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The importance of ethics in project management 8 min read
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The project management profession has specific values that leaders in the field should adhere to in order to be successful. Understanding what these values are and how to apply them is critical to working in project management.

This article defines ethics in project management and looks at some key values published by the Project Management Institute. It also touches on how the right project tools can help you maintain ethics while completing successful projects, and we’ll even suggest a few of those tools to get you started.

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What is ethics in project management?

Ethics in project management comprises the values of honesty, responsibility, respect and fairness that are central to the project management profession. Project management professionals must adhere to the Code of Ethics set out by the Project Management Institute (PMI) to ensure the decision-making process is honorable and choices are made with the interest of all parties in mind, rather than the individual.

PMI Code of Ethics

The PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is developed and administered by the Project Management Institute. The code is based on the four pillars mentioned above and is designed to reduce risk, increase the chance of positive results, build trust among team members, and determine long-term project success. According to the PMI Code of Ethics, the best outcome is always the one that’s most ethical.

Why is ethics important in project management?

Following a code of ethics helps prevent a conflict of interest between individuals by putting the best interests of stakeholders and the organization first. Closely adhering to the ideals set out in the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct helps create a sense of unity among team members and results in higher rates of successful project outcomes.

Managing projects with ethical integrity can sometimes take a bit of skill and knowledge. Starting with some tried-and-true tips for ethical project management can help.

Tips for integrating ethics into your projects

There are several key ways to start integrating ethics into your project management approach daily. These tips can be applied to project management in all fields and help ensure fairness and accountability.

Use newly created assets

If you recently started working in project management at a new company, you’re likely used to a specific set of templates or way of working at your old workplace. While you may have a system that’s efficient based on documentation you used previously, you’ll want to avoid using templates from an old workplace at your new one.

Your previous company worked hard to develop a way of working that set it apart from the competition, so you’ll need to build on what you learned there and develop new working templates for your future projects based on what you liked about the ones you previously used. Consider using templates from as a starting point for your project management needs.

Notify your team about conflicts of interest

In a professional environment, it’s important to be transparent when a conflict of interest occurs to avoid making decisions that are self-serving. If a company you’ve invested in or someone you know personally is pitching to your workplace, you have an ethical responsibility to remove yourself from the decision-making process and notify your colleagues or superiors of the situation.

Provide full disclosure

Always give complete, accurate information from a meeting or conversation with a client or colleague Failing to provide information about the current status of a project because it’s problematic is a form of dishonesty, and this goes against the values laid out in the PMI Code of Ethics.

Speak up

As a leader in the project management field, you have an ethical duty to stand up for what’s right. This means addressing inappropriate conduct in the workplace including harassment, insulting language or unethical decision-making about product representation. Adhering to ethical values means saying something about a situation even when it’s inconvenient or difficult to do so. Doing what’s right isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary for project managers.

Pay people what they are owed

Many ethical issues in the modern workplace center around fair and equitable pay. To be ethical in project management, your team should always be provided fair compensation for their work. This doesn’t mean everyone receives the same amount of compensation for their work, but they should be paid based on their level of experience and the value they bring to the team. Once you agree on a pay rate for an employee, they’re owed that amount of money for the work they do. Asking your team for “favors” in the form of free work is a real-world example of unethical behavior.

Take personal bias out of your management style 

The importance of ethics as a project manager is clear: You must treat your team members equitably at all times. This means not playing favorites based on personal bias, such as who’s more fun to talk to or go out to lunch with. Ethical choices aren’t made based on your personal preferences. You can champion a team member above the rest only if their work ethic sets them apart and they’re an example of what other team members should be striving for.

Avoid ethical dilemmas in project management by limiting the personal relationships you develop with your team; keep your workplace professional and focused on the common goal.

It’s easier to integrate ethics into project management when you’re working with the right tools. Tools that support communication, collect information about time and resources to backup invoicing, and automate processes to keep teams moving forward are helpful to the ethics and the outcomes of your projects.

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Leveraging for ethical project management

Using as a project management tool is a simple way to support ethical practices in the workplace. Because our templates are available to the general public, there’s no question of intellectual copyright issues in utilizing these layouts and designs in the workplace. All our templates are fully customizable, ensuring no two teams have the exact same layout for the project plan or trackers. We help you maintain the individuality and integrity of your team and project by giving you full organizational control of how you manage your template on our Work OS.

Building your project plans and tracking documents from templates on also helps reduce the risk of using templates from a previous workplace, ensuring you’re ethical in project planning. We have hundreds of templates you can start with, and we’ve suggested a few below.

Project management plan template

The project management plan template from is a visual and intuitive template to help managers plan their projects in a user-friendly layout. The template is fully customizable on’s Work OS, allowing you to receive updates and track progress in real-time. After downloading the template, you customize it by adding action items and organizing them based on the level of priority. Then, assign specific team members to each task for every stage of the project.

Single project template

The single project template is useful for tracking deadlines, budgets and task assignments in one location. The template allows you to drag and drop over 30 columns to customize your workflow. Set up automated emails to notify task assignees of due dates and receive notifications when someone completes an assignment.

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FAQs about ethics in project management 

Why is fairness important in project management?

Ethics and ethical project and portfolio management depend on fairness to avoid the influence of personal bias in the decision management. To remain ethical in project management, managers should focus on process fairness rather than a “fair” outcome. Process fairness doesn’t ensure everyone will like the outcome, but it means everyone on the team feels they have a chance to provide input, their voices are heard and all employees on the team are treated with respect.

What is an example of a Code of Ethics?

A real-world example of a code of ethics is a company’s Confidentiality and Privacy policy. This means an organization has an obligation to protect an individual’s personal information and not disclose it to another entity for personal gain or without the permission of the individual.

Manage projects productively and ethically via

Confidently approaching projects knowing that you have the resources to execute on them can help your teams get more done. But you must pair that productivity with ethical business practices to remain competitive in modern markets.

From templates and communication tools that keep your teams on track to automations that help you save time for the client, provides everything you need for ethical, productive project managemnt.

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