Ethical conflicts are best resolved by using decision making strategies that assist you in:
- Defining the ethical issue(s),
- Identifying the interests or duties that appear to conflict,
- Clarifying the implications of differing choices,
- Assessing competing claims or interests, evaluating the consequences of each option, and
- Determining which duties or interest take precedence.
In general, when ethical principles appear to conflict and there is no clear-cut right response, you must choose which principle takes priority. In many cases, having to place one ethical principle above another does not mean failing to observe and respect other ethical principles, particularly in the process that you follow to make your choice.
In the case of the Code of Ethics, certain duties and responsibilities under the Code are paramount: that is, they override any of the other ones. This is the case with your duty to safeguard public safety, health and welfare, and to protect the environment. These duties must take precedence over others, such as those arising in connection with dealings and relationships with others, like clients, employers and colleagues, and those arising from your own interests.
Even in such cases, it is possible to act with fairness, honesty, courtesy, and good faith. For example, in a situation where you have safety concerns relating to client or employer operations, notifying them of your concerns, and your duty to act if issues are not resolved respects your relationship to that client or employer without compromising your duty to act to ensure safety.
The organization’s Code of Ethics is your primary resource for matters relating to your ethical duties and obligations. In addition to the statement of general principles that govern the conduct of registrants, the Code of Ethics sets out specific duties that are owed in dealings and relationships with others, such as clients, colleagues, and employers, and in relation to particular situations such as conflicts of interest or where public safety is a concern. The Guidelines to the Code of Ethics gives additional guidance on how the Code is applied.