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What do you think of Canon 8?

  • 1.  What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-04-2018 08:42 PM
    "Canon 8: Engineers shall, in all matters related to their profession, treat all persons fairly and encourage equitable participation without regard to gender or gender identity, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, or family, marital, or economic status.
    1. Engineers shall conduct themselves in a manner in which all persons are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness.
    2. Engineers shall not engage in discrimination or harassment in connection with their professional activities.
    3. Engineers shall consider the diversity of the community, and shall endeavor in good faith to include diverse perspectives, in the planning and performance of their professional services."

    Do you think it was necessary for ASCE to add this Canon? Do you think it will help the industry grow (if so, how)?

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    Peyton Gibson EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Engineer in Training
    Littleton CO
    (910)-551-7054
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  • 2.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-05-2018 10:34 AM
    Unfortunately, it is necessary.  There is no law or code that prohibits being a jerk and it is practically impossible to prove disrespect without documentation or a track record.  This canon prohibits talking down to technicians, draftsmen, construction workers, and any other support personal.  Disrespect towards women is common in construction... it should not be tolerated, but those who hold their own are typically welcomed quickly.  I have witnessed speech that violates this canon and that is impossible to report... but should that speech be turned to action, this canon gives teeth to ASCE and states that uphold it.

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    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 3.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-05-2018 11:22 AM
    Hi Chad.... I think that verbal abuse is definitely reportable under this Canon....

    1. Engineers shall conduct themselves in a manner in which all persons are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness.
    2. Engineers shall not engage in discrimination or harassment in connection with their professional activities.
    Even if comments aren't made directly to a person and said behind their back or during "water cooler talk," it is still demeaning and considered harassment. I think the best way to handle it is to directly say something to the harasser-- if that doesn't stop the verbal abuse, contacting HR or ASCE's code of ethics (if they are an engineer) is the next best step.

    ------------------------------
    Peyton Gibson EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Engineer in Training
    Littleton CO
    (910)551-7054
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-05-2018 01:54 PM
    Often times, verbal abuse is subversive... those in power did not get there without knowing how to CTA.  What was said is not always able to be documented.  The attitude or tone cannot be written in the minutes.  If you were to report a PE to ASCE or the state board, you would need to produce something with more evidence than, "he was rude to me or talked down to the draftsmen at the meeting."  The expectation that ASCE or the state board wants to hear about feelings being hurt is a bit off base.  Think if you are the engineer being accused of saying something wrong... were you simply being firm and exercising your authority?  Or were you being disrespectful and not aware of it as humans are prone to be?  Escalate the issue as needed... professional courtesy call to the offender, report to manager, GC, customer, or owner.  Try to resolve it there first.

    Does the offense rise to the level or reporting the engineer (whose work and design is OK otherwise) to ASCE or the state?  The legal fallout can be huge and threat to the completing the job (let's say it is a massive job) can be jeopardized.  I do not condone or tolerate verbal abuse on the jobsite whatsoever.  I will confront it as I encounter it so that it does not escalate to the point of an ethics complaint.  Sometimes life is not fair and we have to work with those we don't like.  And sometimes the best answer is not to work with that person again in the future.  The cost of litigation is too high for justice.  I certainly did not stay quiet when I witnessed such unprofessional conduct, I also had to be careful about getting into it where one of us might say something much worse.  Pick your battles, work to resolve issues immediately, so a track record cannot develop  We definitely agree that an ethics report is a last resort!


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    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 5.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-06-2018 10:08 AM
    Interesting topic.  Any good business owner would do the things contained in Canon 8 regularly, without the need for them to be listed in a code of ethics, otherwise they would risk losing talented employees or reliable customers, etc.  It does seem like a necessary canon, however, if the goal is to provide a written means of making our profession more ethical in general.  It doesn't hurt to have it in our code of ethics, in my opinion.

