IRM rolls out new digital ethics guidelines

The Institute of Risk Management’s (IRM) Professional Standards Committee has released a new set of Digital Ethics Guidelines.

The guidelines have been developed by Mark Turner BSc (Technology), CFIRM, from diverse external sources and the wider risk management community. Turner is the founder and managing director of Emsity Ltd, a risk management software consultancy.

According to the IRM, the last few years have seen a rapid expansion of digital technology into all of our professional and personal lives. This expansion was further hastened in 2020 by the health crisis, and it will continue to have a growing impact on the work of risk managers and society at large.

Failing to consider the ethical implications of new technology has created challenges historically: the first Industrial Revolution brought violent demonstrations and the rise of the Luddite movement intent on destroying the new spinning machines, which they thought would push a skilled workforce into unemployment.

The IRM added that what is often called the fourth Industrial Revolution will bring similar challenges to many people. These modern technologies sit in our pockets and on our desks. The decisions they facilitate every minute can have profound consequences for the jobs and daily lives of billions of individuals around the world.

“As risk professionals, we have a duty to ensure that new technologies are developed and used in ways that will do the minimum amount of harm while striking a balance with the opportunities for our organisations and communities,” Turner said. “This balance can lead to an ethical dilemma.”

“Consideration of the digital world’s ethics requires us to ask pertinent questions of the people who are deploying the technology,” he added. “It does not require a deep understanding of the technology itself.”

“These digital ethics guidelines have been created for the risk professional audience without expecting an in-depth knowledge of modern technology.”

Iain Wright CFIRM and IRM chair added: “These guidelines, created by the Professional Standards Committee, comprise three principles. Each is clarified and illustrated with examples in basic language. It has been a welcome and timely piece of work which I hope you will find useful as we move further into the digitally-enabled world”.

The report can be viewed here.