History of this Standard

PMI’s vision of project management as an independent profession drove our early work in ethics. In 1981, the PMI Board of Directors formed an Ethics, Standards and Accreditation Group. One task required the group to

deliberate on the need for a code of ethics for the profession. The team’s report contained the first documented PMI discussion of ethics for the project management profession. This report was submitted to the PMI Board of Directors in August 1982 and published as a supplement to the August 1983 Project Management Quarterly.

In the late 1980’s, this standard evolved to become the Ethics Standard for the Project Management Professional (PMP®). In 1997, the PMI Board determined the need for a member code of ethics. The PMI Board formed the Ethics Policy Documentation Committee to draft and publish an ethics standard for PMI’s membership. The Board approved the new Member Code of Ethics in October 1998. This was followed by Board approval of the Member Case Procedures in January 1999, which provided a process for the submission of an ethics complaint and a determination as to whether a violation had occurred.

Since the 1998 Code was adopted, many dramatic changes have occurred within PMI and the business world. PMI membership has grown significantly. A great deal of growth has also occurred in regions outside North America. In the business world, ethics scandals have caused the downfall of global corporations and non-profits, causing public outrage and sparking increased government regulations. Globalization has brought economies closer together but has caused a realization that our practice of ethics may differ from culture to culture. The rapid, continuing pace of technological change has provided new opportunities, but has also introduced new challenges, including new ethical dilemmas.

For these reasons, in 2003 the PMI Board of Directors called for the reexamination of our codes of ethics. In 2004, the PMI Board commissioned the Ethics Standards Review Committee [ESRC] to review the codes of ethics and develop a process for revising the codes. The ESRC developed processes that would encourage active participation by the global project management community. In 2005, the PMI Board approved the processes for revising the code, agreeing that global participation by the project management community was paramount. In 2005, the Board also commissioned the Ethics Standards Development Committee to carry out the Board-approved process and deliver the revised code by the end of 2006. This Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct was approved by the PMI Board of Directors in October 2006.

Process Used to Create This Standard

The first step by the Ethics Standards Development Committee [ESDC] in the development of this Code was to understand the ethical issues facing the project management community and to understand the values and

viewpoints of practitioners from all regions of the globe. This was accomplished by a variety of mechanisms including focus group discussions and two internet surveys involving practitioners, members, volunteers, and people holding

a PMI certification. Additionally, the team analyzed the ethics codes of 24 non-profit associations from various regions of the world, researched best practices in the development of ethics standards, and explored the ethics- related tenets of PMI’s strategic plan.

This extensive research conducted by the ESDC provided the backdrop for developing the exposure draft of the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The exposure draft was circulated to the global project management community for comment. The rigorous, standards development processes established by the American National Standards Institute were followed during the development of the Code because these processes were used for

PMI technical standard development projects and were deemed to represent the best practices for obtaining and adjudicating stakeholder feedback to the exposure draft.

The result of this effort is a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct that not only describes the ethical values to which the global project management community aspires, but also addresses the specific conduct that is

mandatory for every individual bound by this Code. Violations of the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct may result in sanctions by PMI under the ethics Case Procedures.

The ESDC learned that as practitioners of project management, our community takes its commitment to ethics very seriously and we hold ourselves and our peers in the global project management community accountable to conduct ourselves in accordance with the provisions of this Code.


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Project Management Basics Copyright © by Sharon Blanchard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.