Code of ethics and professional conduct

Deep C is committed to maintaining and promoting excellence in its work with clients.  Our Code Of Ethics and Professional Conduct ensures that every member of the company will understand and follow best practice in those situations where ethical or conflict of interest challenges could arise.

Our staff will already be compliant with the ethical codes of various professional bodies, such as The British Psychological Society (BPS), the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) and The International Coach Federation (ICF).  The Deep C Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is designed to complement these profession-specific codes of practice.

Specifically, the purpose of our Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is to:

  • Provide appropriate guidelines and standards of conduct for our staff, to aid their decision-making when working with clients
  • Confirm expectations in terms of competence to practice and continuing professional development
  • Provide the criteria for any complaint regarding the ethical standards or professional conduct of staff.

In the interest of brevity, we refer below where appropriate to:

  • ‘This Code’ to mean the Deep C Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
  • ‘Clients’ to mean individuals, teams and client organisations, unless there is a need to distinguish between:
    • Client ‘members’ e.g. coachees, interviewees, focus group participants, leadership programme participants etc. and:
    • Client ‘sponsors’ e.g. line managers of coachees, budget holders and service commissioners, HR representatives etc.
  • ‘Our services’ to mean executive 1:1 and team coaching, organisational consulting, facilitation and training
  • ‘Staff’ to mean employed, contract and advisory Deep C personnel.

The Code
The Code is made up of five aspirational general principles, representing ethical goals, each supported by behavioural standards

Code of ethics

On their own, the five ethical principles do not explicitly inform or instruct adherence to the ethical goals.  Instead, they serve as a framework to influence and guide the approach of our staff when working with clients. 

Conversely, the behavioural standards provide a clear and unequivocal benchmark as to how our staff are expected to perform their duties on behalf of clients.  When delivering services to clients in any capacity, our staff will conduct themselves in accordance with these standards.  They will behave at all times in a manner which reflects positively upon and enhances the longer-term reputation of both Deep C and its clients.

Ethical Principle 1: Acting With Integrity
Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.  Acting with integrity includes being honest, truthful, accurate and consistent in one’s actions, words, decisions, methods and outcomes. 

In their work with clients, our staff will:

  • Avoid exploiting a client or seek to gain any form of inappropriate financial or non-financial advantage from a client relationship
  • Accurately and honestly represent their relevant professional qualifications, skills, experience and accreditations
  • Accurately and honestly represent the value to the client from our services, exercising appropriate caution in making evidence-based claims
  • Attribute ownership of work and intellectual property to its originators and not claim it as their own
  • Be alert to actual or potential conflicts of interest and offer to remove themselves when a conflict arises, if it cannot be managed effectively
  • Consider the impact of any client relationship on other client relationships, explicitly addressing any potential conflict of interest
  • Ensure that the duration of a contract is appropriate to achieve a client’s stated goals.

Ethical Principle 2: Respect
Respect for others is one of the most fundamental and universal ethical principles that transcends geographical, cultural and professional boundaries.  Respect recognises the inherent worth of all people, regardless of perceived or real differences in social status, gender, ethnic origin, capacities or any other group-based characteristics. 

In their work with clients, our staff will:

  • Value the dignity and worth of all individuals and take a respectful and inclusive approach towards them
  • Embrace and explore individual difference and supportively challenge discriminatory behaviour
  • Avoid knowingly discriminating on any grounds, while seeking to enhance their personal awareness of possible unconscious bias and discrimination
  • Support and comply with client policies that aim to protect fairness, diversity and the avoidance of discrimination amongst employees
  • Be respectful of and actively promote a client’s independence and self-reliance
  • Set and maintain clear and appropriate boundaries that govern all physical and virtual interactions with client members and sponsors
  • Avoid romantic intimacy or any sexual relationship with current client members or sponsors.

Ethical Principle 3: Responsibility and Accountability

Responsibility is an ethical concept which recognises that individuals and groups have morally based obligations and duties to others and to ethical and moral codes, standards, and traditions.   Awareness of such responsibility ensures that the trust of others is not abused, that power and influence is properly managed and that a duty of care towards others is always paramount.  Our staff value their responsibilities to clients, to Deep C – as well as those to their profession.

In their work with clients, our staff will:

  • Behave in accordance with this Code at all times, using their knowledge, skills, power and influence within the client system responsibly
  • Observe their responsibility and duty of care to client members for whom they provide professional support in delivering our services
  • Effectively contract with all relevant parties involved in the delivery of our services to manage mutual expectations and how these will be met
  • Maintain the strictest level of privacy and confidentiality with all client information unless release of that information is required by law
  • Seek clear agreement about the conditions under which confidentiality will not be maintained (e.g. illegal activity, danger to self or others)
  • Obtain written permission from any client or prospective client before releasing their names as referees/testimonials
  • Inform clients that they are receiving supervision and identify if the client may be referred to anonymously in this context.

Accountability on the other hand, is the readiness or preparedness to give an explanation or justification to clients, colleagues and other professionals for one’s judgments, intentions and actions.  It is a readiness to have one’s actions judged by others and, where appropriate, to accept responsibility for showing poor judgement, making errors and the consequences of our actions.

In their work with clients, our staff will:

  • Proactively seek formal and informal feedback from clients regarding their performance and impact 
  • Put self-interest aside and be open and objective to having their work products and professional behaviour challenged
  • Face up to situations where they have made a mistake, error of judgement or demonstrated an unintended action, not hiding from the consequences
  • Be proactive in taking steps to understand how and why such an unintended outcome occurred
  • Take corrective action to remedy mistakes for which they are held accountable
  • Agree and implement suitable actions to prevent a reoccurrence of a mistake for which they are held accountable
  • Confirm and make explicit the responsibilities and accountabilities of all those involved in a client assignment and the delivery of our services.

Ethical Principle 4: Competence
In the context of this Code, ‘competence’ refers to the experience, knowledge, ability, attitude and behaviour of our staff. 

In their work with clients, our staff will:

  • Be fit and healthy enough to practice.  If they are not, or they are unsure about practising safely, they will seek professional guidance or support
  • Possess and maintain appropriate skills, knowledge and experience to serve clients’ needs, evidencing continuing professional development
  • Work within the recognised limits of their knowledge, skill, training and experience
  • Take appropriate or mitigating action in any situation that is likely to force them to operate outside their sphere of competence
  • Encourage a client to terminate an assignment if they would be better served by another provider or a different form of professional support
  • Make contributions to the professional community that is appropriate to their level of expertise 
  • Engage where necessary and appropriate in supervision with a suitably qualified supervisor or peer supervision group.

Ethical Principle 5: Compliance With Legal and Statutory Obligations
Our staff are expected to use sound judgment and common sense to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations in the jurisdiction in which they are operating.  They will not in any way encourage, assist or collude with conduct which is dishonest, unlawful, unprofessional or discriminatory.

In their work with clients, our staff will:

  • Stay up to date and comply with all relevant legal and statutory requirements affecting their work
  • Respect all copyrights, agreements, work, intellectual property and trademarks and comply with all laws covering such areas
  • Comply with both the spirit and the letter of any commercial agreements made with clients, prospective clients, sub-contractors and suppliers
  • Comply with any organisational policies and procedures (both the client’s and Deep C’s) that are relevant to the context in which they are working
  • Bring to the attention of appropriate parties (internally and externally) any conduct they witness that may be considered unlawful
  • Store and dispose of client records in a manner compliant with all relevant national laws and agreements regarding data protection and privacy
  • Have in place appropriate and valid professional indemnity insurance.

Last updated: April 2020