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    Michael W. Hall, PE, M.ASCE
    Sr. Engineer
    Dolese Bros. Co.
    Oklahoma City, OK
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  • 6.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-05-2018 10:35 AM
    ​Hi Peyton,

    Great topic!

    I do believe that Canon 8 was required for the Society. While these may be seen as "common sense" topics to many individuals, it allows the Society to take a stance and tell everyone that; 1) as a Society we're looking to improve the profession and technology, and 2) that discrimination will not be tolerated.

    If the Society wants to continue to grow and help improve the civil engineering profession, diversity and inclusion must be at the forefront of the Society. Advancement of the profession and technology can only come from diverse teams with many backgrounds. Frans Johansson nailed this topic at the 2016 Convention in Portland, Oregon.

    While I have not heard of discrimination in the Society, of which I hope that means there is none, the Society needs to take a stance against discrimination. More and more companies are standing up against discrimination in the workplace. While the Society is a workplace for some and a volunteer organization for others, the Society needs to say that both employees and volunteers will be treated fairly and encourage equitable participation without regard to gender or gender identity, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, or family, marital, or economic status.

    Through diversity we grow, through discrimination we fall.

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    Kenneth R. Mika, P.E., M.ASCE

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  • 7.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-05-2018 11:49 AM
    "Advancement of the profession and technology can only come from diverse teams with many backgrounds. Frans Johansson nailed this topic at the 2016 Convention in Portland, Oregon."

    Exactly my thinking on this issue.... More inclusion = more people encouraged to join the workforce = more innovative ideas flowing.

    "While I have not heard of discrimination in the Society, of which I hope that means there is none, the Society needs to take a stance against discrimination."

    Unfortunately, they addressed the 'why' question at the 2018 Convention in Denver-- there had been a lot of reported issues at ASCE conferences and conventions, but nothing could be done about them since there was no 'rule' against harassment. 


    ------------------------------
    Peyton Gibson EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Engineer in Training
    Littleton CO
    (910)551-7054
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-05-2018 10:37 AM
    Peyton - thank you for asking the question.  I teach our "Professional Issues" course; one major element of the course is the ASCE Code of Ethics - both the content and its application.  When there is a substantive change to the Code - such as adding a new Canon - it is good to examine both the content and the context of the change.  We would like to believe that the statements contained in Canon 8 would be (somewhat) universally understood and agreed upon - even without having to be codified.  Of course, this same sentiment could be expressed for the overall Code itself.  Interestingly, ASCE existed for almost 70 years prior to the first Code being published.  If we are truly "professionals" (pick your favorite definition here), then why do we need to codify such statements? Unfortunately, the answer lies with actual behaviors and attitudes as opposed to some 'ideal' of professional conduct.

    While I think that, overall, ASCE (and the engineering profession by extension) has made significant strides regarding diversity and inclusion, both students and practitioners from underrepresented groups continue to face long-held stereotypes in the workplace.  I base this statement on numerous conversations with folks in these demographics.  There are plenty of examples, e.g. two students receiving internships with the same company - the male student being assigned "real engineering" work, while the female student relegated to "clerical" work in the office.

    The inclusion of Canon 8, I think, is a very positive step in our profession.  It brings to the forefront the necessity for our profession to practice -- and more importantly, to value -- diversity and inclusion. By making this mindset an ethical imperative, we move from "it is a good idea" to "it is one of the fundamental values of our profession".  I have to believe that this will, in fact, allow our profession to grow both in sheer numbers and in its diversity.  Statements such as those canonized in Section 8 clearly communicate to the full population of engineers, engineering students, and 'future' engineering students that ASCE and the civil engineering profession values each person individually - and will strive to ensure that each individual will share in the opportunities offered by the profession.

    Thanks again for starting this thread.

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    Kevin Hall Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Professor
    Univ Of Arkansas
    Fayetteville AR
    (479) 575-8695
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  • 9.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-05-2018 11:48 AM
    Many of the Canons seem like common sense to me, including this one. But, I do think it is necessary. Having it opens the door to the more broad conversation about the importance and impact of diversity in our profession, and what that actually means in day-to-day interactions.

