Code of Ethics Conduct

Article 1 - General Rules
Article 2 - The contract and the mutual expectations
Article 3 - Integrity and independence 
Article 4 - Social responsability
    Article 5 - Cooperation and fair competition
Article 6 - Penalties


Since 1968 APCO, Associazione Professionale Italiana  dei Consulenti di Management [Italian Professional Association of Management Consultants] has united and qualified those who perform, continuously as a profession, the activity of management consulting, both individually, and as associates or employees of consulting firms. It is associated with the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI), and shares its professional qualification criteria and ethical principles, as well as actively participating in its activities.

The Mission of APCO is:
· to represent and promote the profession of the management consultant;
· to develop and encourage the community of the management consulting professionals;
· to define, monitor and spread the standards of quality for the profession;
· to effectively and responsibly support the role of representative of the image of the Association in interactions with the market and outside contacts;
· to ensure the representation of the associates at public institutions, trade associations and entrepreneur organisations.

APCO always had a Code of Ethics, but in 2015 it considered appropriate to review it, to take into account the changes in the landscape that are affecting the management consulting world, making it a more effective instrument of guidance for those who want operate professionally. The growing importance that management consulting has assumed in the knowledge economy and the spread of innovation among the clients, public and private, reinforce the need for ethical behaviour in professional activities: ethics assumes a strategic dimension as a multiplying factor of the quality of the service and as a concrete way of practicing the consultant’s social responsibility, thus resulting a fundamental element for the construction of an open, free, transparent, competitive professional market.

In the new layout, the Code of Ethics defines a system of values and rules of conduct capable of guiding professional behaviour and contributing to creating APCO citizenship, in other words to produce identity, affiliation and reputation. This layout highlights the area of autonomy which is left to the management consultant to apply the shared rules, while allowing to overcome:
- a prescriptive view, no longer sufficient in a complex and variable scenario like that in which management consulting operates
- a view anchored exclusively on general principles, which shows a difficult operating validity.
In line with this layout, the new Code of Ethics is divided into three parts
- the first defines the values on which the APCO management consulting view of ethics is based. Values on which APCO consultants must base their professional actions, also in situations in which there is a lack of specific rules
- the second, starting from these values and their diversification into guidelines, defines precautionary rules of conduct which do not presume to cover all the cases in which the values and principles must be applied, but gives them concreteness and operational evidence in situations which today can be classified
- the third defines the penalties that result from the violation of the Code of Ethics and the process with which they are dispenses, with the relative responsibilities.

The APCO Code of Ethics is consistent with the provisions of Law 4/2013 “Provisions regarding non-organised professions” and reinforces their formulation with the objective of assuring the market and those involved the quality and ethics of management consultants.

First Part

The founding values of the professional ethics of the APCO management consultant

Ethics express a system of values, specific for every profession, which strives to create identity and affiliation and to guide the behaviour of the members.

Four fundamental values constitute the ethical view of APCO’s management consulting:
· respect for the mutual expectations - implicit and explicit - of the client and the consultant.
Represents the central role of the client‐consultant relationship, as it evolves over time. 
Guiding‐principles: central role of the contract, trust and authority, contractual conduct, confidentiality and privacy
· integrity and independence of the professional action. Represents the preservation of independence, objectivity and impartiality in actions and opinions (value freedom), in the professional contexts in which one operates
Guiding‐principles:  autonomy of the client, independence of the consultant, transparency, professional growth
· social responsibility. Represents being socially responsible, namely of the fallout of the consulting activity on client’s stakeholders and more in general on the society, including future generations, and to highlight it
Guiding‐principles: reputation, legality, sustainability, equal opportunity and equality
· cooperation and fair competition with colleagues. Presupposes the concept of affiliation in the association, making one’s own individual identity coexist with the identity of the association; it also implies transparency in assuming behaviours, while activating and performing actions with mutual respect among colleagues.
Guiding‐principles: cooperation, circulation of knowledge, respect for colleagues, fairness in competition.

In line with these values, the purpose of professional ethics concerns:
·         services understood as process and output,
·         relations between consultant, client and client organisational system,
·         relations with colleagues and the professional community,
·         relations within APCO,
·         relations with stakeholders.

Second Part

Article 1. General Rules.
By enrolling in APCO, every Management Consultant
a. undertakes to comply with these Code of Ethics, signed at the time of enrolment in the Association, and guarantees to APCO and its members that his/her behaviour will comply with the principles of the code;
b. is required to act in compliance with the Association Statute and subsequent implementing regulations, conforming his/her activity to the objectives listed therein and to every other initiative assumed for that purpose by the Association
c. undertakes to learn and apply the national and international rules of reference and to comply his/her activity as much as possible to their contents;
d. undergoes, every three years, a verification of professional updating required by APCO, also in accordance with Law 4/2013, for purposes of maintaining APCO qualification
e. is required to submit to the opinion of the competent Association Bodies for the evaluation of the behaviour maintained, should contradiction emerge between this behaviour and the principles listed in this Code of Ethics;
f. must base his/her professional activity on the rules of conduct defined by APCO and, in cases not specifically provided, must always behave in a manner that will protect the image and reputation of the profession and the Association.

