Exploring the origins, ethics and future of changemaking

Posts Tagged ‘code of ethics’

The ethics of working outside of one’s competence

In Ethics on July 17, 2012 at 9:51 am

It is a basic ethical standard in most professions and industries for one to operate within their field of competence. This is true in law, medicine, psychotherapy, financial advice and more. Professional bodies will often dictate what the minimum standards of competence are, and codes of ethics require or suggest that professionals operate within the individual’s level of competence.

In the first instance, it is up to the individual professional to self-regulate and operate to their level of competence. It is generally accepted that if a professional comes up against the limits of their competence, they refer to the matter to a colleague or someone with the competence to handle the situation.

Professional competence and minimum standards are important ethically in order to protect both the industry from ‘dodgy operators’, and also to protect clients and customers from harm caused by poor practice. This is interesting for the field of ‘doing good’, which is neither regulated nor has suggested minimum standards of competence. It is an area with very low barriers to entry. Basically, anyone can start a charity, community service or business. One does not need a particular set of skills or competence; all they need is an idea. There are bodies like the Australian Community Workers Association that promote and support community workers, including outlining codes of ethics and providing ongoing professional development. Being a member of this body is not a legislated prerequisite for employment in the community sector however.

As a social entrepreneur and long-term do-gooder, I have found myself in numerous situations where I was pushed beyond my level of competence. This was particularly so Read the rest of this entry »

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