Evaluator Competencies Series: Ethics


1.3 Integrates the Canadian Evaluation Society’s stated ethics in professional practice and ensures that ethical oversight is maintained throughout the evaluation.

Like many evaluators, a lot of my knowledge of ethics comes from the research world. I recently completed the latest version of the TriCouncil’s online Course on Research Ethics, which was required by the organization I work for as the course has been updated since I originally took their ethics training a long, long time ago. A lot of the concepts from research ethics – informed consent of participants, do no harm, justice, etc. – are applicable to evaluation as well.

As for how I integrate ethics into my work and ensure that ethic oversight is maintained through the evaluation, a few things that I do include:

  • use the ARECCI Ethics Screening Tool to assess ethical issues when planning evaluations
  • create systems to protect the privacy of data that my team and I collect, such as only storing data on secure networks and using passwords to protect data
  • discussing ethical considerations, such as confidentiality, conducting rigorous evaluations, and reporting findings accurately and completely (just to name a few), with my team throughout the evaluation process
  • holding strong on my commitment to do my work ethically, even when it is challenging. I consider my integrity to be a very important part of being an evaluator. Without integrity, there would be no point to doing the work that I do.

One area of ethical considerations that I’m seeking to learn more about is equity in evaluation. Since I don’t work in an area where there is an obvious equity lens – such as there would be working with a non-profit that explicitly focuses on equity, for example – I find it challenging to see how my work links with equity. But inequities often stem from institutions and systems where power imbalances and institutionalized racism/sexism/ableism/and many other -isms are so embedded and are often difficult for someone with a lot of privilege (such as a straight, white, cis person such as myself) to see. So I figure that this is an area that I need to learn more about so that I can do better. Two great resources that I’ve heard about recently for learning more about equity and evaluation are Equitable Evaluation and We All Count.

The CES ethics statement is currently under review, as it is about 20 years old. I went to a session at the CES 2018 conference where they were consulting with evaluators to see if the statement needed some tweaks, or a complete overhaul. The group I was in felt it was the latter and I know there is a committee that is hard at work at revising that statement. I’m actually quite looking forward to seeing what they come up with – and I’m sure I’ll write a blog posting on it once it comes out – now that I’m on such a roll with writing here!

When I joined the Australasian Evaluation Society 1The year I went to their conference – it’s cheaper to join the society and pay the member conference registration fee than to just pay the non-member registration fee, so I joined., I had to attest to the fact that I would adhere to their ethical guidelines. I’m interested to see if CES will do the same with their new ethics statement when it’s released.


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1 The year I went to their conference – it’s cheaper to join the society and pay the member conference registration fee than to just pay the non-member registration fee, so I joined.
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