Without ethics, the construction industry cannot stand. With ethics, constructors have the ability to work together in a highly productive fashion to complete projects in a manner where everyone wins.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the industry is committed to ethical actions, behavior, and thinking in construction. Our goal at the American Institute of Constructors (AIC) is to change that by promoting the value of ethics to accelerate constructor excellence.
We believe it’s critical for constructors to review their ethical practices and consider implementing a standard code of ethics for construction companies. By adopting these best practices, companies can achieve greater results without causing harm to others.
What to Include a Standard Code of Ethics for Construction?
We have developed the AIC Code of Ethics for Constructors that we ask our members and certified professionals to follow. By having individuals and companies share a common ethical standard, the industry has the opportunity to deal fairly with each other when undertaking complex construction projects.
Our code of ethics includes the following 7 standards of professional conduct that we encourage your company to consider adopting into your practices.
1. Constructors shall have full regard for the public interest in fulfilling their responsibilities to the employer or client.
2. Constructor shall not engage in any deceptive practice, or in any practice which creates an unfair advantage for the Constructor or another.
3. Constructors shall not maliciously or recklessly injure or attempt to injure – whether directly or indirectly – the professional reputation of others.
4. Constructors shall ensure that when providing a service, which includes advice, such advice shall be fair and unbiased.
5. Constructors shall not divulge to any person, firm, or company, information of a confidential nature acquired during the course of professional activities.
6. Constructor shall carry out responsibilities in accordance with current professional practice, so far as it lies within his or her power.
7. Constructors shall keep informed of new thoughts and development in the construction process appropriate to the type and level of their responsibilities and shall support research and the educational processes associated with the construction profession.
This leads to some important questions. How can you implement this standard code of ethics in your company? How can you change behavior and thinking to ensure that each construction professional adheres to this code? How do you measure the effectiveness of this effort to implement standard practices? Let’s examine the implementation of these standards.
Adopting and Supporting the Code of Ethics in Construction
Simply asking individuals to adhere to a code of ethics is not enough to create positive change. It’s important to have a structured process to manage the implementation of ethical standards and continue to refine your company’s adherence to a standard code of ethics.
One of the most effective management tools to support this effort is the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. The PDCA cycle is used across many industries to manage change, track buy-in, and support continuous improvement.
For companies looking to implement ethical standards, consider how the PDCA cycle can effectively support this effort:
– Plan: Create a plan of action for implementing ethical standards. Consider the DNA of your company. What are you already doing well from an ethical perspective? Where do you have gaps? What is the state of your company culture? What is the nature of projects that you take on?
Understand the personality of your company so that you can identify a baseline starting point to implement standard best practices. Also, ensure that you have buy-in from management to support a top-down implementation approach. Otherwise, your initiative will fall flat.
– Do: Implement the standard code of ethics for construction. Follow through on the plan by explaining the value of these standards. Consider holding training or coaching sessions to explain why your company is adopting these standards or adding to your existing approach.
At this stage, it’s important to achieve buy-in from managers and professionals that are ultimately responsible for the execution of construction works.
– Check: At scheduled intervals, you should measure the progress of your efforts. Don’t let this turn into a “flavor of the month” initiative with no follow-up. Otherwise, personnel will revert to old habits or not take this seriously.
- Schedule regular check-ins to measure the progress of your planning and doing.
- Hold follow-up meetings with personnel to ask questions and gather feedback.
- Send out surveys asking employees if they have questions about certain standards.
- Allow employees to submit ethical concerns without risk of punitive action taken against them or another employee.
The goal is to establish dialogue and a safe environment for ethical situations to be discussed and reviewed. This way, employees become empowered to participate in a higher level of ethics in your company.
– Act: Many companies forget the final step of acting on what you checked! Feedback, survey responses, questions, and concerns should not end up in a black hole like an unmonitored inbox where there is no follow-up. Consider assigning a person to the responsibility of routing input to the appropriate people or teams in the company.
Then, managers should act on what was checked by continuing to refine processes and taking action to improve your company’s appreciation for ethical issues in construction. By creating a culture where ethics is important and treated like a significant part of the work to be done, then people will start to change their attitude, behavior, and thinking toward ethics.
– Continue to refine: The PDCA cycle does not stop at acting on the check! Companies should continue to run through the cycle to identify areas of improvement. Each incremental improvement could be the difference between someone making a poor decision versus making the right decision that supports the overall well-being of the company.
By supporting continuous improvement, you can realize tremendous growth in the area of ethics that supports the overall construction industry.
Join AIC to Learn More About the Standard Code of Ethics
At AIC, we support our members by continuing to promote ethics and reinforce the value of ethics in the construction industry. We offer members these opportunities to take an active role in supporting construction ethics:
- Participate in the process of developing quality standards of practice.
- Exchange ideas regarding ethics to refine each of our attitudes and thinking.
- Leadership opportunities to establish and maintain high ethical standards.
- Mentorship, coaching, and judging opportunities in our Collegiate Ethics Competition to support the next generation of constructors.
- An environment to enhance the overall standing of the construction profession.
If ethics is important to you and your company, then join AIC. We can also further provide you with further guidance on how to implement a standard code of ethics for construction companies. Together, we have the opportunity to elevate the industry by promoting a higher level of ethics.