A new report, Engineering Ethics: maintaining society’s trust in the engineering profession, has been published today to ensure that ethical culture and practice become embedded in the engineering profession in the same way as health and safety considerations. The report has been produced by the joint Engineering Ethics Reference Group, established in 2019 by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Council, and includes a roadmap of short-, medium- and long-term actions to embed ethical best practice. At the heart of the report is the need to retain public confidence in the ethical behaviour of engineers.

While reported public trust in engineers remains high, the ever growing expectations of society coupled with new advances in technology mean that engineers must continually evaluate how ethical behaviours need to improve and evolve. Inevitably, there are tensions between profitability, sustainability and safety that engineers seek to be aware of and need to balance.

The engineering profession has been working for many years on embedding ethical culture and practice into the profession, including operating sustainably, inclusively and with respect for diverse views. Together, such behaviours make a profession aspirational and trustworthy but require a culture of continuous improvement.

Engineering Ethics marks the next step in this work, summarising progress so far and recommending actions that reinforce benefit to society while seeking to embed an ethical culture of continuous improvement. The report encourages all engineering organisations and employers to consider what they should be doing to embed ethical thinking more strongly in all that we do.

Professor David Bogle FIChemE FREng, Chair of the Engineering Ethics Reference Group, said: “Engineers act in the service of society, making decisions that affect everyone, from small-scale technical choices to major strategic decisions that can affect the lives of millions and even the future of our planet. We want to make sure that ethical practice is at the heart of all these decisions.

“Our vision is that UK engineering ethics principles and practice are regarded nationally and internationally as world class, with ethics embedded in engineering culture such that society can maintain confidence and trust in the profession.

“Realising this goal will require collaborative action and shared responsibility. But this is essential if we are to retain public trust and attract young people into the profession who truly reflect the diversity of society and who will help achieve a sustainable society and inclusive economy that works for everyone.”

Extract from RAEng - read more here

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