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Consultancy Specialist Group

A joint event with the
BCS Ethics Forum.

“Ethical Dilemmas“
Wednesday 12th March 2008

BCS London Office, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA

Session 1: Clive Bonny & John McGarvey, Independent Consultants
Session 2: Dr Penny Duquenoy, BCS Ethics Forum Strategic Panel
Session 1
 History of Ethics;
 Definitions;
 Ethics Today;
 Ethics – is this a problem for
 Ethics and the Independent Consultant;
 Consulting Dilemmas;
 Profiting from ‘Good Practice’.
Ethics – A Little History
 From Ancient Greece about 460 BC;
 Hippocrates may have been the first
proponent of ethical behaviour;
 Philosophy is the discipline concerned
with the questions of how one should live
(ethics); what sorts of things exist and
what are their essential natures
(metaphysics); what counts as genuine
knowledge (epistemology); and what are
the correct principles of reasoning (logic);
 An underlying thought system for moral
judgements and behaviour.
Ethics - Definition
 Ethics - also called ’Moral
philosophy’ the discipline concerned
with what is morally good and bad, right
and wrong. The term is commonly applied
to any system or theory of moral values
or principles;

 Ethics - the fundamental issues of

practical decision making and its major
concerns include the nature of ‘ultimate
value’ and the standards by which human
actions can be judged.
Source: Encyclopædia Britannica
Ethics Today
 Today the word Ethics is often
substituted for Morals;
 Focus is on ‘Business ethics’ and how
this affects the consultant in their day to
day working life;
 Is it important? Can ethics just be
ignored and carry on as normal?
The Trouble with Consultants …
 Public opinion low;
 Successful assignments do not make
 Government (biggest user of
Consultants and Interim Managers)
rarely has anything positive to say;
 NAO says that there is some way to go
before good value for money is achieved
overall for use of consultants.
Independent Consultants
 Client Focussed. The Client’s needs are all
 No ‘Conflict of Interest’ with Practice
 No pressure to find work for other
 Lower cost base means VFM rate flexibility;
 Access to associates for specialist skills
when required.
Ethical Consultant
 Takes assignments only in those fields where they
can confidently predict that they can help their
 Is professionally qualified in these areas and
keeps up their CPD;
 Acts as a guide or mentor to junior or less
experienced consultants;
 Has professional indemnity and public liability
insurance as necessary;
 Subscribes to a professional body which has a
code of professional conduct;
 Supports their professional body with their time
or ‘pro bono’ consulting as appropriate.
Consulting Dilemmas
Consulting Dilemmas from Clive Bonny www.consult-

Please respond to the following situations according to

what you would ACTUALLY do, NOT what you think you
SHOULD do. This requires some tough but honest
internal dialogue! If this dialogue is too tough please
consider yourself a twin of the main player, and decide
how you would react to your twin AFTER they have
taken this course of action. When you have decided,
please share this decision within your syndicate to
discuss all individual responses. Discussions will be
held without disclosing identities outside the syndicate
to ensure confidentiality. A nominated person will
record the way the discussion develops without
attributing who said what.
Dilemma 1
1. You have quoted time and materials
pricing for two similar assignments both
requiring preparatory work. To your
delight both clients order the work but a
dilemma has been created. The
preparatory work on one job can also be
used on the other job. Potentially this
reduces your costs and allows you to
reduce pricing on one or both jobs. What
would you do?
Dilemma 2
2. You and a colleague have worked hard
with much time negotiating a bid which
you have just won. You are reviewing
your colleague’s bid offer and notice that
the client pre-qualification question
requiring a specific CPD certification was
not answered. The client and your
colleague appear to have overlooked this.
You do not have the required certification.
What would you do?
Dilemma 3
3. You have developed a successful client
relationship for some years. Your main
client contact has indicated to you
confidentially s(he) is considering a move
to a consulting supplier who competes
with yourself. You were planning to recruit
a person with the same skills and
experience. What would you do?
Dilemma 4
4. You are in the middle of delivering a
successful project with your employed team.
The client wishes to extend the work and has
emailed you asking you confirm within 48
hours that you have the capacity to deliver
more as time is of the essence for a decision.
Your resources are currently fully committed
but you are confident you can sub-contract to
an associate to deliver. However the sub-
contractors are on holiday and cannot be
contacted within 48 hours. What would you
Profiting from Good Practice

Take an ethical approach at all times

 Encouraging Clients to evaluate and
measure the benefits of any work
conducted by Consultants;
 Agree from outset to share any IPR;
 Protect personal methods but
transfer Knowledge; and
 Leave the business change
successfully embedded.
End of Session 1

Many thanks for listening to the

presentation –

Please take a break if you wish …

Session 2

 Introducing the BCS Ethics Forum

Minimising ethical dilemmas
- ethics in practice

Dr. Penny Duquenoy

Manager, BCS Ethics Forum
(Business) Ethics and personal values

Revisiting examples (session 1)

Values from business ethics:
 integrity, honesty, quality, loyalty

 Professionalism, responsibility

 Mutual respect, fairness and meritocracy

 Leadership, responsibility

 Client focus and teamwork

 Add ………………… ? ?
Big business and values …
Example: 3i Group plc
(world leader in private equity and venture capital)

 Core values:
 “We believe that the highest standard of integrity
is essential in business. In all our activities, we
aim to:
 Be commercial and fair
 Respect the needs of our shareholders, our staff,
our suppliers, the local community and the
businesses in which we invest;
 Maintain our integrity and professionalism; and
strive for continual improvement and innovation
Benefits of ‘being good’

The ‘benefits of ‘being good’ are:

 - building trust and confidence

 - setting your standards
 - reducing 'dilemma opportunities'
Resolving dilemmas

 resolving the dilemmas - practical

 Working through case studies,
understanding points of conflict,
and clarifying priorities
 Determining your ethical position
Sample: BCS Code of Conduct
 The public interest
 E.g. legitimate rights of third parties
 Duty to relevant authority
 E.g. conflicts of interest
 Duty to the profession
 E.g. encourage, support, act with integrity
 Professional competence and integrity – e.g.
 am I familiar with the technology involved, or
have I worked with similar technology before?
 have I successfully completed similar assignments
or roles in the past?
 can I demonstrate adequate knowledge of the
specific business application and requirements
successfully to undertake the work?
Sample code of good practice
BCS Code of Good Practice

 Maintain Your Technical Competence

 Adhere to Regulations
 Act Professionally as a Specialist
 Use Appropriate Methods and Tools
 Participate Maturely
 Respect the Interests of your Customers
 Promote Good Practices within the Organisation
 Represent the Profession to the Public

Available from the BCS website: