This course includes six lessons which you can access flexibly. You're free to go at your own pace. The content has been designed so that you can dip into individual lessons which typically take 30-45 minutes if you complete all the content and reflective activities.

The full course provides comprehensive learning on the theme which equates to the content covered on a one-day face-to-face course. We therefore believe this can play a significant part in your professional development journey.

You may choose to complete this course all by yourself. But, you'll get more out of the learning with some support. So, speak to your manager, coach or mentor to help you decide the best way forward. You could review the learning at the same time as a few colleagues, for instance. This will allow you to share your different thoughts and opinions.

Remember, you're also part of our wider community, with its vast range of experience. So, complete the reflective activities and get involved in the community discussions. Share your unique perspective. We are all there to support each other.

In essence, what matters is that you get as much out of the learning as you can. Take your time to reflect on and apply the key messages in your context. Watch the videos more than once, if possible, and make notes in the downloadable workbook as you go along. Before you know it, you'll put the learning into practice and making a real impact in your role.

Mapping to the standards

This course maps to the Chartered level of the Ethical practice standards. If you just want to gain an introduction to these standards at the Foundation level we recommend that you watch the video below.

This short, animated video provides an overview of the key elements of this core behaviour. It brings to life the five statements at Foundation level for Ethical practice in the CIPD Profession Map:

  • Consider how professional principles and values currently inform your approach and how they can be more consistently applied in the future
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Act compliantly with regard to relevant regulation and law
  • Handle personal data and information in a professional manner
  • Demonstrate honesty in dealings with others

Course introduction video

This provides an introduction to the course before you select to start one of the lessons.

Play Video
Ethical practice Foundation level video still


Meet Beulah. She's a project manager working in an in-house learning content development team for an expanding technology company.

She's leading a team that’s developing a digital interactive scenario to familiarise employees with the principles of agile working.

The team is taking an ambitious approach to tackle a difficult topic. The scenario simulates the situations learners will be facing on an everyday basis. The idea is that staff experiment with decision making and gain insights from the way the simulation develops.

However, they are facing some difficult issues of their own. They're well into development and have just discovered that the output produced by the tool they're using to develop the scenario is not accessible to those with visual or auditory impairments.

Ethical practice means considering how professional principles and values inform your approach.

The team is facing an ethical dilemma. Do they progress with development of a resource that’s not inclusive for all staff or do they go back several steps and make the costly decision to look for an alternative tool or some sort of technical fix?

Members of the team have different views. One influential manager says that HR data reveals that there can't be more than 10 people who might have accessibility issues, so the right decision for most employees would be to go ahead and meet what is an urgent need. Another says that Beulah can always blame any problems on the tool itself, which should have met accessibility standards. There are some members of the team who think that inclusion is crucial, and they need to address it.

Ethical practice means taking responsibility for your actions.

Beulah has to make a decision. And she cannot blame it on the tool – after all, they should have known what it was capable of.

Beulah explains that it’s a core value of the organisation to be inclusive. As a team, they cannot ignore this.

Also, even though it is a mandatory requirement to comply with web accessibility requirements, it is also an ethical imperative.

They're going to have to find a solution.

Some of the team groan but agree that this is the right thing.

Ethical practice means acting in compliance with relevant regulation and law.

Beulah really has no choice. Not only is it the right thing to make web resources accessible, in this case it’s a legal requirement.

The team has another issue to deal with. The software they are using has the capability to pass scores back to the department’s learning management system. Managers have requested to see the scores that colleagues obtain on the scenario as evidence of completion.

Beulah is concerned for two reasons. The first is that the scenario has been designed to encourage experimentation so learners can gain insights from the mistakes they make. Having scores visible to management would act as a disincentive to learners experimenting.

The second problem is that the scores achieved by learners represent a particularly sensitive form of personal data. Some learners won’t be comfortable with scores being shared.

Ethical practice means handling personal data and information in a professional manner.

The team has to make a decision. Do they remove the facility to record scores and take away this aspect of the management information relating to the training programme or do they follow data protection guidelines and make sure they have permission from every learner?

Beulah considers the ramification of the decision she has to make.

To complicate matters further, one of the team suggests that they just say nothing to learners, who need never know that the data is being stored.

Ethical practice means demonstrating honesty in dealings with others.

This one is obvious. No way can they deceive learners about the data they are holding.

Beulah makes a suggestion. They should remove the recording of scores altogether and record completion in another way. Not only would this improve the chances that learners actively experiment with the scenario, it would remove any complications in terms of data protection.

They all agree. They're doing the right thing.

When we make decisions based on good principles, and live by good values, we can improve the lives of others and the experiences they have at work.

Learning objectives

This course will help you to strengthen your ethical muscle, and build your confidence and practice in:

  • making responsible decisions by considering different ethical perspectives, and finding the best possible way forward for all stakeholders;

  • coaching and influencing managers and leaders to consider the implications of their decisions on stakeholders;

  • facing up to ethical dilemmas and challenging decisions and actions which are not ethical, explaining the organisational risks;

  • encouraging transparency in decision-making and communication where possible;

  • visibly and consistently role-modelling professional principles, values and personal integrity to build trust and contribute to an ethical culture.


You need to be a CIPD member and logged into the website to access each of the lessons.

Download icon

Download the course workbook

This interactive workbook will help you to make the most out of the course. Use the workbook to reflect on your learning and record your notes as you go along.