    There are numerous studies the show that the diversity of teams and management - including but not limited to gender, race, and age - results in more profits. It's not just a "nice to have" or "the right thing to do." There is a strong business case for it. For those interested, I've rounded up two links on the topic:

    Compilation of diversity and inclusion data "business case": https://medium.com/awaken-blog/compilation-of-diversity-inclusion-business-case-research-data-62a471fc4a42

    <g class="gr_ gr_13125 gr-alert gr_gramm gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim Grammar only-ins doubleReplace replaceWithoutSep" id="13125" data-gr-id="13125">More</g> in-depth article including graphics (this is the source of the graphic at the bottom of my post) Delivering through diversity

    However, diverse teams are less "comfortable" than homogeneous teams. It takes more effort to recruit and get to know and trust others that are outside of your own circle. It takes an incredible amount of both self-awareness and empathy to recognize that that "truths" of your earlier years that strongly shaped how you perceive the world today can be very different from someone else's, and some of the things you might take for granted are not a given for others. For a very simple example, if you've never had anyone act surprised when you told them you are an engineer, you might never know that simply to be accepted without question as belonging in a career is a privilege.

    Business Case for Diversity

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    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Founder
    Engineers Rising LLC
    www.engineersrising.com
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  • 10.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-05-2018 10:14 PM
    It's more effective in the construction industry. Sometimes the work environment reflects the ways engineers conduct themselves. I would simply suggest one more item. For example, an engineer shall be responsive, communicate and stay in close contact with the community related tasks, in the area of their knowledge. I have seen engineers that avoid talking in the public. Some might think, they are highly professional and even somewhat different. The fact is that engineering is a social major that aims to help society.

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    Sayed Maqsood S.M.ASCE
    Oakland CA
    (510)395-4361
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  • 11.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-08-2018 02:43 PM
    ​Adding Canon 8 to the ASCE code is OK with me. My only concern is with the unqualified term "discrimination." Discrimination has multiple meanings, some of which would violate this canon. For example, one meaning of "discrimination" is "the quality or power of finely distinguishing" (Merriam Webster). Another meaning is "the act of making or perceiving a difference" (Merriam Webster). Both meanings are commonly exercised by virtually everyone without being nefarious in such exercise. Examples include choice of a spouse, choice of a new-hire, choice of an automobile, choice of a school/college, choice of a religion/or no religion, etc. In each of these instances, the individual finely distinguishes among choices through perceived differences. That is, they are exercising legal discrimination; they are exercising culturally acceptable personal or corporate freedom. Some discrimination are even constitutionally protected in America, such as freedom of thought, speech, and religion. Diverse discrimination are one of the inherent attributes of multiculturalism and diversity.

     

    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.



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    Warren Knoles M.ASCE
    SR CONSULTANT
    Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc
    Springfield IL
    (217) 787-8050
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  • 12.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-12-2018 09:22 AM
    Having experienced some toxic workplaces, I do not doubt the need for something like this. However, I do wonder whether the bulleted items are too vague to be enforceable.

    The previous comment about the word "discrimination" presents <g class="gr_ gr_7858 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del" id="7858" data-gr-id="7858">and</g> interesting question. While it would be verbose, enumerating to personal attributes over which one should not discriminate others in their professional activities would clarify the apparent intent.

    I have some concern over "shall conduct themselves in a manner in which all persons are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness". How does one define "dignity, respect, and fairness?" I do not believe it is reasonable to expect that your feelings will never get hurt in your professional life. You are not always going to get what you want from an employer. There will be disagreements over how to address a problem. Criticism will be given and received, internally and externally. Obviously, you want these conflicts to be handled as professionally and constructively as possible, but everyone is human. I don't think it would come to the point of managers being afraid to correct their staff, for example, but there could be some chilling effect, at least on the margins. That said, I once worked on a project where a project engineer was a little over-aggressive about compiling some shop drawing comments and the engineer who prepared the shop drawings threatened a defamation suit. Obviously, that would have been frivolous, but could that engineer now retaliate through an ethics complaint instead under this language? Clarifying that the intent is that no one is mistreated over their identity (and enumerating those personal attributes) might help.

