Ethics is at the heart of the professions, including my own industry body; the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). All who aspire to become a chartered surveyor must satisfy assessors that they have a grasp and understanding of ethics and in particular how it is to be applied.
For example, as an organisation created by Royal Charter, the RICS is obliged to act in the public’s interest. Similarly, members of the RICS – chartered surveyors – must act in the best interests of their client and above personal and financial benefit. At its basics, acting ethically instils trust and confidence in the people with who we do business with.
There are five ethical standards required of a chartered surveyor which govern members:
Be honest and straightforward in all that you do.
Always ensure your client, or others to whom you have a professional responsibility, receive the best possible advice, support or performance of the terms of engagement you have agreed to.
Act in a manner, both in your professional life and private life, to promote you, your firm or the organisation you work for in a professional and positive way.
Treat everyone with courtesy, politeness and respect and consider cultural sensitivities and business practices.
Be accountable for your actions – don’t blame others if things go wrong, and if you suspect something isn’t right, be prepared to take action.
These standards apply globally and hold chartered surveyors who operate in different countries with different cultures in good stead.
Closer to home, these ethical ways of working, sharing resources and helping young people and new enterprises are at the heart of how we operate in the region, but they are under pressure as austerity continues. This has been the subject of debate by Newcastle City Centre Chaplaincy, which I chair, and we have sought to raise awareness of the issues and challenges that have arisen over the last few years as the economic recession has taken its toll.
It will come as no surprise that I support a new initiative; The North East Institute of Business Ethics (NIBE). The brainchild of Newcastle City Centre chaplain, Canon Glyn Evans, who has brought together individuals and companies across the region committed to making a difference. Supported by the region’s universities, organisations including the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and business leaders, NIBE aims to put high standards of business behaviour based on ethical values back on the corporate agenda.
This can start with the simple steps of paying bills on time. I have often seen a client under stress because the debtors’ profile of unpaid invoices has extended from 30 days to 90 days on average. Just the simple act of paying on time will accelerate business activity in the region.
:: Kevan Carrick is a partner at JK Property Consultants LLP, the policy spokesman for RICS North East, and member of both G9 and the NELEP Investment Fund Panel.