The Fifth Aspirational Responsibility Standard in the PMI Code of Ethics

Posted on February 23, 2010 by


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In the course of your work, you may deal with proprietary or confidential information. This could be your organization’s information or that of a client or business partner. We are now living in the Information Age and certain knowledge can be extremely valuable. A small bit of knowledge may be all that separates one organization from their competitors.

“2.2.5 We protect proprietary or confidential information that has been entrusted to us” is the fifth aspirational Honesty standard from the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. I am often surprised at how poorly valuable information is protected and how many people often have access to information that they really do not need to have. Any victim of identity theft can attest to the problems that can occur when a few pieces of information are stolen such as a credit card or social security number.

How should we apply this Code of Ethics? When in possession of proprietary or confidential information, before sharing that information one should make sure that the other person is privy to it. Also, one should not be careless. For instance, you may have sensitive information on your laptop that you carry around so you must be careful about guarding it. The password you use to access work-related information should be difficult to crack. Perhaps careless talking is the easiest way to spread information that should be kept secret. As the WWII slogan says “loose lips sink ships.” With the realization of how valuable certain information is and what harm could happen if it falls into the wrong hands, it becomes natural to behave in ways that protect it.

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