What are professional ethics and why are they important?

What are professional ethics and why are they important
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Professional ethics is important because it dictates to professionals a series of rules related to the way a professional acts towards the people with whom he/she relates professionally.

From a philosophical point of view, ethics has to do with morality and with the way people act in the sense of goodness or badness.

In this article I will inform you about professional ethics, types of ethics, characteristics of professional ethics, principles on which it is based and the reasons why professional ethics is important.

What is professional ethic?

Work ethic

Professional ethics is constituted by all the moral standards that govern the behavior and actions of professionals. It should be noted that for each profession these rules may vary, but they will always be based on principles and values.

It is also pertinent to conceptualize a professional, morals and ethics.

Professional. Generally refers to a university graduate who has completed a degree and who exercises his or her profession with ability and application.

Moral. This term refers to a person’s way of acting, in terms of his or her social and individual life, relating this action to good and evil or to goodness and malice.

Ethics. It refers to the moral norms on which the conduct of a person is based in the environment in which he/she develops; be it individual, social or professional, among others. Ethics is divided into three branches or types: metaethics, normative and applied.

Professional ethics is of the applied type, where controversial issues are dealt with from the point of view of morality.

Why are professional ethics important?

Coworkers listening to their colleague

Professional ethics are important because they serve to create organizations based on moral standards of conduct.

Here are a number of reasons why professional ethics are important.

General characteristics of professional ethics

Professional ethics has general characteristics from which other more specific ones can be derived:

It is related to morality.

Professional ethics arises from the impulse to keep human performance in order and under rules.

Professional ethics seeks to support and improve the service provided by a professional.

It pursues the moral rectitude of the professions.

Professional ethics seeks to ensure that the professions follow the positive paths established in each society.

Professional ethics implies compliance with values.

It presents the virtues with which professionals practice.

Principles of professional ethics

Professional ethics are based on the principles of beneficence, autonomy, non-maleficence and justice.

Principle of beneficence.

Its foundation refers to goods and virtues; and the professional's actions are oriented to maintain a favorable behavior towards the person requesting the service and towards society in general.

Principle of autonomy.

It is oriented in the respect for freedom, in the search for balance and equity as a rule in the relationship between the professional and the client; so that there are no conflicts of interest and much less ethical.

Principle of non-maleficence.

It is based on the omission of any act that may cause harm; the professional is obliged not to harm in any way the people he/she deals with.

Principle of justice.

It is based on the social sense of the profession; it pursues the commitment of the professions to seek the common good, dignified life and the establishment of justice and equity.

Types of professional ethics

Professional ethics refers to principles and criteria that regulate the actions of a professional; however, there are several types of professional ethics, each of which is related to a profession. The following are the most relevant ones.

Professional Code of Ethics

There is no one-size-fits-all code of ethics for professionals, as the ethical principles that guide a professional’s conduct will vary depending on the individual’s field of practice.

However, there are some general ethical principles that all professionals should adhere to, such as honesty, integrity, and respect for others.

Additionally, professionals should always put the interests of their clients or patients first and avoid any conflicts of interest.

The framework of the disciplinary ethical standards must be set out by the organization.

It will be an obligation to follow the code of conduct and ethics for the members of that profession.

The aim of having a code of ethics is to reduce the doubts in ethical decision making processes.

Moreover regardless of the industry, professionals have to preserve the integrity and reputation of the company.

With a code of ethics, organizations might not ensure totally that employees wil behave, but it sets out a minimum ethical behavior that is expected to reduce or eliminate any complaints, confidential information leakage or ethical issues where the image of the company can be damaged.

How to develop higher professional ethical standards?

Professionals can learn about ethical procedures and how to apply them in their work. 

Higher professional ethical standards can be developed through education and training.

Some ways to develop professional conduct in ethical standards may include taking courses or workshops on ethics, attending professional conferences, or reading professional journals. 

Individuals can also seek out mentors, supervisors or role models who exemplify ethical responsibilities with professionalism at their workplace.

They can also receive guidance on how to deal with ethical dilemmas and relevant laws.

Additionally, organizations can create an ethical culture by setting clear expectations for employees and providing resources to help them make ethical decisions.

How do professional ethics impact decision-making?

When faced with ethical dilemmas, professionals are tasked with considering ethical principles to make informed decisions that align with moral values and professional obligations. Ethical decision-making involves evaluating the potential consequences of actions on stakeholders and society as a whole.

Balancing professional obligations with ethical considerations requires individuals to prioritize ethical standards and integrity in their decision-making processes. Addressing conflicts of interest and maintaining transparency are vital aspects of upholding professional ethics.

Professional ethics influence the choices individuals make in their professional functions, emphasizing the importance of ethical behavior and responsible decision-making in all aspects of their work.

What are some common ethical principles in professional settings?

Confidentiality stands as a fundamental ethical principle in professional practice, highlighting the importance of safeguarding sensitive information and respecting clients’ privacy. Maintaining confidentiality builds trust and protects the interests of individuals seeking professional services.

Professionals are expected to strive for excellence and uphold professional integrity in all their endeavors. This commitment to excellence involves continuous learning, adherence to ethical guidelines, and demonstrating a high level of competence in their respective fields.

Upholding the dignity of individuals is an ethical obligation that professionals must adhere to. Respecting the autonomy and rights of clients and colleagues fosters a culture of mutual respect and promotes a supportive and inclusive work environment.

How to navigate ethical challenges in professional practice?

Establishing a framework for ethical decision-making is essential for professionals to navigate ethical challenges effectively. This framework should encompass ethical principles, codes of ethics, and guidelines for ethical conduct within the profession.

Proceeding with ethical considerations in all actions is crucial for maintaining professional integrity and upholding ethical responsibilities. Professionals must be mindful of the impact of their decisions on stakeholders and society, ensuring that their actions align with ethical standards.

When faced with ethical dilemmas, professionals can refer to established guidelines and seek advice from relevant committees on professional ethics. Addressing ethical challenges requires a thoughtful and deliberate approach that prioritizes ethical values and principles.

Examples of compliance with professional ethics

Business people are working meeting

Compliance with professional ethics is evident when:

In conclusion, there is a close relationship between ethics and the profession, since professionals in all areas must act under the principle of not doing wrong voluntarily to another human being and comply with ethics by contributing to collective development and social welfare.

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