The Bold Faced Blog™

July 09, 2013

Do the Right Thing

Posted 5 years 225 days ago by Mary Ann Munro

Edward Snowden is all over the news right now. The former contract employee with Booz Allen Hamilton signed up for a project with the NSA and subsequently revealed confidential information. As the facts unfold, we’re finding out more and while I don’t want to comment specifically on Snowden’s actions, it did get me thinking about the ethics of consulting in a more general sense.

Typically consultants will sign Non-Disclosure or Non-Compete agreements that legally bind them from sharing material without authorization or simultaneously working on projects for competing companies. It’s rare for a consultant to have a problem with this kind of standard business contractual agreement, but is there more to ethical behavior than abiding by what you are legally required to do?

At Ashton212, we’re very clear about our values and what they mean in terms of how we treat each other, our clients and our Associates.  We value:

  • Open and clear communication
  • Integrity shown by behavior exemplifying positive intent
  • Collaboration that maximizes individual contributions and generates accountability
  • Inclusivity that creates a true 360° perspective
  • Looking beyond what is for what’s possible 
  • Will do attitude that gets things done
  • Commitment to positive social impact


Trying to act in accordance with those values might not always be the easy thing, but it’s what makes us who we are. While not every consultant will go so far as to have an actual code of ethics like this pinned to their noticeboard, most will have some guiding principles that shape their practice and their relationships with clients.

For instance, committing to honesty in all your dealings can mean that you don’t overpromise, you don’t give unfounded advice that goes beyond the limits of your expertise, and you speak the truth even when the client may want to hear a different answer. Or maybe you value respect and demonstrate it by always being mindful of your client’s best interests but also keeping in mind the worth and importance of your own work and what you can bring to the table.

Once you start thinking about ethics rather than mere compliance with a legal requirement, it becomes a cornerstone of how you present yourself and do business. It can also shape your response to offers of consulting work and your expectations for working relationships.

Has this been your experience? How do ethics and values playout in your consulting practice?  We’d love to hear more about the role that values play in the work that you do.

Tags: consultants ethics

Categories: categoryConsulting


  • email:chamaine@woffard.com
    chamaine 5 years 222 days ago
    How I handle ethical issues is always a source of concern for my clients. I assure them that I do not discuss their jobs and I often sign NDAs. I believe consultants must establish a sense of trust to be successful.

  • email:lynne.d.leaf@gmail.com
    Lynne Leaf 5 years 223 days ago
    I agree 100%. Thoughtful, current and poignant in today's business world and in the way we live our lives. Thank you.


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