The RSS Professional Affairs Committee (PAC) has carried out a revision of the Society's Code of Conduct, after recently taking the view that a review was overdue. This review included consideration of the codes of other statistical professional bodies and of the codes of more than twenty professional associations that are Licensed Bodies of the Science Council.
John Pullinger, President of the RSS, has written the following to RSS fellows regarding the review:
"The Royal Statistical Society chose the wheatsheaf as its symbol to show that our role is to gather the harvest of data and package it in a way that can be used productively to feed better decisions. Now our logo is rather less lyrical in form but the meaning is still clear – data, evidence, decisions. Our purpose is all about adding value to data to make a positive impact. This role puts us at the heart of decision-making in all walks of life and requires us to set and display high standards in our work.
As professional statisticians we are guided by a Code of Conduct. This is mandatory for all CStats and GradStats and recommended to all other fellows of the Society.
It requires us to act in the public interest. This means operating without fear or favour. We cannot be required to produce results that go further than the data supports either through bias or imprecision. That characteristic is what makes us valuable to employers – if it has been produced by a professional statistician it can be trusted. It is also our protection against those who would seek to get us to produce answers to their liking unsupported by the numbers.
The Code requires us to act in the interests of our employers. This is about being useful. We are paid to do a job. To add value to the organisation paying the cheques. In the modern data economy the value that the professional statistician can offer is immense and it is our duty to find that value. We must get under the skin of the places in which we work to see how what we have to offer can make a difference.
The Code requires us to support the profession. As part of a community, we are strengthened by our support for each other. We can draw on both the intellectual strength of colleagues who have an expertise complementary to our own and the emotional strength of our peers who face the same challenges in living up to a challenging vocation.
The Code also requires us to be competent. We must invest in our skills. We must also know our limits and not go beyond what we know.
Our Professional Affairs Committee, led by Steve Pyke and Trevor Lewis has been reviewing the Code of Conduct to ensure it provides the best possible guide for the current time. Much of it is timeless but its value lies in how we use it in our professional lives today. After a period of consultation, the new Code was issued on 1 June."