Article 2 - The contract and the mutual expectations

The Consultant operates in compliance with assignment taken with the Client in order to satisfy the mutual declared expectations agreed to.

Precautionary rules of conduct

2.1.  Central role of the contract.
The Consultant
· clearly explains in the proposal the activities to be performed, the economics, the relative times, the results to be achieved, the expected benefits for the client, the more general impact/risks on the most important stakeholders and his/her professional expectations
· carefully and correctly performs the assignment given in compliance with the expected times and results
· communicates clearly and promptly to the Client the existence of unforeseen events which have possibly occurred that do not permit the realization, total or partial, of the commitments. Agrees on the rescheduling, in compliance with the initial objectives of the assignment
· at the end of the assignment provides an account of the results achieved and the possible differences relative to the contract, and verifies the Client’s level of satisfaction in terms of the expectations agreed on

2.2.  trust and authority.

The Consultant:
· clearly explains his/her expertise and accepts the assignments for which he/she feels suitable and qualified. Informs the Client, should unforeseen difficulties or problems arise, when beyond his/her specific expertise
· operates in the actual interest of the Client and does not knowingly suggest solutions or professional methods that are needlessly costly or burdensome
· clarifies to the Client possible conflicts within the organisation which could influence the results of the assignment
· refrains from accepting consulting assignments of the same kind simultaneously or close in terms of time from clients who are competitors, without having informed the interested parties
· refrains from personally, or on behalf of others, making direct offers of employment to the employees of the Client
· refrains from providing professional activity when he/she has, on his/her own or for third parties, an interest that conflicts with that of the Client to such an extent that it could affect the correct implementation of the consulting assignment.

2.3.  contractual conduct.

The Consultant:
· in case  the contract appears incomplete or unforeseen changes occur during the implementation of the assignment, suggests solutions, providing clear proof to the client
· pursues the equalisation between the remuneration proposed and the contribution given to the Client, both for individual work and for the work of the resources that cooperate in providing the consulting services
· promotes an equalisation of the legitimate interests possibly conflicting between the stakeholders involved, conducting analyses and suggesting solutions aimed at promoting the convergence of interest between the parties

2.4.confidentiality and privacy.

The Consultant:
· refrains from disclosing information relative to the Client without having requested consent, and maintains this obligation even after the assignment has ended
· maintains as confidential all information and news concerning the personal data learned during the performance of the assignment, and maintains this obligations even after the assignment has ended
· guarantees the integrity and storage of the data and documents made available to him/her during the performance of the assignment
· maintains confidential the information relative to the client and his organisation received during the preliminary phase, even when the contract is not finalised
· requires compliance with the duty of confidentiality also from those who cooperates in providing the consulting services.

Article 3 - Integrity and independence

In the professional contexts in which the Consultant operates, he/she ensures the preservation of independence, objectivity and impartiality in his/her actions.

Precautionary rules of conduct

3.1 Autonomy of the Client.

The Consultant
· operates in partnership with the Client, avoiding to replace him in the decisions that pertain to him
· supports and promotes the decision-making responsibility of the Client, putting him in a position to make his own decisions in an independent, knowledgeable manner free of explicit or implicit conditioning by the consultant
· reduces the imbalance of specific (knowledge, know-how) and financial expertise towards the Client and does not take advantage of them to impose or influence decisions not knowingly shared

3.2.independence of the Consultant.

The Consultant
· maintains independence, objectivity and impartiality of thought, and opinion in all the contexts in which he/she has to operate professionally and an analytical approach that has the most value-freedom possible
· explains to the Client situations of potential conflict of interest both at the beginning or during the work, and does not accept the assignment if the conflict could condition the correct performance of the work
· does not use positions or charges held, even by individuals close to him/her, in contexts outside the client’s organisation, to obtain advantages for him/herself of the client

3.3. transparency.

The Consultant
· guarantees, in relations with the employees of the client organisation, behaviour that is unambiguous and transparent in term of methods and objectives, always ensuring the necessary confidentiality agreed with the Client
· points out the problems raised by conflicts or understandings not stated by individuals of the client organisation, so that each person is put in the position to be able to decide responsibly
· clarifies the rules and the methods agreed with the client which will be followed during the implementation of the work, in case of assignments that affect individuals in the client organisation (evaluation systems, incentives, classifications...),

3.4.professional growth.

