Our strategy reflects our committment to supporting ethical practice in the engineering profession and includes our goals for an inclusive economy:
- Ensure that ethical best practice is fully embedded in UK engineering education, training and professional development;
- Embed integrity and ethics into our support for engineering innovation
Latest research and reports
Ethics in the engineering profession
Published: June 2023
In January 2022, GoodCorporation was tasked with undertaking a Review of Ethical Culture and Practices in UK engineering. The need for the review was one of several actions identified in a report by the Engineering Ethics Reference Group (EERG), whose remit is to provide leadership and advice to help develop an enhanced culture of ethical behaviour in UK engineering.
The overall objective was to develop a benchmark from which the UK engineering profession can periodically audit and report on ethical performance in UK engineering and identify areas for improvement in ethical culture and practice. The exercise would also allow benchmarking against other professions and identify relevant learnings from them.
GoodCorporation designed this review around a series of surveys covering the following populations:
1) the UK working population
2) practising engineers technicians in the UK,
3) UK engineering firms
4) UK professional bodies, including Professional Engineering Institutions.
The research questions we sought to answer included:
- How does the net ethical culture (NEC)7 of UK engineering compare to the UK workforce generally, and to that of other sectors?
- To what extent do the beliefs and behaviours of UK engineers and technicians align to the principles for ethical behaviour and decisionmaking outlined in the Statement of EngineeringPrinciples?
- How well are ethical policies, procedures and practices embedded within UK engineering?
- In what ways does ethical decision-making manifest in the activities of those who work in UK engineering?
Insights were obtained from both the quantitative surveys as well as interviews with firms and professional bodies, to provide deeper understanding of the culture, codes of conduct, ethics policies, procedures and behaviours within organisations, and to highlight challenges and good practice.
See page 12 of the report for an overview of the sample size by survey
Key Finding 1
Engineers and technicians report good ethical practice and ethical culture in engineering compared to the general UK workforce, but there are worrying signs of poor ethical practice in some parts of the profession.
Key Finding 2
There is evidence many engineers and technicians feel dissuaded from raising concerns in the workplace.
Key Finding 3
Engineers and technicians in larger firms have more support when it comes to ethics than those working in smaller firms.
Key Finding 4
Engineering firms rank the safety, health and wellbeing of workers, business integrity, and cybersecurity as the most relevant ethical risks for their organisations.
Key finding 5
Professional engineering institutions are beginning to explore ethical issues, but often in a piecemeal and unsystematic way.
Key finding 6
A lack of integration and coordination within UK engineering creates obstacles in communication and engagement on ethics.
Review Of Ethical Cultures And Practices In UK Engineering Response From The Engineering Profession
Published: June 2023
This paper is the response from the engineering profession to the audit of ethics in UK
engineering, undertaken by the independent ethics consultancy, GoodCorporation, on behalf of the Royal Academy of Engineering. The profession welcomes GoodCorporation’s report setting out the findings of its Review of ethical culture and practices in UK engineering.
An online webinar was held on Wednesday 14 June 2023 to discuss the report and how the profession planned to respond
Maintaining society's trust in the engineering profession
Published: February 2022
Building on the Statement of Ethical Principles, a joint Engineering Ethics Reference Group (EERG) was established in 2019 by the Engineering Council and the Royal Academy of Engineering, under the Chairmanship of Professor David Bogle CEng FREng.
This report sets out the context and issues discussed by the EERG informed by consultation within the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Engineering Council and the Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) and proposes a series of actions and appropriate regulation that will achieve a more ethical culture in the UK’s engineering profession.
This report proposes a series of actions for the engineering profession to take forward with the aim of promoting an ethical culture within the engineering profession. The actions have been grouped into five themes:
- Leadership and Accountability
- Education and Training
- Engagement and Communication
- Governance and Measurement
The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Council agreed to take forward these actions, establishing a Steering Board alongside a Co-ordination Group to do so.
How ethics is embedded in the Academy’s work
Statement of Ethical Principles
The Royal Academy of Engineering and Engineering Council jointly created a statement of ethical principles to guide engineering practice and behaviour, which was revised and updated in 2017. It sets out the four underpinning fundamental principles of honesty and integrity; respect for life, law, the environment, and public good, accuracy and vigour; and leadership and communication.
Engineering Ethics Reference Group
Building on the Statement of Ethical Principles, a joint Engineering Ethics Reference Group (EERG) was established in 2019 by the Engineering Council and the RAEng, under the Chairmanship of Professor David Bogle, CEng FREng. Operating at a strategic level, the group’s overarching objective is to provide advice and a steer to the profession about embedding a culture of ethical behaviour. The Group published its report in February 2022 (see above).
Engineering Ethics Co-ordination Group
To deliver the actions identified by the Engineering Ethics Reference Group which will change the culture around ethics, a co-ordination Group has been formed. With Secretariat provided by the Academy, and chaired by Libby Meyrick (Chief Executive of the Institution of Engineering Designers), the group is ensuring that the actions agreed are progressing, and having the desired impact on ethical engineering practice across the profession.
Engineering Ethics case studies
In 2011, the Academy published a set of case studies, developed from real engineers' experience, that shows the relevance of the ethical principles to engineering practice. It is designed for engineers to work through practical ethical examples and to explore how ethics relates to their own working lives. A full set of case studies, and a shorter summary document are available.
More case studies, specifically focused on teaching engineering ethics at undergraduate level, have been developed and published.
The Engineering Ethics Toolkit is a resource designed to help engineering educators integrate ethics content into teaching, produced in partnership with the Engineering Professors Council.
The case studies and more supporting activity such as workshops and lecturer guidance, are being trialled across the UK in 2022.
You can also find more of these case studies in our policy publications library under 'Engineering ethics and philosophy'.
The Academy’s work in engineering ethics began in 2003 when a working group on professional ethics was established. The Academy’s work on ethics was stimulated by the Lloyd’s Register lecture, Do engineers owe duties to the public? by John Uff CBE QC FREng.
The Academy held its first engineering ethics conference in October 2005, at which the original statement of ethical principles was launched.
The Academy has undertaken a range of collaborative activities on engineering ethics, bringing together the profession to agree a set of aspirational principles and working with engineering educators to explore ways of teaching engineering ethics.
The Academy’s work on engineering ethics covers ethics in engineering education, ethics in practice and the issues surrounding emerging engineered technologies. Through events, publications and teaching resources, the Academy has sought to enrich thinking about engineering ethics and provide materials and inspiration for engineers interested in the wider impact of their work.
Ethical engineering practice, is a key element of Safer Complex Systems. As part of the its Engineering X activity, in Spring 2019 the Academy launched a £5 million five-year mission, Safer Complex Systems.
This is a current (December 2021) Academy project, and has already resulted in a paper on The journey to an autonomous transport systems and various activity through the National Engineering Policy centre.