    It does seem that civil engineering is less diverse than it should be and I get the sense that women, people of color, etc., face a certain amount of hostility. I am not sure that adding this to the Canon is going to do that much. A given company's HR department is going to do what the law requires and perhaps less if constrained by management and they can get away with it. (How is the part of Canon 7 about providing professional development opportunities working out?) The trouble is that ethics are aspirational and tell you what you should do when priorities conflict. Going on record about the profession's values with respect to diversity sets an aspirational marker. However, to make something enforceable, the rules have to be reasonably clear. Once "should" becomes "shall" the bar has to be set relatively low.



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    Richard J. Driscoll P.E., M.ASCE
    Lebanon NH
    [email protected]
    www.richardjdriscoll.com
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  • 13.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 11-13-2018 12:21 PM
    I really appreciated Richard's thought provoking post about Canon 8. All who posted on this seem to agree on the importance of the Canon. Even if is what Richard refers to as an "aspirational" ethic. Clearly, however, enforcing such an ethic will be problematic, particularly at this point in our country's history that political correctness is such a divisive issue. During my 50-year career I have experienced many times where I was criticized pretty bluntly and at the time I felt unfairly.  In retrospect these sessions actually promoted my growth in the profession.

    On on the other hand, I've had bosses who, while not actually disrespectful, have created an environment where employees felt unwilling to question authority. Is that a violation of Canon 8?  And like Richard states, how would this be enforced, even if some employees are in a protected class but everyone was treated equally?  Will Canon 8 create a working environment where managers become unwilling to criticize employees, which in my mind would be to the employees detriment?  All good questions that need further discussion.

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    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    President/Owner
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL
    (561)225-1214
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 01-16-2019 10:07 AM

    ASCE has an article written Canon 8 that is relevant to this discussion: Practicing the Principals of Equitable Participation

    It 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.   



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    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Founder
    Engineers Rising LLC
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  • 15.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 01-16-2019 12:10 PM
    The addition is necessary. I've seen companies focus on "Inclusion & Diversity." By having this Canon and possible events to follow up, people can embrace different dimensions of diversity to better high-performing business culture and the work environment. I think it is also a marketing strategy for companies to have a diverse group of employees.

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    Andrew Ng EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Gilbertsville PA
    (215)808-6888
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  • 16.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 05-18-2021 09:49 AM
    I am sure it is very necessary to include Canon 8, because if fairness, equity and its engineering results were a skyscraper, Canon 8 is in the concrete and its enforceability, the steel rods and beams, that is holding everything up.

    To be less abstract, the United States itself has plenty of room for progress in giving everyone the rights they deserve, like fully legalizing the LGBT+ community and resolving its policing methods on the people. And yet, all the cultural and societal progression would not have come to this if it did not start within the federal government; like granting equality to women; and outlawing slavery. In the South, after the Civil War, there was a lot of societal pushback to Black people gaining equal rights, but one reason it was such a stronghold was because Jim Crow laws were set up to legally keep people down. To that end, politics and documentation are just the starting point.

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    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Student
    Bexley OH
    [email protected]
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  • 17.  RE: What do you think of Canon 8?

    Posted 06-07-2021 03:51 PM


    • 8. Peyton asks two questions about Cannon 8:

    1 of 2: "Do you think it was necessary for ASCE to add this Canon?"

    Absolutely!

    2 of 2: "Do you think it will help the industry grow (if so, how)?"

    Of course!

    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?" 

    Suggestion:

    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)[1]"

     

    Stay Healthy!

    Cheers,

    Bill

    [1] file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/24994.pdf



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    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------