Pledge of Professional Civility
To help foster camaraderie among the nutrition and dietetics community and encourage constructive engagement among peers, in 2017 at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo®, the Academy's Food & Nutrition Magazine® debuted a voluntary Pledge of Professional Civility, complete with guiding principles and related resources. The Pledge of Professional Civility was featured in The Washington Post, Associations FORUM Magazine and Associations Now magazine and received the 2018 international Communicatas Award.
The Pledge of Professional Civility
- I pledge to demonstrate respect to my colleagues and all others.
- I pledge to support constructive dialogue and positive engagement.
- I pledge to discourage the public belittling of my colleagues, even when we do not agree.
- I pledge to model professional conduct in all my public communications and actions.
The following represents basic tenets that any professional — irrespective of expertise, area of practice or personal values — should adopt as principles of conduct in public forums, including social media.
- Demonstrating respect: The science and profession of nutrition and dietetics is an evolution of research, practices, culture and understanding. There are times when colleagues may not agree, and issues about which there may never be unanimity. Still, it is never beneficial for the profession when health practitioners publicly criticize their peers on forums or social media. As a vehicle for engagement and connection, social media should not be used for disrupting fellow colleagues’ engagement with their communities. Practitioners who feel compelled to question the content of a fellow colleague should encourage respectful expression of opinions, especially when we do not agree, and to recognize that it is an individual’s choice whether to engage in further conversation.
- Encouraging constructive dialogue: When professional discussions do unfold on digital forums, attention should focus on the issue or topic at hand and never belittle a participant or his or her character, intelligence, culture or opinion. Constructive dialogue and amicable discourse foster greater insight and understanding, even if one’s opinion or position on a matter ultimately remains unchanged. Whereas public antagonism and divisiveness dishonor the profession, and are a disservice to the more than 100,000 professionals who hold the RDN or NDTR credentials, positive engagement among peers demonstrates professionalism to both consumers and other health practitioners — and sets an example for future food and nutrition professionals.
- Discouraging public belittling of colleagues: Professional peers should not encourage the humiliation or harassment of other professionals by “liking,” retweeting or sharing content that is discourteous or disrespectful. Further, colleagues who witness the public harassment or humiliation of a fellow colleague, even one with whom they may not agree, might consider extending support to that colleague. Every individual has a right to participate in social media and should be able to do so without the threat or fear of being ostracized by one’s own colleagues and fellow members whose opinions or perspectives may be different.
- Modeling professionalism: RDNs and NDTRs are not only recognized experts in nutrition and health, but also colleagues in a distinguished profession that is more than 100,000 strong. Just as in work environments and professional settings, the words used, messages expressed and behaviors demonstrated on new media communications platforms not only reflect the competencies and conduct of the individual, but the values and credibility of the entire profession. Therefore, it is crucial that strong examples of personal conduct and professional behavior be set for fellow and future practitioners.
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