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CIPS Code of Conduct

Your commitment to the profession

Join OnlineThe purpose of this code of conduct is to define behaviours and actions which CIPS members must commit to maintain as long as they are members of CIPS.

 

Use of the code

Members of CIPS worldwide are required to uphold this code and to seek commitment to it by all the parties they engage with in their professional practice.

Members should encourage their organisation to adopt an ethical procurement and supply policy based on the principles of this code and raise any matter of concern relating to business ethics at an appropriate level within their organisation.

Members’ conduct will be judged against the code and any breach may lead to action under the disciplinary rules set out in the Institute’s Royal Charter. Members are expected to assist any investigation by CIPS in the event of a complaint being made against them. Find out more about the complaints and disciplinary procedure.

Code of Conduct

As a member of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, I will:

 

Enhance and protect the standing of the profession, by:

  • never engaging in conduct, either professional or personal, which would bring the profession or the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply into disrepute
  • not accepting inducements or gifts (other than any declared gifts of nominal value which have been sanctioned by my employer)
  • not allowing offers of hospitality or those with vested interests to influence, or be perceived to influence, my business decisions
  • being aware that my behaviour outside my professional life may have an effect on how I am perceived as a professional

Maintain the highest standard of integrity in all business relationships, by:

  • rejecting any business practice which might reasonably be deemed improper
  • never using my authority or position for my own financial gain
  • declaring to my line manager any personal interest that might affect, or be seen by others to affect, my impartiality in decision making
  • ensuring that the information I give in the course of my work is accurate and not misleading
  • never breaching the confidentiality of information I receive in a professional capacity
  • striving for genuine, fair and transparent competition
  • being truthful about my skills, experience and qualifications

Promote the eradication of unethical business practices, by:

  • fostering awareness of human rights, fraud and corruption issues in all my business relationships
  • responsibly managing any business relationships where unethical practices may come to light, and taking appropriate action to report and remedy them
  • undertaking due diligence on appropriate supplier relationships in relation to forced labour (modern slavery) and other human rights abuses, fraud and corruption
  • continually developing my knowledge of forced labour (modern slavery), human rights, fraud and corruption issues, and applying this in my professional life

Enhance the proficiency and stature of the profession, by:

  • continually developing and applying knowledge to increase my personal skills and those of the organisation I work for
  • fostering the highest standards of professional competence amongst those for whom I am responsible
  • optimising the responsible use of resources which I have influence over for the benefit of my organisation

Ensure full compliance with laws and regulations, by:

  • adhering to the laws of the countries in which I practise, and in countries where there is no relevant law in place I will apply the standards inherent in this Code
  • fulfilling agreed contractual obligations
  • following CIPS guidance on professional practice 

The new code was approved by the CIPS Global Board of Trustees on 10 September 2013.

 

You can download a pdf version of the code of conduct here.

Guidance Notes

Ethics are the principles which define behaviour as right, good and appropriate and members are bound to uphold certain values in their professional activities.

The value of the transactions in the procurement process along with pressures to lower costs could result in bribery, corruption and other practices which could be deemed unethical.  It is therefore imperative that procurement operates ethically, with impartiality, transparency, and professionalism.

Ethical procurement best practice starts with the employees in procurement following the CIPS Code of Conduct which dictates their behaviour and actions while conducting business. Ethical procurement practices should be extended to all stakeholders in the procurement cycle. 

We have outlined some examples that would constitute a breach of the code below.

 

Conflict of Interest

Procurement professionals shall:

  • Avoid any private or professional activity that would create a conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety
  • Avoid engaging in personal business with any supplier representative or similar person
  • Avoid lending money to or borrowing money from any supplier
  • Avoid any and all potential for nepotism
  • Avoid any overlap of duties in the procurement process
  • Safeguard the procurement process from political or outside influence

 

Conduct with Suppliers:

Business dealings with suppliers must be fair and transparent. Procurement shall:

  • Refrain from showing favouritism or being influenced by suppliers through the acceptance of gifts, gratuities, loans or favours
  • Safeguard supplier confidentiality
  • Refrain from requiring suppliers to pay to be included on an approved or preferred supplier list
  • Select suppliers on the basis of meeting appropriate and fair criteria
  • Discourage the arbitrary or unfair use of purchasing leverage or influence when dealing with suppliers
  • Avoid the exertion of undue influence or abuses of power
  • Treat all suppliers fair and equal

 

Corruption

Procurement professionals who become aware of any corrupt activity have a duty to the profession and to their employing organisations to alert their senior management and/or elected officials. Procurement shall not tolerate bribery or corruption in any form.

