Home Concepts Ethics When Ethics Could Collide: Nine Practices

When Ethics Could Collide: Nine Practices

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When a client has different cultural influencers at play in their life compared to the coach, how does the coach support the client while holding the cultural influencers they value as a citizen of a specific country, their professional code of practice AND those of the client?  For example, if a coach who lives in a country where women are not considered equal is working with a female client who lives in a country where women are considered equal and their professional code of practice recognizes gender equality, how can they ensure they support the client in a way that allows them to be whole, feel equal and able to explore all possibilities that could be available to them?  Alternatively, the coach believes in and supports gender equality while the client lives in a country where gender equality is not recognized.  How does the coach deal with these fundamental differences in cultural and ethical practice?

Recently I was in conversation with a group of coaches from different countries.  Someone in the US had just completed a talk at a conference that she was paid to speak at.  She shared that she had decided at the last minute to take her book to sell at the end of it.  During the talk she decided she had an opportunity to sell her book,  and possibly connect with a few people who would like to be her clients so she decided to also offer free coaching sessions to people who would like to participate.  I asked her if she had discussed this with the conference organizer and she said no, that was not necessary.  Marketing was expected of speakers at conferences.   I said that as far as I knew, in Canada, this would be considered a conflict of interest and ethically not appropriate.  The person from India agreed with me while the one from Turkey did not see anything wrong with this.  Here we were, four people all speaking the same language and yet we had 2 different interpretations of one act.  We all adhere to the same professional Code of Ethics and yet based on cultural influencers we embrace from our countries, the interpretation of ethical practices can be different.

This experience led me to think about the future of coaching.  Coaching has become a global profession where many coaches work in countries they have never traveled to, countries they can point to on a map, countries with customs, culture and ethical practices unknown to them. How does this lack of knowledge and understanding influence the coaching relationship?  How does a coach from a different country understand from a cultural and thus ethical perspective how they ensure they are supportive of their client(s) at all times?

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