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Your Communications Are a Reflection of Your Ethical Leadership

Navigating ethical communication with the help of Tenet 9

by Jessica Cowles |  | PM MAGAZINE – ARTICLE

Much has changed in the world and in the local government management profession in the 50 years since members voted to approve Tenet 9 on communications. This language reflected norms in 1972, when many technological advances like social media were still very far away!

In our most recent Code of Ethics efforts, ICMA membership recommended reviewing Tenets 1, 4, 9, and 11 of the Code through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nearly three years of feedback on the Code culminated with 84% of voting members approving changes to the tenet language. This election had the distinction of having the highest participation rate in ICMA’s online voting history with over 2,500 or 32% of membership casting a vote.

Tenet 9 is about active engagement and constructive communication, ensuring that all members of a community have a voice in the governance process and the opportunity to be heard. This principle in the Code builds and maintains public trust and confidence through professional management practices that enhance a member’s communications.

Tenet 9 of the ICMA Code of Ethics

This revised Tenet 9 language now reads: “Keep the community informed on local government affairs. Encourage and facilitate active engagement and constructive communication between community members and all local government officials.”

The board added a guideline on engagement to Tenet 9 in June 2023 for members to help understand their ethical obligations relative to this language: “Members should ensure community members can actively engage with their local government as well as eliminate barriers and support involvement of the community in the governance process.”