This working group is chaired by Catherine Arrow, FCIPR MPRINZ CPRP, GA Board member, New Zealand and Toni Muzi Falconi, Past Chair, Global Alliance, Italy.
Understanding personal, organizational and professional responsibility
Individuals, organizations and professions bear responsibilities to society – bringing ethical and sustainability considerations into the decisions and actions we undertake every day.
What is our professional responsibility and what form should that take for public relations and communication practitioners now and in the future?
These questions mark the start of our exploration of the ‘responsibility’ sphere of the Melbourne Mandate draft. Your thoughts and comments on the subject will help form the basis of a proposition to be discussed at the World Public Relations Forum in November this year – you can find out more on the process here.
The responsibility sphere has three strands – ethics, citizenship and sustainability – to be considered together rather than as isolated topics.
If we consider that ethics covers moral character and behaviour, citizenship is centred on place, contribution and protection while sustainability, as the capacity to endure, covers a raft of economic, environmental, legal and technological considerations, how does responsibility encompass them all?
How do we convey to others the values and practices that inform the notion of responsibility – be it professional, organisational or societal – as it relates to public relations and communication management? And how, in the future, will our practices reflect our promises?
Inevitably, the discussion on responsibility will converge with the culture and character spheres, as no single element can be viewed in isolation but, as a starting point, Toni Muzi Falconi has this observation:
“Our practice has reached a certain degree of maturity and consolidation, so it is time we take upon ourselves full responsibility for the many consequences, both positive and negative, of our actions. Public relations has a powerful impact on opinions, behaviours and attitudes and – as with any other profession – this can be for good or bad, depending on the situation and the interpretation of others.
For a public relations professional there are different levels of responsibility to face; personal, professional, organisational and societal. In the end, the individual must find a balanced conjunction between them all, as related to each diverse situation. But beyond the individual, there are three other subjects that have a relevant stake in what we do; the professional community at large, the organisation we work for and society at large. As much as the second is obvious and the third appears blurred, the first is usually overlooked...”
The outcome of our dialogue could take the form of a statement of responsibilities, or it might result in a responsibilities checklist that practitioners or organisations might use when considering a course of action. One thing it should do is provide insights for those inside and outside the profession as to the shape of responsible practice.
Here, at the beginning, the onus lies with you, the public relations and communication profesional, to share your thoughts on current and future responsibilities.
We very much look forward to your contribution.