Happy Ethics Month from UF PRSSA! Ethical behavior is a crucial element of reputation building. Since public relations is centered on building mutually beneficial relationships, we use September as a month to celebrate and learn what ethics really means. We are lucky that PRSA offers us a very insightful Code of Ethics to follow. The core values are as follows: • Protect and advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information. • Foster informed decision making through open communication. • Protect confidential and private information. • Promote healthy and fair competition among professionals. • Avoid conflicts of interest. • Work to strengthen the public’s trust in the profession.
Volkswagen is currently facing a major scandal due to a breach of ethics. If you haven’t heard, VW created and installed a code called a “defeat device” that could sense when one of its diesel vehicles was being tested for levels of nitrogen oxide emissions. The software would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions while the test ran to ensure that the vehicles met regulation standards. However, when under normal conditions and not being tested for emissions, the vehicles used separate software that increased nitrogen oxide emissions for greater acceleration and fuel economy. Volkswagen is the world’s largest automaker. With that level of power comes a great deal of responsibility, yet Volkswagen failed to behave in an ethical manner and chose instead to engage in illegal acts to make their products appear better than they truly were. Take a moment to look back over PRSA’s core values from its Code of Ethics and think about what would have happened if Volkswagen had followed these general ethical rules. Ethics matter just as much for the independent PR practitioner as they do for the world’s largest automaker. Ethics are a promise to others that you will act in a way that is just and fair. Ethics define your reputation; whether that is a personal brand or a world leader, it’s always essential to act in an ethical manner. Reputations can’t always be repaired, trust can’t always be regained and mistakes can’t always be forgotten. Acting ethically bolsters your reputation, gains trust and creates the type of mutually beneficial relationships that will endure over time.
This post was written by Vice President of Chapter Development Torri Macarages