All of us want to deal with others who are above reproach (well, almost everyone; if you don’t qualify, you can stop reading right now). None of us wants to endanger our companies and our own professional reputations by bringing on board consultants with low ethical standards. How can you separate the wheat from the chaff?
Here’s one way: When checking on potential communications training consultants, ask to see a copy of their written ethical standards (as an example, you can see mine here). Ethical professionals won’t hesitate to point you to their web sites or offer you a one-sheet outlining their standards.
Then there are all the others. If they have not given thought to putting anything in writing, shame on them as consultants (and shame on you if you risk sharing sensitive information with them).
When you raise the subject of ethics and get a blank stare in return or a series of “um, er, but” statements, run the other way. I’m not claiming that all who lack a written policy are crooked. But if they haven’t given forethought to the matter, why would you want to chance your communications strategy to someone who doesn’t view ethics as a priority?