For some time now, this question has
been on the minds of many people in regard to the coaching profession.
“In our relationships with our
clients, we become the keepers and protectors of their hopes and
dreams,” says Michael Sanders, the newly
appointed Chairperson of the International Association of Coaching
(IAC) Professional Ethics Review Committee. “This is an awesome
privilege and responsibility and, as such, it is imperative that
we provide clients with the safety and security they need to grow.”
However, occasionally a serious problem
arises in the coach-client relationship. To whom can a client turn?
The answer is IAC’s recently
launched Professional Ethics Review Committee (PERC). In direct
response to IAC’s mission of “furthering the interests
of coaching clients worldwide”, the mandate of PERC is to
perpetuate IAC’s high and specific ethical standards throughout
the coaching profession.
More specifically, it is PERC’s
objective to be responsive to the interests of clients and coaches
by providing a forum for the review of questions and issues as well
as complaints of alleged unethical conduct by an IAC member.
PERC serves as a model of the highest
professional coaching standards and reflects the values of IAC and
the coaching profession as a whole. PERC also strives to educate
coaches and their clients about these standards and support them
in upholding the highest level of integrity.
Debbie Lawrence, newly
appointed Director of PERC, is excited about the vital role this
committee will play as they it works to address questions of ethics
and “best practices” by coaches.
“Our goal is for our members
to view this division of IAC as a value-added service,” says
Debbie. “We want coaches to use PERC as a secure place to
turn to for guidance on relevant issues and ethical dilemmas arising
within their respective coaching practices.”
The committee consists of a chairperson,
vice-chairperson, and six members, one of whom is a not a coach.
“This will allow for representation from both the coaching
and non-coaching perspective,” says Debbie, “This committee
structure is integral to the need to assure fairness in our decision
Coaches, clients and the general public
can access PERC through the IAC website or by going to www.coachingcomplaints.org
which offers the opportunity to ask questions, submit issues or
lodge complaints and be assured of a fair, prompt follow-up service.
PERC serves as the mediator of issues
as well as the reviewer of complaints. Committee members will clarify
any misunderstandings or misconceptions that may cause issues between
coaches and clients. In the case of ethical violations, PERC also
serves as the disciplinary body with the authority to revoke the
Certified Coach designation of a coach against whom a grievous complaint
has been unresolved.
“While I’d like to believe that we would never have
anything to do, because there wouldn’t be any issues or complaints,”
says Debbie, “IAC is realistic about the need for such an
initiative. The goal of the committee is to be open, fair, and responsive.
We also want to encourage IAC members to use PERC as a marketing
tool to which they can direct their clients for reassurance and
In time, PERC also plans to draw on
its experiences to develop case studies based on actual situations.
These will be designed as valuable teaching tools in coach training
environments and among coach study and support groups worldwide.
For more details or to just “Ask PERC”, visit us at
PERC is waiting to hear from you!
The highlights of Professional Ethics
Review Committee (PERC) procedures are provided here to provide
readers with a general understanding of how the process works. However,
complete instructions for making inquiries or filing a complaint
through PERC are available at www.coachingcomplaints.org.
- IAC accepts complaints about IAC
member coaches only.
- No anonymous complaints are accepted.
A complaint requires the name and address of the person filing
the complaint as well as a detailed description of the incident,
including the date of it occurred.
- All complaints are confidential
and are available only to the director and the committee.
- Complaints must be made within
a year of the alleged misconduct. However, there will be no time
limits on complaints of sexual misconduct.
- When a complaint is received, the
Director of IAC reviews it and within 15 days responds to the
complainant, stating whether or not the complaint will be pursued.
- If it is to be pursued, the complaint
is forwarded to the members of the committee who are assigned
to the investigation.
- A member of the committee, designated
by the director, then mediates a conversation between the complainant
and the respondent.
- If the committee determines that
there has been a breach of ethics, it will take one of four actions:
- issue a reprimand,
- require that the respondent
engage the services of a mentor coach,
- require removal from membership
- require that the coach retake
the certification exam.
- The coach then has 15 days to appeal
the committee’s decision.
- If the committee cannot arrive
at a resolution, it will be referred to the IAC Board of Governors.