Code of Ethics, Members, Volunteers, and Staff

The ACEC Code of Ethics is composed of five main parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Key Definitions
  3. ACEC Core Values and Ethical Principles
  4. Ethical Standards
  5. Pledge

1. Introduction

The ACEC Code of Ethics describes the core values of the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches (ACEC Core Values), and ethical principles and ethical standards of behavior for all ACEC Professionals (see definitions). Meeting these ACEC ethical standards of behavior is a  basic ACEC core coaching competencies (ACEC Core Competencies). That is “Demonstrates ethical practice: understands and consistently applies coaching ethics and standards.”

The ACEC Code of Ethics serves to uphold the integrity of ACEC and the coaching profession by:

  • Setting standards of conduct consistent with ACEC core values and ethical principles.
  • Guiding ethical reflection, education, and decision-making
  • Adjudicating and preserving ACEC coach standards through the ACEC Ethical Conduct Review (ECR) process
  • Providing the basis for ACEC ethics training 

The ACEC Code of Ethics applies when ACEC Professionals represent themselves as such, in any kind of coaching-related interaction. This is regardless of whether a coaching Relationship (see definitions) has been established. This Code articulates the ethical obligations of ACEC Professionals who are acting in their different roles as coach, coach supervisor, mentor coach, trainer, or serving in an ACEC Leadership role, as well as Support Personnel (see definitions).

Although the Ethical Conduct Review (ECR) process is only applicable to ACEC Professionals, as is the Pledge, the ACEC Staff and volunteers are also committed to ethical conduct and the Core Values and Ethical Principles that underpin this ACEC code of ethics.

The challenge of working ethically means that members will inevitably encounter situations that require responses to unexpected issues, resolution of dilemmas and solutions to problems. This Code of Ethics is intended to assist those persons subject to the Code by directing them to the variety of ethical factors that may need to be taken into consideration and helping to identify alternative ways of approaching ethical behavior.

ACEC Professionals who accept the Code of Ethics strive to be ethical, even when doing so involves making difficult decisions or acting courageously.

2. Key Definitions

  • “Client”—the individual or team/group being coached, the coach being mentored or supervised, or the coach or the student coach being trained.
  • “Coaching”—partnering with Clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
  • “Coaching Relationship”—a relationship that is established by the ACEC Professional and the Client(s)/Sponsor(s) under an agreement or a contract that defines the responsibilities and expectations of each party.
  • “Code”—ACEC Code of Ethics
  • “Confidentiality”—protection of any information obtained around the coaching engagement unless consent to release is given.
  • “Conflict of Interest”—a situation in which an ACEC Professional is involved in multiple interests where serving one interest could work against or be in conflict with another. This could be financial, personal or otherwise.
  • “Equality”—a situation in which all people experience inclusion, access to resources and opportunity, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, immigration status, mental or physical disability, and other areas of human difference.
  • “ACEC Professional”—individuals who represent themselves as an ACEC Member or ACEC Credential-holder, in roles including but not limited to Coach, Coach Supervisor, Mentor Coach, and Coach Trainer
  • “ACEC Staff, volunteers and consultants ”— the ACEC support personnel who are contracted by the managing company that provides professional management and administrative services on behalf of ACEC.
  • “Internal Coach”— an individual who is employed within an organization and coaches either part-time or full-time the employees of that organization.
  • “Sponsor”—the entity (including its representatives) paying for and/or arranging or defining the coaching services to be provided.
  • “Support Personnel”—the people who work for ACEC Professionals in support of their Clients.
  • “Systemic equality”—gender equality, race equality and other forms of equality that are institutionalized in the ethics, core values, policies, structures, and cultures of communities, organizations, nations and society.

3. Ethical Standards

The following ethical standards are applied to the professional activities of ACEC Professionals:

Section I—Responsibility to Clients

As an ACEC Professional, I:

1. Explain and ensure that, prior to or at the initial meeting, my coaching Client(s) and Sponsor(s) understand the nature and potential value of coaching, the nature and limits of confidentiality, financial arrangements, and any other terms of the coaching agreement.

2. Create an agreement/contract regarding the roles, responsibilities and rights of all parties involved with my Client(s) and Sponsor(s) prior to the commencement of services.

3. Maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality with all parties as agreed upon. I am aware of and agree to comply with all applicable laws that pertain to personal data and communications.

4. Have a clear understanding about how information is exchanged among all parties involved during all coaching interactions.

