As an Administrative Consultant, you are responsible for handling your clients’ sensitive information. This may make some potential clients a little dubious about collaborating with an AC especially one they may never have the opportunity to meet face-to-face.
When you begin your Administrative Consultant business, it is something for you to bear in mind because it affects the way in which you pitch your services and ideas to a potential client. Your client will need assurances that his own business is safe in your (hopefully) capable hands; after all by contracting your services a client puts a lot of trust and faith in you and that should be rewarded. Only you can reassure your client of your ethical code by doing your homework and reviewing your country’s Data Protection policies, Confidentiality Acts etc.
This is not really AC specific but still a good reminder about how we should behave in a professional and ethical manner. As a service provider it is vital you take the following points to heart:
- By law you are NOT permitted to disclose client affairs and information to third parties unless it is vital to the work taking place or unless you have your client’s express authorization to do so.
- This law is not limited to current clients. It goes way further than that and former client’s information is also protected.
- You should inform you client of your company’s make up. If you have a team, your client should be made aware of this. The same goes if you outsource certain tasks to a third-party and if this is true in your case, it is down to you to ensure they have a strict ethical work policy too.
- Before acting on possible sensitive issues, ensure your client is in agreement with your suggestion and that it doesn’t go against his own moral code.
- There are exceptional circumstances in which you may be obligated to disclose your client’s information:
- Government requirement
- Tax office intervention
- Under the Money Laundering and Terrorist Act
- Under the Children Act etc
Ways to Ensure Your Client is Protected:
- Do not store your client’s paperwork and information in a place easily visible to others.
- Install security measures on your computer or laptop with passwords so that the information cannot be accessed.
- Consider installing an alarm system on your property where your files are kept.
- Make sure your email service provider is on a secure server.
- Ensure that others on your team know how to handle confidential matters.
Certain professions have a higher level of responsibility such as lawyers, financial institutions, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and priests but that doesn’t mean that as a Consultant your professionalism should be any less.
Setting Your Own Standard of Work:
As an Administrative Consultant you are able to help other businesses on any number of tasks. There is practically no limit to how a AC can intervene in another person’s company but does that mean that you should? It is up to you to gauge your own capabilities and skills to determine the type of tasks you can perform to a professional degree. How unethical would it be to lead a client to believe that you’d be “perfect” for the job if you don’t have the skills he requires? Setting your own standard of work would also include your level of commitment to a client and the pride you take in the final result of your work. Turning in shoddy work only reflects badly on the AC profession as a whole so your actions don’t just have a negative effect on you but on all Consultants out there. Only you can set the standard to which you business is to work towards and show a level of integrity, not only towards clients but towards other AC’s also.
“But I Just Borrowed It!”:
Your ethics will come into play when dealing with other Consultants. When setting up your website for example, it is only logical for you to browse other similar sites to see what sort of information is important to include and to brainstorm for ideas but what about literally copying another AC’s content, design or other features? That is a major no no! Intellectual property covers expressions of ideas, thoughts, codes and information considered to be REAL PROPERTY which gives legal rights to authors for example for their writings or scientists to their discoveries.
Stealing another persons work is a moral attack on somebody else’s property and cannot be tolerated.
Many AC’s take a pledge in which they openly state their ethics when dealing with client property as well as with others in their profession, even taking exams to show their level of commitment and dedication to the cause. You can look for the AC’s ethics pledge on their websites for that little extra guarantee to the person who allows them access to their personal data.
Be proud of your profession and choose the Ethical Approach. If you’re truly in the business for the long-haul and not just for a quick buck, the moral way of thinking will only benefit you in the end.