By Joke Ruwen-Stuursma

It is important that we all can rely on members of ESOMAR being trustworthy and professional. But if ESOMAR doesn’t audit compliance with its new 2017 ICC/ESOMAR International Code, how can you be sure all members adhere to the ethical and professional standards the Code prescribes? First and foremost, our sector relies on our combined efforts to implement ethical and professional standards. To help us achieve that, the Code has now brought in a new article to get to a swift resolution for anyone sending in a complaint against an ESOMAR member.

This new article will help researchers, research buyers and respondents alike to trust that if an issue arises with an ESOMAR member it will be resolved swiftly. ESOMAR always carefully considers complaints about its members, and as part of its disciplinary investigation will always ask both parties for their account of the situation. Concerns about non-response in such an investigation led to the introduction of a new article that failure to co-operate with a disciplinary investigation will be a violation of the Code.

In some cases in the past it has proven difficult to get a response in an investigation. Last year, in one of our cases lodged by a company in the APAC region against an ESOMAR member in Europe, the European member refused to respond to the disciplinary investigation. And in 2010 an ESOMAR member refused to communicate by telephone about the complaint lodged against her.

The Disciplinary Committee agreed that it is important that researchers can rely on members of ESOMAR as being trustworthy and professional, and therefore an ESOMAR member should make him or herself available for a conversation, if substantial concerns arise about a study. Previously, non-response could not be considered a violation of the Code, but it could be a reason to consider a stronger sanction in case a violation of the Code was found. Non-response in a disciplinary investigation was never acceptable, but from now on it will be a violation of article 11c:

 “Article 11c – Failure by an ESOMAR member to co-operate with a disciplinary investigation by ESOMAR into a possible breach of this Code, will be considered a breach of this Code.”

Self-regulation will always rely on ESOMAR members implementing the ethical and professional standards in the Code. An effective system of self-regulation is good and important for the data, research, and insights industry as a whole. But for ESOMAR members following our Code and guidelines will further your professional image towards your clients and respondents.

To get all the latest information on the new ICC/ESOMAR International Code and how it can drive business, you can register for our free webinar here.


Joke Ruwen-Stuursma is Professional Standards Executive at ESOMAR