Code of Ethics and Complaints process
Any professional membership organisation does not just support members, but also sets the expectations for those using the services of, or interacting with, their members. The PSA’s Code of Ethics sets out those expectations for members of the speaking profession.

Throughout this code context is important, and will always be considered in any complaint. Different situations carry different expectations both of speakers, their clients and audiences. For example, a “stand up” comedy event is a different context from a training course, both of which may involve members of the PSA acting in their professional capacity.

The complaints process details how the association will deal with any complaint raised with it.

Code of Ethics of Professional Conduct:
As a profession, members of the association agree to act professionally when representing the PSA, working as a speaker, or working in a speaking business, and to operate in line with this code of ethics.

We are one profession, the speaking profession. We cover, and respect, many topics and opinions, many ideas, experiences and backgrounds. We will always value each other’s contributions and work professionally, collectively and individually with everyone our speaking activity impacts.

  1. Integrity

Our reputation as a profession that clients, audiences and members of the public can trust is our most valuable asset, and it is up to every Associate, Member and Fellow (“Members”) of the Professional Speaking Association to make sure that we continually earn that trust. All professional speakers should strive to ensure that every communication improves the level of trust in which the profession is held.

In reaching a decision Members of the PSA are expected to ask themselves three questions when representing the profession:

  1. Am I aligned to the Professional Requirements of the Professional Speaking Association?
  2. Is my decision good for the profession?
  3. Would I feel happy if everyone knew the full details of my actions?
  1. Professional Requirements

All Members of the PSA are expected to:

  • Ensure they are covered by appropriate public liability and professional indemnity insurance;
  • Comply with all relevant laws, regulations, and tax obligations in connection with operating their speaking business;
  • Hold all necessary licences and permissions to use images, music, video, and other content used in their presentations;
  • Ensure that terms and remuneration have been mutually agreed and a contract is in place before any work is undertaken.
  • Act in accordance with this code at all times; 
  • Alert the PSA of any situation, which they feel will affect the reputation of the PSA, which they cannot resolve.


  1. Professional Consideration

As a profession, and as individual professionals operating in the profession, we all depend on each other from time to time to uphold these values and to be respectful of the different business models and approaches that will happen in a diverse market. Your decisions will affect clients, peers and the association, and you should take those consequences into account when making decisions.

  1. Be Respectful

Professional speakers are often paid to be controversial and promote thought and motivate change. Members of the profession will not always agree. Disagreement is, however, no excuse for disrespectful behaviour. We will all experience frustration from time to time, but we should not allow that frustration to become personally abusive nor to bring the profession into disrepute in other ways.

  1. Professional Conduct

Always conduct yourself professionally, taking due account of legality, common standards of decency and context. Be polite and do not intentionally insult, belittle or offend others (including on social media and other online interactions). This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Making threats of, or using, any form of physical violence;
  • Persistent or unwelcome encroachment of personal space;
  • Unwelcome sexual attention in any form;
  • Emotional abuse;
  • Making or using inappropriate discriminatory jokes and language;
  • Personal insults, especially those using racist or sexist terms;
  • Blackmail, defamation, or seeking to harm the reputation or business of others.
  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behaviour.

If you are subjected to any of these behaviours, or observe behaviour that is causing discomfort to others, which cannot be safely addressed at the time, then you should report the matter as soon as you can to the Professional Speaking Association, and, if appropriate, the relevant authorities.

  1. Bullying and Harassment

The PSA is committed to providing an environment that is comfortable and free from all forms of bullying and harassment.

If we have grounds to believe that a member may have been bullying or harassing another member, whether or not there has been a formal complaint, we will instigate an investigation into the alleged bullying or harassment.

Anyone who believes that another member’s conduct amounts to bullying or harassment, or if they believe that they have been bullied or harassed by a third party, has the absolute right to complain.

You are encouraged to report any incidents of bullying or harassment that you may experience or witness so that we can investigate and resolve the matter. We will take all such complaints seriously and if you make a genuine complaint of bullying or harassment, you will be protected and will not be penalised or victimised in any way.

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power which is meant to undermine, humiliate or injure the person on the receiving end.

Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person, even if this is not directed at them or this effect was not intended by the person responsible for the conduct. Conduct may be harassment whether or not the person behaving in that way intended to offend. Something intended as a “joke” may offend another person. Everyone has the right to decide what behaviour is acceptable to him or her and to have his or her feelings respected by others. Behaviour which any reasonable person would realise would be likely to offend will be harassment without the recipient having to make it clear in advance that behaviour of that type is not acceptable to him or her. If it is not clear in advance that certain behaviour would be unwelcome to, or could offend a particular person then first-time conduct which unintentionally causes offence will not be harassment but it will become harassment if the conduct continues after the recipient has made it clear, by words or conduct, that such behaviour is unacceptable to him or her.

Some bullying or harassment will constitute unlawful discrimination, e.g. if it relates to a person’s sex, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age.

  1. Diversity

The PSA is committed to ensuring equal opportunities and fairness of treatment for all its members and values the differences that a diverse membership brings to the organisation.

The organisation will not discriminate and will not condone discrimination because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race (which includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Our aim is to provide an environment in which people feel comfortable and where everyone is treated with respect and dignity.

We can find strength in diversity. Different people have different perspectives on issues, and that can be valuable for solving problems or generating new ideas. Being unable to understand why someone holds a viewpoint doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. Don’t forget that we all make mistakes and blaming each other doesn’t get us anywhere. Instead, focus on resolving issues, or respectfully accepting the co-existence of differing opinions and perspectives.

  1. Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing is when an individual knows, or suspects, that there is some wrongdoing occurring within the Association and alerts the organisation or the relevant authority accordingly.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 gives protection to individuals who make a qualifying disclosure when they reasonably believe it is in the public interest for them to do so.

If you know, or suspect, that some wrongdoing is occurring within the Association, you should raise the matter immediately following the complaints procedure detailed below.

Raising concerns or making complaints about Members of the Professional Speaking Association.

Please email [email protected] providing full details of your concerns.

It is important that anyone, whether it is another speaker, a booker, a client, a member of an audience or a member of the public who interacts with any Member of the PSA can raise a complaint without fear of retaliation or being ignored.

As a membership organisation we know it takes courage to come forward and share concerns and we treat all concerns with appropriate vigour and fairness. We won’t permit retaliation against anyone who raises questions or reports concerns about Professional Speaking activities.

The intention is to be as transparent as possible whilst protecting the innocent from perceptions of wrong doing.

Remit of the PSA

The PSA is not an arbiter of personal or individual disputes between Members or between Members and their clients on commercial matters. The PSA will only become involved if all other normal resolution procedures have been exhausted, unless there is evidence of the profession being brought into disrepute beyond those involved.

Beyond that the PSA will investigate all concerns that directly concern the code of ethics and conduct, whether raised by a Member or a member of the public, about a Member or Members. Investigations will be conducted confidentially by all parties until concluded.

Complaints process

When a complaint is raised an investigation will be conducted in confidence and the following process will be adhered to:-

  1. The PSA will validate if the concern is within its remit to investigate;
  2. All parties will be notified, and the PSA will request evidence;
  3. Any potentially illegal actions will be referred to the appropriate authorities;
  4. Once evidence has been provided and collated all parties will have an opportunity to comment. This may be done via any reasonable medium, ie in writing, in person, via the phone, etc.;
  5. The PSA may ask for any additional supporting information that is required and Members must not unreasonably withhold access to that information;
  6. A decision on the outcome of the complaint will be delivered in writing within an appropriate timeframe;
  7. Where the complaint is upheld the PSA may provide guidance to the Member, or impose a sanction(*);
  8. Any member who is found guilty of a serious offence whilst a member will may be suspended or expelled from the PSA without entitlement to a refund of membership fees paid;
  9. Any member issued with a formal sanction will be offered the right to appeal.

(*) As a professional membership organisation the PSA’s sanctions are limited to:

  • A formal warning;
  • Temporary or permanent downgrading or suspension of membership level; and
  • Expulsion from the Association.

It is our intention to allow members to learn from our experience when an ethical issue has arisen. To this end, when a complaint investigation is concluded and sanctions have been applied the result of the investigation may, where appropriate and, at the PSA’s sole discretion be published on the PSA’s website(s). These documents may be anonymised as appropriate to protect some or all members involved.

Last updated September 2019