What is the significance of professional code of conduct?

The word ‘profession’ refers to limited groups of persons who have acquired some special skills and are therefore able to perform the function relating to that field better than any other person. Since 1819 business and professional troops in America have adopted a code of ethics which has come to be known as professional ethics. With the modernization of societies, division of labour became more and more necessary for the purpose of proper administration of society. With acute division of labour, specialization in a particular field became very important and with this professional ethics gained importance.

A profession includes the acceptance of the service motive. The professionals are supposed to function in the interest of the society. The professional ideal calls upon the individual person to render his service in order to receive compensation for the purpose of advancing public interest. For eg. When a physician is consulted his first concern is not what he is going to get but how he is going to get but how he is going to help the person in order to improve his health. In a profession the services are usually of a qualitative nature. Private interest is to be promoted only as for as it advances public interest.

The principles upon which the charges/remuneration is based vary from profession to profession. In a few professions like teaching and the ministry a regular salary is agreed upon before the work begins. In other cases the professional may consider his own standing and prestige and the financial standing of his patients or clients before adjusting his fees. In certain other professions fees may be figured as the percentage of the cast of work. For example in the case of architects and salesman a percentage of the cost of work is received as remuneration.

The need to provide enforced professional or vocational codes is due to the following reasons:-

1. The professional codes very clearly guide the individuals with respect to the relationship that should exist between the new entrants in the profession and the old hands. There is always a need to learn the skills and techniques of the profession from those who are mature and good in their respective fields. Professional ethics acts as a measure of social control over the relations that exist between the juniors and seniors in the profession.

2. It helps to maintain cordial relations amongst the members of the profession as well as those of the other professions so that there is no mudslinging or under cutting within. This is because some professionals consider themselves superior to the others in the same line resulting in a set of friction amongst the professionals. This vitiates the atmosphere in which the aims of the profession gets side tracked in the guise for personal rivalry. Codes of conduct stipulate the principles for each profession so that competition is kept healthy man enough for each one to perform his best.

3. A public display of arrogance, hypocrisy or lack of discipline on the part of a profession is bound to shake the ordinary man’s confidence in a particular profession. Clauses of penalty in the code of conduct help to regulate the behaviour of the professionals. Discontinuation of the professional membership are ways of restoring public confidence in the profession.

4. In all the fields of activity there is a need to fix standards or evolve qualifying criteria for any individual to be admitted to a profession. This normally is done by the senior professionals or by the government. It is the professional bodies which have the onus of preparing modalities of applying these standards. The award of professional qualification, membership of professional qualification, membership of professional bodies, evolution of performance, evolution of techniques etc. are done in accordance to the standards prescribed in the vocational codes. The professional bodies are themselves the best judges.

However, in actuality there are a lot of problems in the effective enforcement of the code of conduct and in the making them sufficiently definite and updated. Though in reality the codes of conduct cannot be enforced in totality but yet the need for the code of conduct cannot be denied.

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