Professional Licensing & Code Carry
Ethics Beyond Personal Standards
As an active volunteer in the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists
(CSEG) and APEGGA, Elaine Honsberger, P.Geoph., considers the two organizations
to have critical, but distinct, roles.
The APEGGA Councillor believes CSEG as a technical society is geared
toward improving and building members' technical skills. APEGGA's core
mandate is to serve society and protect of the public by regulating the
In the case of a geoscientist, the risk posed to public well-being may
seem less immediate than in the case of negligence by an engineer designing
However, geoscientists' work also affects the public safety -- for instance,
in avoiding and mitigating environmental degradation. Also important is
ensuring that public welfare -- including that of shareholders -- is not
imperiled through shoddy work or unethical conduct when appraising or
evaluating companies' assets or prospects.
"As geoscientists we are involved in the presentation of data, and
the reviewing of data, including quick assessments, on the value of companies,"
Elaine Honsberger notes.
She is confident most geoscientists act ethically, even when they are
not meeting the legal requirement of belonging to APEGGA. But she sees
added value in belonging to an organization with a legislated Code of
Ethics, something grounded in more than one individual's personal values.
"APEGGA gives me a Code of Ethics which I have agreed to follow.
That's valuable to me if I come into a situation where I or someone else
is asked to do something which I perceive to be unethical. It is one thing
to say 'Elaine Honsberger's ethics don't allow that'. That really doesn't
matter. It's a different thing for me to say 'I'm a member of a professional
organization and the activities you are suggesting my colleagues or I
conduct are unethical according to our professional association.' It's
quite defendable and that's very helpful."
She adds: "Being a professional member is not going to stop all
unethical conduct in Alberta. While most of us are law-abiding citizens,
if we're in a situation where we know that our actions could come under
scrutiny and our livelihood could be at stake, we might reconsider some
of our actions. For me it should be reassuring to others knowing I've
promised to live up to the standards."
Beyond providing a standard for personal behaviour, APEGGA also should
be where geoscientists turn once they see others acting unethically.
"I think we, as geoscientists, should be using APEGGA more to follow
up and to question how we conduct ourselves. We have to use the processes
more if we want to see what APEGGA's influence can be. We should use the
Association for what it's there for. I don't think we are doing that enough."