Membership

Make Ethics Support a Member Benefit

By / Sep 10, 2019 (RapidEye/E+/Getty Images Plus)

If a member faces an ethical dilemma, does your association offer a helping hand? At the Institute of Management Accountants, ethical guidance is a critical member benefit and engagement opportunity.

Ethical dilemmas can arise in any industry or profession, and while an association might have a code of conduct, ethical guidelines, or an ethics committee, the organization may not be the first place a member thinks to turn when facing a murky gray area.

That’s not the case at the Institute of Management Accountants, where ethical guidance is considered a critical member benefit. IMA’s Ethics Center is a digital one-stop shop for services, resources, and information on professional standards and principles that members have come to rely on.

“Professional ethics and values are the foundation of the management accounting profession,” says Debbie Warner, CAE, CPLP, vice president of education and career services at IMA. “Our job as an organization is to ensure that our members maintain the highest levels of integrity and trust in business.”

On Tuesday, IMA announced its newest member benefit—giving members a free two-credit continuing professional education (CPE) course in any ethics subject, including several scenario-based trainings that are added to the curriculum each year.

“These fictional scenarios are adapted from real-life management accounting situations and focus on the challenges and decisions that professionals have dealt with and continue to deal with every day,” Warner says. “That helps put our members in the moment and simulates scenarios they can commonly relate to or prepare for.”

The free two-credit CPE purchase is renewed each membership year.

Although ethics resources may sound like an eat-your-broccoli kind of benefit, IMA’s members—who work in a highly regulated field fraught with a wide range of potential ethical pitfalls—have shown an appetite for them. In addition to offering courses, IMA supports members with a variety of ethics tools that could translate well to other associations.

Wallet card. While many associations supply members with a wallet-sized card to indicate membership status, IMA’s version reminds members about its Statement of Ethical Professional Practice [PDF]. The card distills the statement down to a list of IMA’s ethical principles (honesty, fairness, objectivity, and responsibility) and professional standards (competence, confidentiality, integrity, and credibility). The back of the card details steps a member can take to resolve an ethical dilemma in real time.

Ethics helpline. Also printed on the back of the wallet card is a phone number connecting IMA members to an ethics helpline that’s anonymous and free to call from anywhere around the world. After a preliminary discussion of an ethical question or issue, IMA’s Committee on Ethics responds to each caller.

The goal is not to provide a resolution but rather to explain how the ethical dilemma relates to provisions of IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice. The helpline also serves as a direct form of member engagement to alert the association about emerging ethical dilemmas.

Podcast. In July, Warner and her team launched Count Me In, a new podcast focusing on emerging technologies and innovations reshaping the management accounting profession. In each discussion, issues like artificial intelligence and automation are framed within business case scenarios that often revolve around ethical issues.

Podcasting has become a popular platform to reach listeners who are on the move, and IMA is using it to help both members and nonmembers stay one step ahead of constant change.

“Our podcast is the perfect medium to deliver expertise to individuals, as they are easily accessible and digestible in our 24/7 news culture,” Warner said in a release announcing the podcast’s launch. “With the rapid changes we are seeing in the management accounting profession, we wanted to create a platform where professionals can more readily receive information and act on it.”

Do you provide a helping hand to members when they’re faced with ethical issues? What types of support do you offer? Post your comments in the discussion thread below.

Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. More »

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