PMI® Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct

Instructor: Amber Dixon

Amber works with graduate students enrolled in a virtual program and has a Master's of Social Work degree.

This lesson will discuss the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The lesson will explain in detail the principles of ethical decision-making.

Ethics and Conduct Codes for Project Management

Professional ethical frameworks and codes of conduct are common with health care professionals, social workers, and lawyers. Are there ethical standards and conduct rules for project managers? The answer is yes, and these standards are provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Having set standards for professional conduct and ethical decision-making helps managers, staff and organizations be more successful.

Vision and Applicability

The code of ethics and professional conduct guidelines explain the standards that PMI has established for its organization and members who are individuals from the project management workforce. PMI standards are defined as guidelines for ethical behaviors within the project management profession that apply to personal lives and work in the field. The ethical standards and code of conduct provide a strong reputation to the project management field, create confidence in professionals, and help the profession advance.

Responsibility, Respect, and Fairness

Responsibilities of project managers within the PMI community include maintaining confidentiality, complying with laws and regulations, and acting in ways that are consistent with policies and procedures. Professionals should make decisions and conduct themselves with actions that take ownership of decisions.

Respect is a standard that applies to treating yourself, and others, with dignity. Project managers are often responsible for other individuals, finances, and the well-being of others. Respectful behavior includes promoting diversity and mutual sharing of ideas. Specific standards include showing respect to others even in situations when it is not received in return. Respect includes facing conflict directly in the face and not running from it.

Fairness is the standard to make decisions objectively. For actions to be fair they should be non-abusive, and non-discriminatory. Project managers should also demonstrate transparency, or clear and open communication, in the decision-making process. This promotes trust. Examples of project management transparency include status reports, clear meeting minutes, and meetings to catch people up. Transparency also includes assisting colleagues to identify and anticipate situations that will conflict with the professional code and confront co-workers when they are being unethical.

Let's look at an example. A project manager was responsible for developing an internal safety protocol for a mental health center. The project manager decided to rely on subject-matter experts for presentations during the initial part of the sessions. The project manager created a panel of diverse viewpoints with a head security officer from a local community college, a chief of police from an urban setting, and a trainer from a safety course.


Honesty is the standard of acknowledging and conducting yourself with truthful behavior in verbal and written communications. Let's take a look at a few examples of how to display honesty. These include providing accurate information, making commitments with the intent of meeting them, and having courageous conversations about negative information when it may not be received well.

Professionals must avoid blaming others, base decisions on information that is reliable and accurate, and avoid taking credit for a job well done when others were responsible for the achievement.

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