In recent decades, ethics and morals have formed an increasingly important part of corporate and business standards and governance (Fisher and Lovell 2008). Therefore, it is not surprising to find that these principles now form an intrinsic part of the code of practice for most professional associations, with the aim being to improve the behaviour and integrity of their members’ performance in the market place.
Using the UK profession of chartered surveyors as an example, there follows an examination of how these principles impact on the professionalism of the individual and firm.
Essentially, the meaning of the words morals and ethics are
similar in meaning and there is certainly a synonymous link
between the two in the social context. The Royal Institute
of Chartered Surveyors (2010), confirm this link by
indicating morals underpin the behaviour of their individual
and firm members while ethics embody the moral principles
that form the basis of the institutes codes and standards of
conduct. In their professional guidance notes on ethics, the
RICS (2000) define these codes as meaning “giving of
one’s best to ensure that clients interest are properly
cared for, but in doing so the wider public interest is also
recognised and respected.”. Nonetheless, despite this
expectation, a report containing the results of a survey of
members of this profession conducted by Poon (2004),
suggests these codes are not always apparent in the
practical environment. Indeed, although the respondents
considered promoting the client’s interests was the most
important part of their role, nearly 4 in 10 considered that
ethical standards were declining.