I am presently the member of two Australian trade associations (APA, SPN), and one international (the Independent Book Publishers Association). Now, professional associations generally have two conflicting mandates, firstly they have a responsibility to act on behalf of their members, a responsibility which will often have them acting like a cartel or a labor union (trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned. Secondly professional bodies often act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession. (Source Wikipedia). One of the primary methods by which this second is achieved is by the development, maintenance, and enforcement of a code of ethics for its members.
Without a Code of Ethics it is difficult for an organisation to discipline or expel a member for acting unethically, as without a code it often difficult to determine whether someone is a fit and proper person to be a member. This is because the question of fitness will differ across occupations, and the matter will often end up in court. With a Code of Ethics the question is simpler, as the expectations of the behaviour of its members is set out in that Code. While the matter may still end up in court, the fact that the Association made a determination against a code of ethics specific to its occupation and membership will make its decision to discipline, suspend, or expel a member is much easier to justify. And personally I can definitely confirm that it makes sacking an unethical employee so much easier.
Which should make it of concern that until recently none of these three associations appears to have had a code of ethics, although this has now changed with the release of IBPA's first Code of Ethics.
IBPA CODE OF ETHICS
As part of the independent publishing community, we pledge:
- To uphold the highest standards of our industry, to create works of lasting financial and/or cultural value, and to pursue editorial, desigh, and production excellence.
- To respect the rights of authors and other creators and stakeholders, to observe all copyright laws and conventions, and to never knowingly publish plagiarised work.
- To reward authors and contributors for their work, to be honest in our financial dealings, to write contracts in understandable language, to resolve all disputes promptly and fairly, and to foster equal opportunity in our workplaces.
- To not mislead readers or buyers with false promises, inflated sales data, or manipulated reviews.
- To recycle and reuse and to follow green practices.
What do you think? I like them, I think they encapsulate what Hague Publishing has been seeking to achieve ever since it was started, in addition to being: simple, pertinent, and highly relevant to the business.
Oh, and if you're wondering about why I am a member of three associations, well that's a matter for another blog, as well as being likely to change in 2014.