A code of ethics for IT professionals is like a roadmap for a journey. While the roadmap clearly marks the destination and the path to reach it, it’s the professionals who must embark on the journey, making decisions at each fork in the road and staying the course. Without embarking on the journey, the roadmap remains just a guide, and the ethical standards it represents will never become the lived reality of the profession.

When a new code of ethics was approved by the board of the Institute for IT Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), the Social & Ethics Committee (SEC) decided to act as a guide on this journey, seeking collaboration to raise awareness about the code and offer education, so professionals can confidently navigate their ethical path. 

The Roadmap: IITPSA Code of Ethics

In 2021, the IITPSA board approved the new Code of Ethics and Code of Good Practice, as proposed by the SEC, then chaired by Moira de Roche. The new IITPSA Code of Ethics is largely modelled on the international Code of Ethics adopted by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) in 2020.

The code is a basis and guideline for methods, best practices, standards and frameworks, as Wouter Brongeest and Liesbeth Ruoff-Van Welzen explain in Code of Ethics: a solid foundation for IT professionals. They share how the IFIP Code of Ethics is the outcome of collaboration and based on good practice from various countries. 

But how do we make our members aware of the principles in the code, and assist them in applying these principles to their daily IT practice? 

Guiding the Journey: Raising Awareness through Columns & Webinars

We emphasised professional pride, integrity, and reputation through webinars and contributions to the IITPSA newsletter and social media, exploring how ethics shape the IT profession and explaining how members can utilise ethical principles in their work.

The columns, which are archived in the “Ethics in IT” corner, cover intriguing topics such as “Ethics and IT Science in Sport,” “Digital Ethics and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” and “Cyberspace During Wartime: The Fifth Common Space.” 

We hosted webinars featuring expert speakers on “The Role of Ubuntu in the Global AI Ethics Discourse,” “Responsible AI in Africa,” “Green Blockchain,” and “Exploring Sustainability in Digital Media.”

Creating Milestones: Ethics in IT video 

Next, we produced a short animated video called “Ethics in IT” in close collaboration with IITPSA management and marketing. This video can be shown chapter meetings and tradeshows, during webinars and on social media. It raises awareness among our members and other IT professionals, promoting the IITPSA as the community to belong to when you want to be part of ethical digital transformation.

To add weight to the media campaign for the Ethics in IT video which kicked off in April, we asked our members who hold the Professional CIO (Pr.CIO) and Professional Member (PMIITPSA) designations why ethics has come to the fore and what ethics in ICT looks like in practice. We share their insightful contributions, ranging from the changing role of CIOs to ethical communication relating to Bitcoin investments, in our digital marketing and public relations activities.  

Continuing the Journey: Education 

With the raised awareness for the code, our next goal is the development of a micro-learning course, in collaboration with members active in academia. The course will unpack the ethical principles and provide case studies. Members who complete the course will be accredited with CPD points.

Going Global

Like the development of the IFIP Code of Ethics was based on good practice from various countries, we look forward to learning how other member organisations are faring on this implementation journey!

Josine Overdevest is MD of Flying Cows of Jozi, Non-executive director and Chair of the Social & Ethics Committee at the IITPSA and Director of the IFIP IP3 Global Industry Council.