Did you know that HECA has a “Whistleblower Policy” that protects you when and if you report an ethical violation (or perceived violation)? Here are steps to take when an independent educational consultant behaves badly, unethically or unprofessionally:
- If you know them and are comfortable speaking with them about the perceived issue, try discussing the issue with them one-on-one.
- If you are uncomfortable, contact the chair of Standards and Ethics. The chair along with the Ethics Committee, and if necessary the HECA Board will conduct a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, censor or expel the offender. This has happened, not frequently, and typically without any publicity.
- If the offender is not a HECA member but belongs to an organization with a clear Code of Ethical behavior (IECA, NACAC, or a regional ACAC) you could and should report the Independent to the membership organization that s/he belongs to. Regional ACAC’s Ethics Committees are called AP Committees for Admissions Practices. Twice in the past year HECA has reported to regional and national AP Committees the actions and words of others (once an admissions officer at a selective college, and once another organization of IEC’s.) In both cases the behavior was corrected and appropriate apologies were made. The misbehaviors are on record, should they be repeated.
- More difficult is if the offender is not affiliated with any organization. The best you can do is to remind clients in your promotional materials, presentations, and contracts that you do belong to an organization of professionals that is governed by and subscribes to a code of Standards and Ethics. This does set you apart from others who do not, and should be assuring to an ethical consumer. Occasionally, when a client may ask you to do something that is unethical you are welcome to explain why you are not permitted to. Parents, school based counselors, and colleges alike should be aware that HECA members adhere to a strict and specific ethical code.
This winter, an alert consumer in Virginia contacted HECA to ask if a person was indeed a member. He used the HECA logo and claimed membership on his website, but when she did her due diligence his name did not appear as a HECA member on the HECA website. An investigation determined that he once was a member, but was not currently. She did not hire him; and he has removed any claim to membership.
Bottom line: With constant effort we may continue to be known as a highly ethical organization with an ethical membership. “If you see something, say something.”