Exceptional leadership goes beyond personal attributes. It demands strict adherence to specific values in a particular field. So, it is the case for project management. Understanding what vital ethics/ values are and how to apply them is critical to excelling in project management. Review the following key values published by the PMI (Project Management Institute) in the form of the PMI Code of Ethics for fellow practitioners in the global project management community and learn how to integrate them into your upcoming projects. 

What Is Ethics in Project Management?

Ethics in project management are certain beliefs about what is morally acceptable or appropriate. It comprises the values of responsibility, honesty, respect and fairness. These four core values are central to the project management profession and must be adhered to by project management professionals. The Project Management Institute, or PMI, has set forth a proper Code of Ethics to ensure the decision-making process is honorable. Additionally, it fosters a collaborative environment wherein choices are made keeping in view the interests of all parties rather than individual preferences. 

Why Is Ethics Important in Project Management?

Following ethical standards help prevent conflict between leaders and their team members. It enables everyone to put the organization's and stakeholders' best interests first. The closer you adhere to the ideals/ethics set out by PMI, the greater the sense of unity among team members. With an undivided approach, any organization will likely land higher rates of successful projects. 

PMI Code of Ethics

The PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct describes a set of guidelines developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This Code stands on four strong pillars that ensure a considerable reduction in risk and an increment in the chance of positive results. When followed, it helps build trust among team members and determines long-term project success. 

People to whom the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct applies: 

  • All PMI members
  • All PMI non-members who meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • Non-members who hold a PMI certification
    • Non-members who are a part of PMI in a volunteer capacity
    • Non-members who plan to begin a PMI certification process and apply for the same

Additionally, these ethics must be put into practice by every project management professional who aspires to achieve better results. 

Four Core Values of Project Managers

The ethics in project management are the foundation of the Code, and PMI lists mandatory and aspirational standards for each. While the aspirational standards specify the conduct that every project manager must strive to uphold, the mandatory standards define firm requirements that, in certain cases, can limit practitioner behavior.

PMI recognizes four core values that project managers across the globe must exhibit: fairness, responsibility, respect, and honesty. 


The primary responsibilities of project managers who are a part of the PMI community are as follows:

  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Complying with laws and regulations
  • Acting consistently with policies/ procedures
  • Make decisions and conduct oneself with actions that take ownership of decisions


Respect is not just limited to treating others with dignity; it also takes self-respect into account. Project managers' responsibilities often revolve around other individuals, their well-being, and finances. 

Furthermore, respectful behavior requires professionals to promote diversity and the mutual sharing of ideas. The high standards include extending respect to the other person/ groups even when they do not return the same. PMs must face conflict directly in the face instead of hunting for an escape. 


Objectively making decisions is a prerequisite of this profession. Fairness refers to being non-discriminatory and non-abusive in addition to demonstrating transparency or clear and open communication. It is one of the most important ethics in project management as it promotes trust. Project management transparency can include status reports, catch-up meetings, and clear meeting minutes. It also incorporates efforts that assist team members in identifying and anticipating situations that might be against the professional Code. Moreover, while practicing fairness, it is important to confront coworkers when they demonstrate any unethical behavior. 


Honesty implies acknowledging and conducting yourself truthfully. It includes being genuine in both verbal and written communications. For instance, project management professionals must provide accurate information, make commitments with the intent of meeting them, and be courageous enough to conduct conversations that might not be received well. 

As a project manager, you must avoid blaming team members or co-managers. It also requires you to base your decisions on reliable and accurate information. Avoid taking credit for a job well performed by others.  

Tips for Integrating Ethics Into Your Projects

Integrating ethics into your daily project management approach can be challenging. However, apply the following tips to ensure fairness and other values in any project management field:  

Adopt Freshly Created Assets

If you transition to a new company in project management, you are likely to be used to the set of templates or practices applicable at your previous workplace. Although the familiarity with the efficient system you must have used previously would tempt you to adopt the same, you must avoid reusing the templates from an old workplace for new beginnings. 

This tip helps maintain the core values because it is important for a project management professional to realize that their previous company worked hard to formulate practices that set them apart from the competition. So, you must only carry forward the experience gained from your previous workplace and strive to develop new working templates for your upcoming assignments. 

Be Transparent 

It is important to be transparent whenever a conflict of interest occurs in a professional environment. This practice helps avoid making self-serving decisions. Also, if somebody or a company you have invested in pitches your workplace, it is your ethical responsibility to separate yourself from the decision-making process. You must inform your superiors of the situation.

Provide Complete Disclosure

It is mandatory for every professional to give complete, accurate information about a conversation with a colleague or client. When project managers try to manipulate information about the real status of a project, it is dishonesty. You owe your team, stakeholders, seniors, and clients full disclosure when they enquire about something relevant or the progress of a project.  

Revealing partial or no information and incorrect information goes against the PMI Code of Ethics.

Stand-up for What's Right

Leadership demands the courage to speak up. In the project management field, it is your ethical duty to stand against issues and advocate what's right. You must address anything inappropriate in the workplace, such as insulting language, harassment, or unethical decision-making. You must stand for a situation, even when it gets difficult or inconvenient. Abiding by the PMI Code of Ethics in project management is not always easy. However, it is critical for project managers.

Pay Everyone's Due 

In modern workplaces, ethical issues often center around equitable pay. Conforming to ethical standards requires you to ensure that every team member is granted fair compensation for their work. People engaged in a similar type of work should receive the same compensation. However, considering their experience level and the value they bring to the team is important. Additionally, project managers must understand that asking their team for favors that fall under free work is an unethical practice that often remains unaddressed.

Get Rid of Personal Bias

As a project manager, the importance of ethics relates to equitable behavior with your team members. You must remove personal bias from your management style. You cannot play the game of favorites, such as who is more friendly. Ethical choices are ruined when personal preferences step in. You can praise a team member for their exceptional performance or when their ethics in project management sets them apart as an example for others. 

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1. What is an example of a Code of Ethics?

An organization's Confidentiality and Privacy policy is a commonly observed example of Code of Ethics. It implies that the organization has an obligation to safeguard every member's personal information and not disclose it to an outsider without the permission of the individual.

2. What is the importance of fairness in project management?

Fairness is one of the primary constituents of the PMI Code of Ethics in project management because it helps avoid the influence of personal bias in every decision-making process. Project managers who focus on process fairness instead of concentrating on a fair outcome gain reverence in the industry. Optimal fairness helps team members feel their voices are heard, their opinions respected, and they are treated at par with others. 

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