Comparatively speaking the codes of ethics between the American Psychological Association (APA) (2010) and the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) (2014) contains the same goal; that is to be respectful of the persons they serve in a dignified, confidential and lawful manner. While the APA guidelines are used in all areas of psychology, whether medical, clinical or organizational, the SHRM code of ethics are designed for HR professionals specifically. These two sets of principles share similarities in that they both aim for fair and just practices, confidentiality in the use of information, and awareness of conflicts of interest.
The APA (2010) in contrast to the SHRM (2014) states in more detail ethical standards about ethical issues. While the SHRM (2014) states compliance with the law an absolute requirement, the APA (2010) goes much further in describing violating circumstances like sexual harassment, different forms of discrimination, work relationships and reporting such violations among many others. The APA (2010) also discusses the issues of deception in research, inhumane research, plagiarism, and ethical research or experimental procedures. This is important because the field of psychology is one that requires constant exploration and induces critical thinking and questioning of what is known and unknown. The SHRM (2014) does not include many of these principles because this code of ethics is not meant to be used by all areas of psychology. In HR management, it is vital to an organization to practice confidentiality with personal information about their employees and while some research and exploration may take place in the form of workplace analytics or something similar, there is unlikely to be any type of scientific experimentation. The SHRM (2014) lists one of their core principles as Professional Development. This is to allow practitioners to continue their education in their field and stay abreast of the most current information and techniques. The APA (2010) does not list this as a core principle but instead embeds the intent in their research principles.
According to Lefkowitz (2017) “as professionals, we cannot do that work very well, at least not for very long, if we do not treat all of those persons ethically – that is, honestly, fairly and with respect and dignity,” (p. 1). Understanding ethics means recognizing the difference between what is right and what is wrong, or what is good and what is bad. However, as Lefkowitz (2017) states, not every person will share the same opinions of what is considered right, wrong, good, or bad leading to what is often referred to as meta-ethical issues. It is not just knowing the differences between these but understanding why they are different; are the answers to these subjective or objective? Inherently, most humans have a firm understanding of what it means to practice ethical behavior, however, in a professional setting, this understanding needs to be detailed so as to protect the integrity, dignity, confidentiality, and fair and just treatment of individuals and practices. These guidelines and principles aim to guarantee a safe environment for professionals and individuals.
American Psychological Association (APA). (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct.
Lefkowitz, J. (2017). Ethics and values in industrial-organizational psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). (2014). SHRM code of ethics.
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