Ethics Corner

Who defines what’s ethical: you or your client? Recently I saw on LinkedIn a post by the Bucharest office of a fairly well-known consulting company. Basically it said, “We’ve just won such-and-such a contract. If you’re interested in any of the key roles, apply to the following email address”. This set me thinking. At the time of tendering for the contract, the successful bidder had (one assumes) had no particular individuals in mind for the key roles, nor had the client required these to be specified. Yet the company had also undertaken to deliver the required scope of work and (again one assumed) the client had sufficient faith in this to award the contract. Among my 1000+ network of LinkedIn contacts, a not insignificant number were of the view that because the client didn’t ask for the information, there was nothing unethical in the bidder failing to provide it – or is there? My take on it is this: if you’re tendering for something that requires certain skills that at the time of tendering you have no absolute assurance of being able to procure, then from an ethical point of view you have only two options. The first option is obviously to secure the skills and provide objectively verifiable evidence of this in your tender. The second option is to state up-front in the tender that you will endeavour to procure the necessary skills upon award of contract and that delivery of the contract is contingent upon this. Ultimately it is up to you, but the moral is this: don’t rely on your client to define what is or is not ethical. ‘Ethical’ is what you are and do … and only you can define that.

Stuart Brown BSc MCIWEM C.WEM
SB VisionConsult Limited
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