently (probably on the About Page) and make it easy to find.
You can find the NSITSP COE here: https://nsitsp.org/code-of-ethics/
And a handy printable PDF version here: https://nsitsp.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Code-of-Ethics-2023.pdf
In addition to keeping your business inside the law, especially with regard to privacy regulations, a good code of ethics will help you attract good employees and good clients. By good, I simply mean the kind of folks who are attracted by a strong code of ethis.
We adopted a code of ethics that we hope can set a standard for everyone in the business of technology. As you are aware, there are plenty of “bad actors” in IT consulting, and we need to work as an industry to make them feel that they should work inside ethical guidelines.
PLEASE download our code of ethics. Please post it (or something close to it) on your web site. Post it in your office and make sure your employees see it. Be open to discussing it with your employees.
If we all use and post our code of ethics, we as an industry will begin to build a reputation as the kind of businesses that people trust. It will be the beginning of standardization of ethical behavior for the whole industry.
On a very practical note, I believe a code of ethics should be short enough to fit on one page of paper AND simple enough that everyone can understand it without trying to memorize it. I think we achieved that.
Here is the NSITSP Code of Ethics. Please spread the word.
NSITSP Code of Ethics
We will always represent our skills and abilities accurately.
We will maintain our capacity to provide wise counsel for those areas we represent having expertise through education, and experience.
Conflict of Interest
We advise our clients of conflicts of interest that exist and will always present the options we genuinely believe are in the best interest of the client.
We shall not knowingly make recommendations or provide advice that serves the member and not the recipient.
We treat all client information as confidential unless we know it’s not.
We will not take advantage of proprietary or privileged information, either for use by ourselves, our client’s firm, or another client, without the client’s permission.
We have documented measures for maintaining the confidentiality of our clients’ data as well as our own.
Commitment to Clients
We compete by consistently acting in our client’s best interest and employing the highest levels of honesty, competence, transparency, and professionalism.
We expect our vendors and other IT Service Providers to operate within the same Code of Ethics we hold ourselves to, and will not tolerate unethical behavior.