September 2014 STS – Benefits of CAPS

Steve_ForanBenefits of CAPS: Code of Professional Ethics?
by Steve Foran, P.Eng, MBA, CAPS Atlantic

One of the features to hiring a CAPS member is that the client is engaging a speaker who is committed to a Code of Professional Ethics.

We have seven articles in our code and each represents a dimension of behaviour that is critical to ensuring ongoing public confidence in the profession of speaking.

When we deeply understand the CAPS Code of Professional Ethics, we can transform it from simply being a ‘feature’ of hiring us into a true ‘benefit’ to our client! To help us make this transformation, we need to look at the articles in our Code of Professional Ethics through a different lens.

In the book, Business Ethics: Decision Making for Personal Integrity & Social Responsibility, authors Hartman and Desjardins outline three conditions necessary for an ethically legitimate exchange. For speakers, we have a specific name for the exchange… we call it a booking.

Hartman and Desjardins root their argument in two ethical philosophies. The first comes from the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant who stressed that ethical outcomes are only achieved when humans are treated with dignity and respect as autonomous beings. In other words, people are treated as an end and never as a means to an end. And secondly, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill suggest that the ethical outcome is the one that produces the greatest good for the greatest number.

Therefore when a client books a speaker, three conditions must be met for the booking to be considered ethical. They are:
1) Consent is informed and voluntary (client and speaker)
2) Both parties receive benefits (client and speaker)
3) The values and interests of parties not directly involved in the transaction are not jeopardized.

Let’s look at how these conditions apply to each of the Articles in our Code of Ethics.

CAPS Code of Professional Ethics


Article 1. Representation
The CAPS member shall accurately represent qualifications and experience in all oral and written communications.  The CAPS member shall not exaggerate his/her qualifications or experience.  Promotional materials in any format must include descriptions that are based in truth and fact.

Condition 1 - in order for clients to make informed decisions they must know the truth. 

Condition 2 - clients will not get the benefits if they are not true




Article 2. Professionalism
The CAPS member shall conduct his/her business in a professional manner and will not use language or materials that would be offensive to others or discredit the speaking profession.

Condition 3 - speakers not directly involved in the booking cannot be jeopardized and must be treated with dignity.



Article 3. Intellectual Property
The CAPS member shall not use the intellectual property of another unless granted written permission by the originator and/or owner of the material, save and except for where the fair usage of material applies under copyright laws.

Condition 3 - speakers not involved in the booking cannot unknowingly have their intellectual property used.




Article 4. Professional Courtesy
The CAPS member shall treat other professional colleagues with the highest standards of professional courtesy, dignity and respect.

Conditions 1 & 3 - this is in line with Kant’s assertion that humans must be treated with dignity.


Article 5. Confidentiality
The CAPS member shall maintain and respect the confidentiality of all business or personal affairs of clients, agents and other speakers.

Respecting confidentiality prevents: 
Condition 1 -  the involuntary distribution of matters related to others.

Condition 3 - damaging the reputation of others.

Article 6. Unfair Practices
The CAPS member shall be vigilant against fraud or unfair practices and shall endeavor to eliminate from the speaking profession all practices that might bring discredit to the profession.


Unfair or fraudulent practices will:
Condition 1 - lead to uninformed and possibly involuntary decisions by potential clients.

Condition 2 - reduce or eliminate any benefits for the client.

Condition 3 - cause harm to the speaking profession.


Article 7. Marketplace Access
The CAPS member shall not participate in any agreement to unfairly limit or restrain the access of others to the marketplace, in accordance with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by Canadian law.


Condition 1 - deciding to book a speaker must be voluntary and it cannot be forced or coerced by marketplace activities.

Condition 2 - control of the market can diminish the benefits a client receives.

Condition 3 - controlling access to the market impacts other speakers and those who hire speakers.

Notice how some of the articles apply to stakeholders not directly involved in the booking, while some really focus on the idea of human dignity and others apply to the value created as a result of the booking. If you analyze our Code more deeply, you will probably make connections that are not mentioned in the table above.

Why not use the code to your advantage? Don’t just say you abide by a Code of Professional Ethics (that’s a feature of your offering). Take it up a notch. Use the code to differentiate yourself in ways that benefit your clients.

Steve is a member of CAPS Atlantic and can be found at


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