How an engineer stimulates him or herself in the context of professional practice can at times raise honest critical issues. As noted in BER Case 04-11, the way in which technical engineers advertise, signify themselves, or offer their services to the public has long been a subject of NSPE Board of Ethical Review views. The Board has offered opinions relating to classified advertising, the use of the Engineers’ Creed in political advertisements, pencils, and calendars, direct mail solicitation, and more. In fact, the BER Consolidated Reference Table recognizes more than 30 earlier cases dealing straight with advertising considerations.
Clearly, the subject has been being among the most examined ethical issues considered by the NSPE Board of Ethical Review. Additionally it is appropriate to see that views about the ethics of professional advertising have transformed over time. As a result of legal problems to professional culture codes of ethics during the 1960s and 1970s, the examination of ethical issues associated with advertising are actually tempered with strong cautions relating to commercial free talk and antitrust considerations.
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In particular, BER case quantities 79-6, 82-1, and 84-2 incorporate this perspective. This Board believes that modern questions about the ethics of advertising can be dealt with relative to two primary considerations discovered in the NSPE Code of Ethics. First, a fundamental, basic principle is that such advertising must be conducted in a manner that is truthful and not deceptive or deceptive.
Second, such activities must conform to condition registration rules and laws and regulations of practice. In both cases, the engineer’s obligation is not only to fulfill the letter but also the spirit of the Code, in keeping with upholding the dignity and integrity of the profession. Other observations also have a primary bearing on the ethics of advertising in accordance with the use of business cards.
With respect to rules of the practice of engineering, this Board identifies that state laws and regulations restrict anatomist practice to the people persons who are duly licensed in a particular state. Further, some areas have regulations that prohibit technicians or engineering firms from seeking or carrying out work in a particular state unless the engineer or engineering firm is duly licensed or registered for the reason that state.
Thus, relative to business credit cards, the ethics-or, more properly, the legality-of advertising may seem, using contexts, to show on establishing what constitutes an offer to do business or perform work. This Board openly acknowledges and celebrates the fact that engineers are people engaged in the business of engineering, and, thus, the business card has multiple purposes.
From a personal perspective, business credit cards serve the function of what were previously known as phone cards, this purpose being to provide basic recognition and contact information. From a functional perspective, the business card is utilized to promote the business and facilitate further business contact. Taken together, it’s the view of this Board that business cards today represent customary and accepted means where engineers introduce themselves in both business and social contexts.
This Board does not take the positioning that handing out a business card, in whatever setting, is tantamount to offering to do work. In BER Case 04-11, the Board reviewed a series of ethics scenarios relating to the content and distribution of business credit cards. Among the scenarios involved Engineer A who was licensed in States B, C, and D. Engineer A participated in a business meeting in State E and handed out a business card indicating that he was a P.E. The business cards detailed Engineer A’s name, phone, and fax numbers, and e-mail address but did not list a mailing address, nor achieved it identifies the state governments where Engineer A was certified.