top of page

Why Do the Ethical Standards of Technical Professionals Matter?

The ethical standards of professionals matter. The second E in FINESSE stands for Ethics.
The ethical standards of professionals matter.

Ethics are the way we make decisions. That’s why it is important to recognize the ethical standards of professionals do matter. As trusted advisors, you will also see our ethics play out in how we communicate. The second E in FINESSE stands for Ethics.


Physicians (MDs)

Licensed medical professionals such as physicians and nurses are bound by the principle of medical ethics, which often aligns with a combination of duty-based (deontological) and consequence-based (utilitarian) ethics.


Licensed medical professionals must prioritize patient well-being, confidentiality, informed consent, and avoiding harm. Disclosure of all possible information to patients to help decision making is the priority. Licensed medical professionals are usually seen as the most ethical of all professions.


Professional Engineers (PEs) 

Licensed professional engineers abide by a code of ethics primarily grounded in duty-based ethics. They emphasize integrity, honesty, and objectivity in their work. Most of their ethical standards require holding public safety, health, and welfare paramount (above all others, including their clients and businesses).


Like licensed medical professionals, full disclosure is the priority. In duty-based ethics, the disclosure on which a decision is made defines the correctness of the decision, not the results of the decision. Licensed professional engineers are viewed in the top tier of ethics for all professions.


Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) 

CPAs follow a code of professional conduct that combines duty-based and consequence-based ethics. The status of a "public accountant" emphasizes the duty to the public. While their focus in financial reporting is ensuring accuracy, transparency, and trust, CPAs (and accountants in general) have a more consequence-based approach driven by their client’s outcomes. When it comes to ethical behavior, CPAs are usually viewed in the top tier of all professions.



Attorneys operate under a mixed set of duty-based ethics and consequence-based ethics. They must uphold the law and advocate for their clients. However, their advocacy for their clients leads to consequence-based communication and decision making. The perception of attorneys' ethics varies widely.


Professional Societies & Accreditation Organizations

Professional societies and accreditation organizations often have their own codes of ethics or standards that their members are expected to follow. These codes include ethical principles and guidelines specific to their area of practice.


Professional society members or certified practitioners are legally bound to follow the codes. At best, However, the ethical standards are influential within the profession. Violating the ethical standards will lead to legal consequences but could result in disciplinary actions, including loss of accreditation, suspension, or expulsion.


Licensing boards are often put in place to protect the public through the legal liability of the licensed professionals. Professional societies and accreditation boards have a limited role in directly protecting the public but so much to police the behavior inside the area of practice.


Ethical Standards and Communicating with FINESSE

It's important to note that ethical standards can vary among individuals within each profession, and generalizing can be misleading. However, ethics are how we make decisions and play out in how we communicate. Understanding the perspective of technical professionals, and potential biases, is essential for effective communication. The second E in FINESSE stands for Ethics.


Communicating with FINESSE is a not-for-profit community of technical professionals dedicated to being highly effective communicators and facilitators. Learn more about our publications, webinars, and workshops. Join the community for free.



bottom of page