Your Association, as well as supporting you, expects you to act in line with this code and with our shared values.
By joining the PSA, all our members agree to follow this Code of Ethics in their work as a professional speaker.
As a member, if you are asked to provide details of your professional conduct or any similar agreement, as part of a booking, you may provide your client with a link to this page.
The PSA recognises that context is important. Different situations carry different expectations from audiences and speakers alike. For example, a “stand up” comedy event is a different context from a training course, both of which may involve members of the PSA acting in their professional capacity.
The expectations your association has of you during your membership and how your association will deal with any issues raised under this code of ethics are detailed below.
Professional Conduct, Respect and Striving for Excellence
Members of the PSA share the values of respect and striving for excellence. This means members should act professionally at all times they are representing, or referencing the Professional Speaking Association (“the PSA”) or when working in their speaking business.
We are one profession, the speaking profession. We cover, and respect, many topics and opinions, many ideas, experiences and backgrounds. In line with our values of connection and respect we will always value each other’s contributions and work professionally, collectively and individually with everyone our speaking activity impacts.
The Reputation of the Profession
Our collective reputation is one of our most valuable assets. The actions of every Associate, Member and Fellow (“Members”) of the Professional Speaking Association affect our collective reputation.
You should always:
- Ensure your speaking business is covered by appropriate public liability and professional indemnity insurance
- Comply with all relevant laws, regulations, and tax obligations in connection with operating their speaking business
- Hold the necessary licences and permissions to use images, music, video, and other content used in their presentations
- Ensure that terms and remuneration have been mutually agreed with your clients and an appropriate contract is in place before any work is undertaken.
- Act in accordance with this code
- Alert the PSA of any situation which you feel might adversely affect the reputation of the PSA, which you cannot resolve.
You should always conduct yourself professionally, taking due account of legality, common standards of decency and context. Be polite and do not intentionally insult, belittle or offend others (including on social media and other online interactions). This includes, but is not limited to:
- Making threats of, or using, any form of physical violence
- Persistent or unwelcome encroachment of personal space
- Unwelcome sexual attention in any form
- Emotional abuse
- Making or using inappropriate discriminatory jokes and language
- Personal insults, especially those using discriminatory terms;
- Blackmail, defamation, or seeking to harm the reputation or business of others.
- Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behaviour.
If you are subjected to any of these behaviours, or observe behaviour that is causing discomfort to others, which cannot be safely addressed at the time, then you should report the matter as soon as you can to the PSA, and, if appropriate, the relevant authorities.
Bullying and Harassment
Although there is no legal definition of bullying, it can be described as unwanted behaviour from a person or group that is either:
- offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting
- an abuse or misuse of power that undermines,
- humiliates, or causes physical or emotional harm to someone
The bullying might:
- be a regular pattern of behaviour or a one-off incident
- happen face-to-face, on social media, in emails or calls
- happen at work or in other work-related situations
- not always be obvious or noticed by others
Examples of bullying at work could include:
- someone has spread a malicious rumour about you
- someone keeps putting you down in meetings
- your boss keeps giving you a heavier workload than everyone else
- someone has put humiliating, offensive or threatening comments or photos on social media
- someone at the same or more junior level as you keeps undermining your authority
The Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as unwanted conduct related to a relevant
protected characteristic that has the purpose or effect of violating the complainant’s dignity,
or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the
Employers can be vicariously liable for discriminatory acts committed by their employees,
but may be able to defend such claims using the “reasonable steps” defence. To do so, the
employer will need to ensure that they had robust policies dealing with equality and
diversity in the workplace, anti-harassment and bullying, (including sexual harassment).
These policies must be made known to all employees and employees must receive regular
training. In addition, complaints should be taken seriously, investigated, and appropriate
action should be taken.
The PSA is committed to providing an environment that is comfortable and free from all forms of bullying and harassment.
We will take all such complaints seriously and if you make a complaint of bullying or harassment, you will be protected and will not be penalised or victimised in any way.
Some bullying or harassment will constitute unlawful discrimination, e.g. if it relates to a person’s sex, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, age etc.
We can all find strength in diversity. Different people have different perspectives on issues, and that can be valuable for solving problems or generating new ideas. Being unable to understand why someone holds a viewpoint doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. Don’t forget that we all make mistakes and blaming each other doesn’t get us anywhere. Instead, focus on resolving issues, or respectfully accepting the co-existence of differing opinions and perspectives.
Whistleblowing is when an individual knows, or suspects, that there is some wrongdoing occurring within the Association and alerts the organisation or the relevant authority accordingly.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 gives protection to individuals who make a qualifying disclosure when they reasonably believe it is in the public interest for them to do so.
If you know, or suspect, that some wrongdoing is occurring within the Association, you should raise the matter immediately following the complaints procedure detailed below.
Raising Concerns or Making Complaints
It is important that anyone, whether a speaker, booker, client, member of an audience or a member of the public who interacts with any member of the PSA can raise a complaint easily and without fear of retaliation or being ignored. That can be done by emailing [email protected], by speaking to the Ethics officer, or a member of the Board of the PAS who will pass on your concerns to the Ethics officer.
We know it takes courage to come forward and share concerns and we treat all concerns with appropriate vigour and fairness. We won’t permit retaliation against anyone who raises questions or reports concerns about Professional Speaking activities.
Our intention is to be as transparent as possible whilst protecting the innocent from perceptions of wrong doing, and we will treat all members equally at all times.
Remit of the PSA
The Ethics Officer will investigate all complaints and may also review any action by a member or members which has brought, or which may bring, the PSA into disrepute, whether a complaint has been made or not.
Investigations will be conducted confidentially by all parties until concluded.
The PSA is not an arbiter of personal or individual disputes between Members or between Members and their clients on commercial matters.
Ethics Review Process
Where a complaint is raised about a member or actions by a member or members the complainant and the person accused both have a right to address the facts and to be given a fair hearing. The process will be:
- If evidence to support the complaint is required, then the relevant parties will be notified to request evidence
- The PSA will validate that the matter is within its remit to investigate (and advise the parties to the matter if it is not)
- If any actions are potentially illegal then they will be referred to the appropriate authorities
- The parties will have an opportunity to comment. This may be done via any reasonable medium, i.e. in writing, in person, via the phone
- The PSA may ask for any additional supporting information that is required and Members must not unreasonably withhold access to that information
- A decision on the outcome of the complaint will be delivered in writing within an appropriate timeframe
- Where the complaint is upheld the PSA may provide guidance to the Member, or impose a sanction(*)
- Any member issued with a formal sanction will be offered the right to appeal.
(*) As a professional membership organisation the PSA’s sanctions are limited to:
- A formal warning
- Temporary or permanent downgrading or suspension of membership level; and
- Expulsion from the Association.
It is our policy that any member who is found guilty by a crown court of any serious criminal offence whilst a member will be dismissed from the PSA without entitlement to any refund of membership fees paid. You may join the Association if you have been discharged from a conviction for a serious criminal offence, provided that you are no longer on probation nor released on license and are not on the sex offenders register.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact our Ethics Officer for a confidential conversation.
Experience or witness a problem you wish to report?
If you see any member of the PSA acting in a way in which you believe does not meet our Code of Ethics, or that makes you feel uncomfortable, please contact our Ethics Officer in total confidence. You do not need to be a member of the PSA to report a problem to us.