To qualify as a professional in the traditional disciplines, persons must graduate from an accredited program of study and then undergo a period of supervised training. The governments of most developed countries protect their citizens from unqualified practitioners by requiring professionals to be registered. Unfortunately, once qualified, some professionals can offer a substandard service by, inter alia, adopting unethical practices, to the detriment of their clients and their profession.
Professional associations are responsible for managing codes of ethics for their members. However, with the exception of lawyers, professionals in Barbados are not required to be accountable to professional associations, which can leave some of them more vulnerable to temptation. Today, we shall examine the dark side of professional services with the hope that it will dissuade the tempted from going astray.
Lawyers are trained, inter alia, to understand the law so that their clients can operate within the law. Similarly, accountants understand financial regulations so that their clients can manage their financial affairs responsibly. However, some can use their training to identify perceived deficiencies in tax laws and financial rules to justify unethical practises.
Building professionals should understand development regulations so that their client’s property can be, inter alia, structurally sound, low-maintenance, and non-threatening to the surrounding environment. However, some can use their training to identify perceived deficiencies in the regulations to justify substandard building practises. Doctors understand how the body works so that they can assist their clients to live healthily. However, some can use that knowledge to justify death by abortion and euthanasia. Marketing professionals are trained, inter alia, to enhance a product. However, some can use their training to promote sexual promiscuity through their advertisement designs.
Entertainment professionals and artists aim to elicit a reaction from their audiences. However, some can use their knowledge of artistic licence and freedom of expression to justify promoting pornography and vulgarity. Teachers are responsible for teaching the next generation the fundamentals of core subjects, to prepare them to be productive citizens. However, some can use their influence to commit statutory rape. Priests are trained to, inter alia, teach God’s standard of behaviour. However, some can use their authority to promote immoral behaviour.
The shortcomings of accepting substandard professional services become apparent, and are clearly understood and regretted after the service is examined. Professionals who offer such services are essentially deceiving themselves and their clients.
The recipients of substandard legal or financial professional services understand that the short-term financial gains from insider trading, tax evasion, incomplete financial reporting, and other unethical practises, which may be facilitated by loopholes in the law, are not worth the punitive fines, incarceration, nor embarrassment following an investigative audit.
Property owners understand that the cost savings from substandard materials and construction methods, do not compensate for a high maintenance property with deteriorating finishes, spalling concrete, cracked floors and walls, leaking plumbing, faulty wiring, and corroding metal. Property owners are further convinced if a hurricane or an earthquake examines the property, and the building and its contents are destroyed.
Women, who are destined to experience the lifelong guilt from allowing their babies to be destroyed in the safest of places, regret being influenced to have an abortion. Some married persons regret being influenced to sell their most priceless possession so cheaply, to keep someone whom they now do not care about, rather than presenting their invaluable gift to their lifelong partner on their wedding day.
What would tempt some professionals to risk their client’s well-being and their professional reputations, by departing from the high standards that they were taught? For most legal, financial, building, marketing, and medical professionals, the motive appears to be money. For teachers, the motive appears to be pleasure, and for entertainers, the motive appears to be fame.
Identifying the motive for a priest to promote homosexuality and other immoral behaviour, which his Employer, and our Creator, has clearly and consistently judged to be wrong, can be challenging. One must go beyond the normal physical and physiological temptations to the spiritual dimension. Jesus calls it evil, and He describes such persons as wolves in sheep’s clothing.