a "baby-boomer" I always assumed that my generation would learn
from the mistakes of older generations. Yet, based on the recent
questionable ethics of a small group of business people from Wall
Street to Main Street in my age bracket, it appears that, in some
cases, if anything was taught about ethics, little was learned.
I think that by far most business people try to act in a fair and
ethical manner. It is the minority that taints the majority.
to the feeling that business ethics are eroding, there has been
a lot of discussion on ethics within AAPG. Recent articles in the
EXPLORER and the DPA Correlator
have highlighted ethics discussions. John Gibson, president and
CEO of Haliburton, has provided very interesting talks
on ethics as a Special AAPG Distinguished Lecturer (November
reviewed many of the comments regarding ethics and past concerns
by AAPG members. As some changes have been made over the past few
years, I thought I should bring you up to date on some of the actions
that have been done in regard to ethics at AAPG:
AAPG has established a responsible,
qualified, non-political committee to investigate charges of ethical
misconduct by AAPG members and prosecute AAPG members who appear
to have violated our Code of Ethics. The Ethics Committee was
established pursuant to an AAPG bylaw change on April 16, 2000.
It is an independent review board composed of a few of AAPG's
respected DPA members: Currently that group is Bob Sellars (chairman),
Jim Gibbs, Terry Hollrah, Jim Drahovzal and Bob Lindblom.
Complaints are made officially to the
AAPG executive director. The member is asked to file the complaint
in writing. E-mail is acceptable. Once the formal complaint is
made, it is sent immediately to the chairman of the Ethics Committee,
who then contacts the member and verifies the content of the complaint.
The complaint is brought before the Ethics Committee to investigate
the charges to decide if they have merit.
If a case has merit,
the Ethics Committee prosecutes the case before a select panel
made up of five members from the Advisory Committee. If the member
is found to have committed a violation of the AAPG Code
of Ethics, there are a range of penalties that can be applied
AAPG now has coverage for AAPG's officers and
members who are acting on behalf of AAPG. The key words are "acting
on behalf." Members who are an officer or a member of a committee
on behalf of AAPG are covered by AAPG's insurance. AAPG does not
provide liability insurance for members who file complaints against
other AAPG members for ethics violations outside of AAPG business.
During the last four years I have received about a dozen complaints. In
many cases the charges are of a "he said, she said" nature, and
in many cases the member making the charge does not follow through
on a formal written charge. Often this is because the member simply
wanted to talk to someone about a problem.
one-third of the inquiries have been made by non-members who, of
course, cannot file ethics charges against an AAPG member. Another
one-third of the inquiries are complaints by an AAPG member against
a third party, usually a company, e.g. the member did not receive
a promised override. AAPG has no jurisdiction over a company or
other non-members; only AAPG members are subject to the AAPG grievance
AAPG receive so few ethics complaints? Is it because there are not
that many problems in our profession, or is it because members are
reluctant to come forward?
is probably a little of both. Over the last four years I have kept
notes on member's responses on ethics. My experience is that reluctance
to file an ethics charge is related to one or more of the following
this case, the members did not want to go through a lengthy procedural
hassle to make an ethics charge. Although AAPG's complaint procedure
is rigorous, it is not nearly as painful as a civil suit.
key part of the prosecc is the investigative phase, where the
Ethics Committee determines the validity of the charge.
always are concerned about a counter-complaint or suit. As mentioned
previously, we have insurance for AAPG leaders acting on behalf
of AAPG. For member-against-member complaints (not involving AAPG
business), the reality is that you cannot insure one member against
another member because both would be insured by the same company
if a counterclaim was filed in a lawsuit involving an ethics charge.
As a result of this type of suit, the insurance company essentially
would be suing itself!
Company and peer pressure.
members I interviewed felt that their companies would not approve
of time spent on such actions. Some members feel that they might
be ostracized if they filed an ethics complaint against a fellow
leadership has made sure AAPG has the best coverage for members
most at risk. On a routine basis I ask both insurance and legal
counsel to re-examine our coverage and to check and see if there
is additional coverage for members, or if the legal "ground-rules"
is that we now have the "tools and the talent" to process legitimate
ethics complaints; however, that does not replace good education
on ethics, and the development of a culture of expected ethical
behavior by AAPG members.