Social and ethical responsibility

Using knowledge for the good of society and making informed choices about actions, and a corresponding need to act. Is critical due to the ‘imbalance of power’ as a result of specialist knowledge and expertise.

  • 'For the good of society' feels like this is something that CIPD want to use as part of their mission/ business plan. If this is the case then I don't see anything wrong with this. It is however, a little more difficult to achieve this if we are talking about an individual professional being responsible for society at large

  • One example we picked our in our report was engineers who have a responsibility to reject an unsafe project, even if the business deems it cost-effective. Similarly, psychologists are obliged to break the rule of confidentiality if they are concerned that their patient may harm themselves or others.

    More info on it on page 9 here -

  • Our role is not to act for the good of society but, simplistically, for the good of the company.  How do we know what is "good for society"?  There's a real danger in seeing this as part of our mission as notions of "good for society" are going to differ from individual to individual and will be influenced by numerous factors such as political viewpoint, cultural norms, religious beliefs, etc.

  • I think this idea needs to be a lot more clearly developed. As Aidan says we have a lot of different views about what is "ethical" -  but his point about acting solely for the "good of the company" I don't agree with (Angelo's example of engineers being a case in point).

  • I agree with the sense of acting in the public interest, but (to pick up Aidan's point) not attempting to judge what is 'for the good of society' in every decision.  Public interest means not only not acting illegally, but also acting within the spirit of the law and in a way that does not cause avoidable harm (an example might be that while it is necessary to make redundancies, the way this is done does not aggravate the impact on those being made redundant).  

  • This is the key one for me - professionals have to have a remit that extends beyond just making money (for their firms or themselves) - see Friedson (2011): An ideology that asserts greater commitment to doing good work than to economic gain and the quality rather than the economic efficiency of work - also this blog post

  • I share Jon's view.  We shouldn't be de-coupled from society at large given that much of what we do has a direct or indirect impact on it - examples given already refer.  For me, this makes us the real deal when considering the definition of 'professionalism' discussed earlier.