HR Pros Set Ethical Compass

June 26, 2001 ( - The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) today unveiled its new Code of Ethics, offering HR pros a standard for professional conduct.

SHRM’s original Code of Ethics was developed in 1972 and was last modified in 1989 to reflect the Society’s name change from the American Society for Personnel Administration.

The Code

The new code was written entirely by SHRM members and volunteer leaders with the assistance of the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) of Washington, D.C., and SHRM staff. That code emphasizes six core principles:

  • Professional responsibility  – to add value to their employer, and to accept professional responsibility for their individual decisions
  • Professional development  – strive to meet the highest standards of competence and commit to strengthen those competencies on a continuous basis
  • Ethical leadership  – to exhibit individual leadership as a role model for maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct
  • Fairness and justice  – to promote and foster fairness and justice for all employees and their organizations
  • Conflicts of interest  – to avoid engaging in activities that create actual, apparent or potential conflicts of interest
  • Use of information  – to consider and protect the rights of individuals, particularly in the acquisition and dissemination of information while ensuring truthful communications and facilitating informed decision-making

Hundreds of members, representing a cross-section of HR practitioners, shared in the process through focus groups and individual interviews. Members were also encouraged to provide feedback on code drafts.

SHRM officials said the new behavior code is part of their group’s sweeping ethics initiative.

The Code will be available in various formats including a CD-ROM and Palm Pilot versions.

The full text of the SHRM ethical code