The Consultant
· constantly looks after his/her professional preparation with particular attention to the fields in which the consulting activity is carried out and the general management techniques
· attends courses and/or training/refresher events according to the instructions provided by the Association, also pursuant to Law 4/2013
· promotes the professional abilities and growth of the resources that work with him/her
· contributes to the growth in the abilities and skills of the resources of the client organisation

Article 4 - Social responsibility

The Consultant takes into account the consequences and the immediate and longer term impact of his professional activity on the majority of the stakeholders, including future generations, and provides evidence to the client

 Precautionary rules of conduct:

4.1 sustainability.

The Consultant
· evaluates the consequences of the consulting assignment and the solutions proposed as well as the external impacts possibly generated by their implementation, even when they are not immediate
· in case of significant impacts, helps the client to think about the consequences for the internal and external stakeholders and on the financial, environmental and social sustainability of the solutions being evaluated

4.2.parity and equality.

The Consultant
· treats everyone of the client organisation and the stakeholders he/she comes into contact with equal consideration and respect
· treats all colleagues with the same consideration and respect, regardless of gender, political orientation, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, position in the organisation
· is conscious of the systemic risk of behaviours that can  harm the value of equality and parity
· when performing his/her assignment, refrains from any direct or indirect discriminatory behaviours and reports to the Client possible discrimination detected

4.3. legality.

The Consultant
· refuses the consulting assignment when he/she believes that his/her activity could contribute to illegitimate or illegal operations
· in business relations, refrains from illegal competitive practices or from those which are, in any case, detrimental to the principles of free competition
· refrains from suggesting illegal or fraudulent solutions to his/her Client
· informs the APCO competent bodies of the possible professionally incorrect behaviour of a consulting colleague


The Consultant
· contributes to creating and monitoring the image of Management Consulting by sharing the values that guide the profession
· creates and monitors his/her own professional image by transmitting visibility and reputation through distinctive know-how: competence, credibility, reliability, ethics, style and quality of relations with the stakeholders
· considers reputation as a basic element of the communication and marketing system of the  management consultant.  Consequently, effectively and responsibly supports the role of APCO representative in interactions with the market.

Article 5 - Cooperation and fair competition

The Consultant cooperates with his/her colleagues both vis-a-vis a specific client and as part of a broader professional community and competes fairly in those cases in which he/she has to compete with other colleagues for the awarding of an assignment or participation in tenders.

Precautionary rules of conduct

5.1. cooperation.

The Consultant
· actively cooperates with his/her colleagues as part of joint projects for the same
Client, agreeing on the services to be performed and working towards a constructive cooperation in the interest of the Client
· in case of a change, provides the colleague who is entering, following the Client’s consent, all the information and documentation relative to the work performed or in progress considered necessary for ensuring the best fulfilment of the work
· cooperates with his/her colleagues within the APCO community to maintain high professional standards towards the majority of the stakeholders and to develop innovative association initiatives
· participates in preliminary and decision-making processes within APCO

5.2.circulation of knowledge.

The Consultant
· circulates within the professional community the knowledge as well as the scientific/cultural innovations - national and international ‐ relative to the specific areas of competence, in order to support the continuous improvement of the professional standards shared by colleagues
· circulates among the APCO colleagues the information necessary to participate in public tenders and in general regarding the opportunities for access to financing of management consulting activity

5.3. respect of the colleagues.

The Consultant
· enhances the contribution of every colleague to the life of the association and the improvement of the professional standards
· recognises the authorship and in general the contribution made by colleagues to the development of methods and instruments supporting the management consulting activity
· guarantees the confidentiality of sensitive information received from colleagues and respects their privacy

5.4. fair competition.

The Consultant
· competes fairly in the interest of the Client and, in relations with potential clients, commits not to adopt behaviours that leverage factors outside professional expertise, the quality of the services and the basic sustainability of the prices
· maintains the promotional and public relations activity within the limits of credibility, fairness and professional correctness.

Third Part

Art. 6 - Penalties

In case of report by the Advisory Committee or by other colleagues or by third party subjects, or when information is received of behaviour potentially detrimental of this Code of Ethics carried out by members or conflict between Association and Members, the Board of Trustees starts the preliminary phase to verify the existence of possible violations.

Once the preliminary phase is concluded, according to the procedures provided by the Implementation and Participation Regulations, the Board of Trustees arranges to dispense penalties and notifies the President of the Association who arranges to implement them.

The violation must be voluntary even in case of omission. When several violations are disputed as part of the same proceeding, there is a single penalty.

The penalties, related to the seriousness of the behaviour verified, ascertained recidivism and the possible continuation over time of the infringements of this Code, are:

a. censure;
b. suspension from every charge and every Association activity, for a period of not less than six months and not more than eighteen;
c. suspension from active and passive electorate rights, for a period of not less than six months and not more than eighteen;
d. forfeiture of possible executive positions in the Association;
e. forfeiture of possible assignments of outside representation of the Association;
f. withdrawal of the title of APCO Qualified Member and/or APCO‐CMC Qualified Member, if it exists;
g. expulsion from the Association.

The penalties listed in points a, b, and c can also be combined. The penalties must be notified in writing to the interested party and justified.