Forms include, but are not limited to:

  • Bribery is the offering, promising, giving, authorising or accepting of any undue financial or other advantage to, by or for any persons associated with the procurement process, or for anyone else in order to obtain or retain a business or other improper advantage. Bribery often includes (i) kicking back a portion of a contract payment to government or party officials or to employees of the other contracting party, their close relatives, friends or business partners or (ii) using intermediaries such as agents, subcontractors, consultants or other third parties, to channel payments to government or party officials, or to employees of the contracting parties, their relatives, friends or business partners.
  • Extortion or Solicitation is the demanding of a bribe, whether or not coupled with a threat, if the demand is refused. Procurement professionals will oppose any attempt of extortion or solicitation and are encouraged to report such attempts through available formal or informal reporting mechanisms.
  • Trading in Influence is the offering or solicitation of an undue advantage in order to exert an improper, real, or supposed influence.
  • Laundering the proceeds of the corrupt practices mentioned above is the concealing or disguising the illegitimate origin, source, location, disposition, movement or ownership of property and/or money, knowing that such is the proceeds of crime.
  • Nepotism is the use of authority or influence to show favouritism to relatives or friends without merit.

 

Business gifts and hospitality

The offer and receipt of business gifts and entertainment are sensitive areas for procurement professionals, despite being recognised as standard private sector business practice. Procurement organisations should develop a clear policy on accepting business gifts and procurement professionals and suppliers must comply with any such policy as well as prevailing laws.

Minimal guidelines include:

  • Not soliciting or accepting money, loans, and credits or prejudicial discounts, gifts, entertainment, favours or services from present or potential suppliers which might influence or appear to influence a procurement decision/ process
  • Avoiding meals or other hospitality with suppliers

 

Other Policies and Considerations

Ethical practices should be defined and embedded in other policies, procedures and practices which overlap procurement. Other policies in the procurement space which will need to be considered may include the subjects of:

  • Competition and anti-competitive practices
  • Supplier diversity
  • Supplier equality
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Sustainability
  • Anti-discrimination policy
  • Transparency

FAQs

The CIPS Professional Code of Conduct has been updated to reflect modern business environments.  Professional bodies have a role to maintain public confidence in the professions they represent and in recent years the banking crisis and other scandals have damaged the reputation of some professions. There is increased public interest these days in how professionals and the organisations they work for behave, and a demand that professionals are held to account.

We benchmarked against other professional body codes and a number of corporate codes and concluded that while the principles of the CIPS Code were still valid, there were some areas where it was falling short of current best practice.

 

Why is it important?

Professional integrity is at the heart of the CIPS standard alongside technical competence.  It is a key element of the CIPS ‘brand’ worldwide and enables us to speak with authority on procurement ethics. We want to be able to demonstrate that our members work to the highest ethical standards and that they are held to account if they don’t. We have to make sure our Code is rigorous enough, is enforced and thereby enhances the standing of our profession.

  

What has been added to the Code and why? 

Our Global Board of Trustees has approved an addition to the Code of Conduct which gives CIPS members a duty to promote the eradication of unethical business practices from the supply chain, specifically human rights abuses, fraud and corruption. 

The purpose of this new element of the Code is to raise awareness of these issues, highlight the role of procurement in tackling them, and hold members accountable for addressing them in their own professional practice.  It also aligns with our Charter objective to promote ethical procurement for the benefit of society and will help us fulfil that obligation by showing that our members are committed to making a real difference.  By strengthening the Code in this way we can demonstrate that our members work to the highest ethical standards and will be held to account if they don’t.

