Professionalism In and Out of the Office Image

Professionalism In and Out of the Office


For some, it isn’t hard to separate their professional life from their personal one. For some, when the clock strikes five and it’s time to head home, their responsibilities as a professional end, and they believe nothing they do ‘at home’ has any bearing on their professional life. This could not be further from the truth.

All individuals authorized by the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) as real estate and mortgage brokerage licensees, must not engage in conduct that undermines public confidence in the industry, harms the integrity of the industry, or brings the industry into disrepute. Individuals licensed in other professions have similar rules and standards.

A recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision illustrates this point. A member of the Alberta Institute of Chartered Accountants breached the Institute’s rules of professional conduct. The discipline resulted from disagreements between the accountant and the property manager, builder and condo board of the unit in which she lived. During the disagreements, she sent emails to those she was disagreeing with and indicated she is an accountant.

A complaint was filed against the accountant and the Discipline Tribunal reviewed it to determine if the accountant was in breach of the Institute’s rules of professional conduct. Those rules state that a registrant shall act in a manner that will maintain the good reputation of the profession and its ability to serve the public interest.

The accountant argued that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction because the conduct was an issue involving her private and personal life and not her professional life. The Discipline Tribunal disagreed and reprimanded her for unprofessional conduct. The order included a fine of $10,000 and full costs of the investigation and hearing on an indemnity basis, which totalled over $100,000. What is noteworthy here is that the discipline issued was as a result of events that occurred in her personal life and not her professional life, but in which she referred to herself as an accountant.

Remember that as a professional, there are always eyes on you – in and out of the workplace. This is especially true in an industry like real estate where an individual’s public image is often inextricably tied to his or her success. Nobody is perfect and people do make mistakes, both personally and professionally. That being said, all real estate and mortgage brokerage licensees are representatives of the real estate industry’s image as a whole. A licensee’s conduct in his or her personal life may negatively colour that individual’s professional reputation and that of the industry as a whole.

Do you agree with professionals being reprimanded by their governing body for activities in their non-work life?