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Project Management Institute – Code of Ethics



Following corporate ethos is one of the levers to run business successfully. Being ethical both by the organization and by an individual is necessary. In practice, there are three levels of ethical code being followed: a) Code of Business ethics b) Code of Conduct for employees c) Codes of Professional Practice.

As practitioners of Project Management, Project Management Institute (PMI) mandates following Codes of Professional Practice. For PMP examination, conducted by PMI Institute, around 10% of questions would cover Professional responsibility area. This is not part of PMBOK, rather detailed out in a separate document known as Project Management Institute Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.


The objective of this code is to instill confidence, help the individual to become a better practitioner. As a professional practitioner being credible, maintaining values or integrity will help while taking decisions.

The values that form the basis for the code of ethics are: hygiene: responsibility, respect, fairness, and honesty.

In order to gain better grasp on the topic, multiple personas will be introduced.


Scene 1 Act 1:

Sam is PMI certified Project Management Professional. He conducts training for many aspirants. Freddy is PMP aspirant and enrolls with the institute.

Act 2:

The class starts with detailing the purpose of code of ethics as PMI prescribes. During the session, Freddy started posing certain questions.  Let sit back and run through the conversation.

Freddy: Sam, I did not understand the concept of ethics. Can you please summarize?

Sam: Okay, Freddy. PMI mandates to inculcate good habits like committing to do the work assigned which is right and honorable. By meeting high standards, it will be applicable in all aspects of our lives – at home, at work, and at service.

Freddy: That’s sounds interesting. Does this mean that I should be a PMI member to follow these ethics?

Sam: Freddy, it is not like that. The code of ethics applies to the following individuals:

  1. 1.      All PMI Members
  2. 2.      Individuals who are not PMI Members of PMI but meet one or more of the following criteria:
    1. a.       Non-Members who hold PMI Certification
    2. b.       Non-Members who apply to commence a PMI certification process
    3. c.       Non-Members who serve PMI in a volunteer capacity

 Freddy: Can I say that these are like commandments?

Sam: Not exactly. Treating these as principles will be apt.

Sam: PMI prepares candidates to deal with the following:

  1. To be responsible
  2. To show respect
  3. To be fair
  4. To be Honest

Freddy: Well, these are the values to be built-in by practitioners which will help while servicing clients but also can be a role model at home as well.

Sam: You are on track, my dear!

Freddy: I take the point now. I know it will be difficult to follow all these immediately. But for sure will in future.

Sam: That’s good to hear.

Freddy: I would like to know more about these values. Can you please describe better on what PMI says.

Sam: Yes, I will for sure. Please do listen carefully.

Sam: Regarding first point on “Being responsible”. As a practitioner, we are responsible for the actions we take and for the actions which we failed to take. We always take actions in the best interest of society, public safety and environment. When we discover any errors or omissions, we communicate to the appropriate body and accept accountability from any issues resulting from our errors.

We will always be in abreast with rules and regulations, policies that govern our work. We will not engage in any unethical or illegal activities. We will also report to PMI if any of the members does not follow the code of ethics.

Sam: Freddy, did you understand? If not, we could run through some case studies to better understand.

Freddy: I am clear but would be great if you could throw out some cases as well.

Sam: Okay, I am glad that you raised this.

Sam: Last year Angel and Vikram were in China for project implementation. The customer was really happy with their performance. Customer called me and said, I would load a gift card for USD 250 for you. Do share with me the shipping address.

Let me know, Freddy what I should have done?

Freddy: Personally speaking, I do not find any problem as such because it’s a good deal. But from PMI perspective, you should not accept any gift from the Customer.

Sam: Good job, Freddy. That’s correct. Performing job successfully is the most important goal than getting any goodies. You understood it better.

Sam: Here is the second one.

Sam: Vikram was in France for knowledge transfer. He purchased calling card to speak to his family in India. He tried calling the number mentioned in the card. But it was not working and he was quite disturbed. His client asked Vikram the reason behind. Client was happy seeing Vikram performing good in his job. So he said, he will approve those bills without calling card even though company policy does not allow doing so.

What’s your opinion, Freddy?

Freddy: Allowing Vikram to claim the bills is against the policy of the company. Hence, he should avoid accepting the offer made by the Client.

Sam: Bingo!  Let us go on to the next topic.

Sam: The second point is about “Respect”. It is our duty to show Respect to ourselves, others and to the resources entrusted to us like people, money, reputation, safety of others, natural and environmental.

One should not act in an abusive manner, respect property rights, should not influence position, etc.

Sam: Let’s see the case here: I have a project which requires a licensed version of application. One of my colleagues does have the application and he said he will not share the same because of lack of license. I know his boss very well because we both lunch together. I just dropped a word that I will grabbing the CD and will install the same for the benefit of the organization.

Freddy: Sorry to interrupt. I understood the case better. There are multiple scenarios which is getting affected: a) Respect b) using position to favor c) Installation without license

That’s bad Sam. I trust you are not like this in real world.

Sam: It’s just a case study, dude.

Sam: The next value we should be discussing will be Fairness.

Sam: This is pretty straightforward topic. To be fair enough during tenure and be loyal to the employer is what is expected. One should never be biased, identify potential conflict of interest during tenure.

Sam: One of the case which I could think of for this situation:

For my project there is resource ramp up required. One of my close friend’s acquaintance is in need of job but does not have the right qualification. I was told to just conduct an interview for the sake and induct him.

What’s your take for this situation, Freddy?

Freddy: Will you recommend me as well, Sam? Just kidding…. Well, I understood your point. This will lead to conflict of interest and should not recommend unless the person is qualified for the position – irrespective.

Sam: Let us go on to the next topic – Honesty.

Sam: The last point is about “Honesty”. To be honest and act in truthful manner is our duty. It is applicable while we communicate and in our conduct. We should provide accurate information in timely manner, and create an environment where others feel to speak truth.

Sam: This is the final case.

Sam: It was in the month of Jan last year that I was involved in a project. The earlier project manager resigned and I had to take over the project. During hand-over, I understood that the status which was shared with the stakeholders and the reality is not matching. When asked with the existing project manager, he highlighted that as long as we are delivering and meeting timelines, one should not worry about information distribution and my project is always green.

Sam: Freddy, what should have I done, now?

Freddy: That’s very sad. Any employee for that matter should be committed to his role and responsibilities. To what I understand from PMI ethics, I feel that you should conduct an audit, re-baseline the data, and share the details to the stakeholders. This is the primary duty – being honest.

Sam: Good Work, Freddy. You should understand that being ethical is important. To download the document click here.  Go ahead and start taking the tests and let me know how you scored.

All the best!

Freddy: Thank you for the case studies. It was really wonderful.

Following corporate ethos is one of the levers to run business successfully. Being ethical both by the organization and by an individual is necessary.

Vasudev Narayananan,PMP

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