 

Why has the Code been amended now?

Professional Codes of Conduct should be expected to evolve over time to remain relevant as society changes, although the guiding principles that underpin them tend to remain constant.  This amendment is the latest phase of that continuing process.

Professional bodies have a role to maintain public confidence in the professions they represent and increasing media focus on supply chain failures such as the horsemeat scandal and the labour abuses exposed by the Bangladesh factory collapse has made it even more evident that our profession must take the lead in driving unethical practice in all its forms from the supply chain. 

By adding this requirement for CIPS members to actively address these issues we are increasing our authority to speak publicly on all aspects of ethical procurement, and more leverage to influence corporate and government policy.

 

The Code now covers personal conduct, why is this relevant?

How a person behaves in their private life can have a negative impact on their professional credibility, and that can have a knock-on effect on how the public perceives the profession. The Code asks members to think about how they conduct themselves outside work and consider how this might have a positive or negative impact on their status as a professional.  A way for members to test whether their personal behaviour is appropriate or not is to ask themselves if they would be comfortable explaining it to someone whose good opinion they want to maintain.

Conduct that could lead to disciplinary action might include:

  • a conviction for a serious non-work related crime, such as assault, which has been reported in the press
  • offensive comments or images posted on social media

It is important to emphasise that it not the purpose of the CIPS disciplinary process to judge members’ private lives. The purpose is to protect the reputation of CIPS and the procurement and supply profession.  The question the Disciplinary Committee has to answer is would an informed member of the public consider the behaviour likely to damage the reputation of the profession and of CIPS by association.

 

How will CIPS be supporting members? 

We recognise that if we are holding members to account, we must also provide help and support for those facing ethical dilemmas in their professional practice.  We also acknowledge that there are industries, and parts of the world, where CIPS members are up against particular challenges. We will therefore be providing practical help: 

  • a comprehensive Ethical Procurement Best Practice Guide
  • guidance for members on the interpretation and application of the Code of Conduct
  • a strengthened disciplinary process to protect the integrity of CIPS membership

 

In addition, from 2014 we will enable members to demonstrate their ethical awareness and competence by taking an online ethics test.  Members who complete the test successfully will be able to display the CIPS ethical procurement logo and their names will be published in an online register which will be accessible to the public.

 

Who do I complain to about a CIPS member’s conduct?

In the first instance, address your complaint to CIPS Customer Services (customer.services@cips.org). Before you do, we recommend that you check if the person is in fact a current CIPS member at the grade they claim.

 

How do I find out if someone is a CIPS member?

The easiest way is to check the online member register. As long as you know their name and country of residence you will be able to establish if they are a current member or not and at what grade.

 

How are complaints about studying members handled?

If the complaint is in connection with malpractice in student activity, such as cheating in an examination, this will be handled by the Awarding Body. The Awarding Body is empowered to investigate and apply sanctions, which could result in suspension or permanent exclusion from CIPS examinations. If the complaint is in connection with the student’s conduct as a practitioner, this will be referred to the Disciplinary Committee.

 

What happens next?

Allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct are referred to CIPS’ Disciplinary Committee. The Committee will review both your complaint and the member’s response, decide whether the complaint is upheld, and then decide whether or not to apply a sanction. Sanctions can range from a written reprimand to expulsion from membership. 

 

Where can I find out more about procurement ethics?

Information on procurement ethics and relevant legislation such as the Bribery Act can be found on the CIPS website by clicking on the 'learn more' tab above and following the links that appear.

Learn More

This publication introduces procurement professionals to the key concepts behind ethical procurement and provides practical advice for getting started. It not only addresses procurement specifications but recognises the importance of how a buyer conducts their relationship with suppliers, including contract negotiation.

The guide has a specific focus on procurement across borders, especially when buying from unfamiliar places with weak worker protections, or countries with potentially unfamiliar work cultures.

Ethics and Sustainable Procurement

 

CIPS members can learn more about ethical procurement by logging in to to the website using your membership number and password and viewing these procurement topics on CIPS Knowledge:

 

You can also learn more about ethics, bribery and ethical procurement using the links below: