However, the intent of Canon 8's provision is to prevent another meaning of "discrimination," which is "prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment." "Prejudicial" means, "tending to injure or impair" or "leading to premature judgment or unwarranted opinion" (Merriam Webster). Dictionary elaborations on the term include "negative bias." With these clarifications, it becomes clear what the intent of Canon 8 is and why some forms of discrimination have been made illegal in America.
Yet, without any qualification, someone could claim discrimination in violation of Canon 8, when the alleged violation is only an exercise of legal, personal/corporate freedom. In other words, just as "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," unqualified "discrimination" can be "in the mind or feelings of the recipient." Thus, to avoid such potential claims of Canon 8 violation (regarding discrimination), it would seem to me that qualifying "discrimination" in Canon 8 would be prudent and beneficial. That is, it clarifies the intent of the provision. The narrowest clarifier would be, "Engineers shall not engage in illegal discrimination…" A less narrow qualifier, but perhaps fulfilling the intent of the Canon 8 authors, would be "Engineers shall not engage in prejudicial discrimination..." Those who may think adding such a qualifier is "unnecessary word-smithing" have most likely never been sued and lost (or settled) because of the ambiguity of terms in the document upon which the suit was based.
ASCE has an article written Canon 8 that is relevant to this discussion: Practicing the Principals of Equitable ParticipationIt touches on a number of what many would consider "gray" areas (or areas that could easily be rationalized to NOT be ethics violations), yet occur frequently in the profession. As some other responders have noted, I'm not sure how you would "enforce" ethics compliance in any of these situations, but I don't think that's the point of this canon. The article sums up the major focus of this canon nicely: "An engineer who would never consciously take an action to exclude or disadvantage other might nevertheless struggle to recognize how an unconscious preference for his/her own interests and experiences might be distancing for individuals with different needs and interests, or how behaviors that are engaged in for the sake of convenience or economy may have the unintended consequence of excluding others from equal participation in workplace or professional activities."
Based on my interpretation of this article, the point of the canon is to tell you ideals of behavior for which you should strive, not give you a list of specific things you should or shouldn't do. This includes being aware of our own unconscious bias through which every single one of us filters our individual behaviors or actions. And then, to consider how that bias may result in actions that, while not hurtful or exclusionary to you, <g class="gr_ gr_18 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del" id="18" data-gr-id="18">may be</g> to others, and take action to correct it. Just because it's legal and/or not able to be proved doesn't mean it's ethical.
Being a practical person, in my opinion it would be extremely helpful to see a couple of scenarios like those in the article laid out by ASCE, combined with a "here's an example of using ethical behavior if you witness these scenarios occurring." Why? Because in my experience some of the people most likely to demonstrate exclusionary behavior lack the emotional intelligence to be aware that this is the case. They truly don't know that they are being exclusionary. This isn't an excuse – as I tell my children, if you accidentally knock down another child on the playground resulting in a broken leg, your intentions do not make their leg hurt any less –but I think specific case studies/scenarios would help clarify.
1 of 2: "Do you think it was necessary for ASCE to add this Canon?"
2 of 2: "Do you think it will help the industry grow (if so, how)?"
After reading parts of the NAS Report below, how do you think we will grow?
Some challenging quotes from a few posts above:
".. those in power did not get there without knowing how to CTA. . ."
"…but nothing could be done about them since there was no 'rule' against harassment."
"…How does one define "dignity, respect, and fairness?"
What if those sincerely interested in the values noted in posts above could agree on, say, one unambiguous target to help shape the enforceability of whatever language Cannon 8 ends up becoming"
The target I propose will occur to each as they read the following:
NAS Report: Sexual Harassment of Women
"Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2018)"
------------------------------William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCEBuffalo, N.Y."It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880------------------------------
Do you think it was necessary for ASCE to add this Canon? Do you think it will help the industry grow (if so, how)?------------------------------Peyton Gibson EIT, A.M.ASCEEngineer in TrainingLittleton CO(910)-551-7054------------------------------