The Code of Governance indicates that committees should act at all times according to high ethical standards.
NCVO has published some Charity Ethical Principles aimed at charities, their governing bodies, staff and volunteers to support them in recognising and resolving ethical issues and conflicts, and make charities a safer place. The principles are:
- Beneficiaries first
- Right to be safe
The Committee on Standards in Public Life is a Non Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Cabinet Office. It has produced seven standards which underpin the conduct expected in public life. These are:
- Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest
- Integrity- Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships
- Objectivity – Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias
- Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this
- Openness – Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing
- Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful
- Leadership – Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
These standards have been designed for anyone who works as a public office-holder. While management committee members are not public appointees they are the stewards of the resources of the charities they lead. These standards provide a useful starting point for considering the ethical behaviour required of board members.
For more information please see the Committee for Standards in Public Life website.