June 14, 2013

Forum of Canadian Ombudsman Drafts Statement of Ethical Principles

FCO, the professional association of government, private industry and higher education Ombudsmen in Canada, has drafted a Statement of Ethical Principles. The document culminates a year of work by the FCO Board to develop and promote professional standards of conduct and a code of ethics.

The Statement sets out five key principles:
  • Independence;
  • Impartiality;
  • Fairness;
  • Confidentiality; and
  • Credibility.
FCO is seeking input from its members and hosted plenary session at its conference this week to discuss the importance of this kind of discussion for the Ombuds profession and the FCO members. (FCO News.)

Related posts: Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons Publishes Standards of Practice; FCO and ACCUO Post Agenda for 2013 Conference in Halifax; Forum of Canadian Ombudsman Offers Certificate Program.

Here's a comparison of the primary ethical standards adopted by three North American Ombuds associations:

Independence       X             X             X             X      
Impartiality X X X X
Fairness X

Confidentiality X X X X
Credibility X




  1. Having attended the FCO conference this week, and been present at the session where the the Statement of Ethical Principles was submitted for consideration, I was impressed most by three things:

    1. The care and consideration, as well as efficiency, with which the "drafting" committee generated this very promising document;

    2. The supportive and civil way in which the whole body of conference attendees recieved the draft, raised questions, consideration, and distinct perspectives; and

    3. The core focus of the entire effort being balanced between strengthening the field of ombudsing in Canada AND ensuring better more valuable service to community of ombuds program users and authorizing bodies.

    FCO/ACCUO held a very meaningful conference of which this effort was but one small part. I hope in the future there might be more exchanges, joint conferences, and cross pollination among the varied associations from both sides of the Canada/U.S. border. I would gladly take part and lend a hand to make that happen.

    On a personal note, the degree of support and kindness I received as a guest in attendance was positively heartening. In a world where personal kindness and thoughtfulness is rare, I enjoyed a tremendous abundance this week. My sincere thanks to everyone involved.

    John W. Zinsser
    Co-founder and Managing Pricipla - Pacifica Human Communications, LLC.
    Guest Lecturer - Columbia University, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program
    Twitter - OmbudsAmbasador

  2. Damn! Found (and fixed) typo in the headline one month later. "Prinicipals" should have been "Principles."