5. Have a clear understanding with both Clients and Sponsors or interested parties about the conditions under which information will not be kept confidential (e.g., illegal activity, if required by law, pursuant to valid court order or subpoena; imminent or likely risk of danger to self or to others; etc.). Where I reasonably believe one of the above circumstances is applicable, I may need to inform appropriate authorities.

6. When working as an Internal Coach, manage conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest with my coaching Clients and Sponsor(s) through coaching agreement(s) and ongoing dialogue. This should include addressing organizational roles, responsibilities, relationships, records, confidentiality and other reporting requirements.

7. Maintain, store and dispose of any records, including electronic files and communications, created during my professional interactions in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security and privacy and complies with any applicable laws and agreements. Furthermore, I seek to make proper use of emerging and growing technological developments that are being used in coaching services (technology-assisted coaching services) and be aware how various ethical standards apply to them.

8. Remain alert to indications that there might be a shift in the value received from the coaching relationship. If so, make a change in the relationship or encourage the Client(s)/Sponsor(s) to seek another coach, seek another professional or use a different resource.

9. Respect all parties’ right to terminate the coaching relationship at any point for any reason during the coaching process subject to the provisions of the agreement.

10. Am sensitive to the implications of having multiple contracts and relationships with the same Client(s) and Sponsor(s) at the same time in order to avoid conflict of interest situations.

11. Am aware of and actively manage any power or status difference between the Client and me that may be caused by cultural, relational, psychological or contextual issues.

12. Disclose to my Clients the potential receipt of compensation, and other benefits I may receive for referring my Clients to third parties.

13. Assure consistent quality of coaching regardless of the amount or form of agreed compensation in any relationship.

Section II—Responsibility to Practice and Performance

As an ACEC Professional, I:

14. Adhere to the ACEC Code of Ethics in all my interactions. When I become aware of a possible breach of the Code by myself or I recognize unethical behavior in another ACEC Professional, I respectfully raise the matter with those involved. If this does not resolve the matter, I refer it to a formal authority (e.g., ACEC CEO  and /or theA Executive Advisory Committee) for resolution.

15. Require adherence to the ACEC Code of Ethics by all Support Personnel.

16. Commit to excellence through continued personal, professional and ethical development.

17. Recognize my personal limitations or circumstances that may impair, conflict with or interfere with my coaching performance or my professional coaching relationships. I will reach out for support to determine the action to be taken and, if necessary, promptly seek relevant professional guidance. This may include suspending or terminating my coaching relationship(s).

18. Resolve any conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest by working through the issue with relevant parties, seeking professional assistance, or suspending temporarily or ending the professional relationship.

19. Maintain the privacy of ACEC Members and use the ACEC Member contact information (email addresses, telephone numbers, and so on) only as authorized by ACEC or the ACEC Member.

Section III—Responsibility to Professionalism

As an ACEC Professional, I:

20. Identify accurately my coaching qualifications, my level of coaching competency, expertise, experience, training, certifications and ACEC Credentials.

21. Make verbal and written statements that are true and accurate about what I offer as an ACEC Professional, what is offered by ACEC, the coaching profession, and the potential value of coaching.

22. Communicate and create awareness with those who need to be informed of the ethical responsibilities established by this Code.

23. Hold responsibility for being aware of and setting clear, appropriate and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern interactions, physical or otherwise.

24. Do not participate in any sexual or romantic engagement with Client(s) or Sponsor(s). I will be ever mindful of the level of intimacy appropriate for the relationship. I take the appropriate action to address the issue or cancel the coaching engagement.

Section IV—Responsibility to Society

As an ACEC Professional, I:

25. Avoid discrimination by maintaining fairness and equality in all activities and operations, while respecting local rules and cultural practices. This includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender expression, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability or military status.

26. Recognize and honor the contributions and intellectual property of others, only claiming ownership of my own material. I understand that a breach of this standard may subject me to legal remedy by a third party.

27. Am honest and work within recognized scientific standards, applicable subject guidelines and boundaries of my competence when conducting and reporting research.

4. The Pledge of Ethics of the ACEC Professional

As an ACEC Professional, in accordance with the Standards of the ACEC Code of Ethics, I acknowledge and agree to fulfill my ethical and legal obligations to my coaching Client(s), Sponsor(s), colleagues and to the public at large.

If I breach any part of the ACEC Code of Ethics, I agree that the ACEC in its sole discretion may hold me accountable for doing so. I further agree that my accountability to the ACEC for any breach may include sanctions, such as mandatory additional coach training or other education or loss of my ACEC Membership and/or my ACEC Credentials.

Adopted by the ACEC Board of Advisors June 2018