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Getting Chartered restored my faith in my own professionalism

Emma Duke, CIPR International committee member who works with communicators across the globe through her consultancy business, Emma Duke PR, shares her Chartership journey. Emma is an experienced communicator, trainer, presenter, mentor, and writer, with over 18 years of experience in corporate communications, working for PR agencies and large, global organisations like Diageo and Oxford University Press. Her experience spans internationally, from supporting curriculum reform in Kenya, reputational issues in Pakistan, copyright battles in India to navigating geopolitics in China.

‘Have you ever had your ethics challenged and how did you use the CIPR Code of Conduct to respond?’

The question hung in the air.

My fellow assessees responded calmly and readily. And then it was my turn.

I was ready: ethics is one of the three core areas of Chartership assessment, along with strategy and leadership. I had been given example questions on each area and source material, two weeks in advance. And I had studied hard. But this question sent me into a tailspin.

There’s a backstory here. I launched my freelance consultancy early this year – again, the prep that went into this launch was immense: the branding, the website, the photography, the SEO – but I was hiding something crucial. My confidence was in a ditch.

A damaging relationship with my former manager had me questioning every decision I made. Over-preparing for every situation, terrified of being tripped up, caught out, trapped – every time.

I had always planned to get Chartered and surprised myself by waiting to do so with my own money, now I was freelance. In retrospect that decision now seems very clear to me: this was my opportunity to reclaim my relationship with my profession.

I watched the CIPR Greater London webinar, I spoke to trusted Chartered professionals, I reminded myself of the theory I spent 2015 studying in my Diploma. And I enjoyed it all of that preparation – no matter how tricky it was to juggle with my new clients!

So, that ethics question: I had spent so long battling unethical decisions in the past year, my willingness to champion my values had been worn down. I was exhausted. Everyone who knows me will tell you, I’m never quiet when something goes against my values – and the Code of Conduct very much reflects those values. And so – while the situation felt challenging, I realised I was being given the opportunity to re-connect with that passion.

I did it. I answered that question and the next. I managed to resist my (constant) urge to speak over others to be the best pupil and held space to listen to my follow professionals’ examples and stories. I learnt and I grew and I listened to myself give good examples, interact in an informed way, apply my knowledge: my experience gained over the past 18 years - reflecting working relationships across the globe.

I reminded myself of a cast-aside affirmation: I know what I’m talking about.

I am proud to be Chartered – I’ve put it on my LinkedIn, my stationary, everywhere (yes, I’m that person)! My pride comes from loving what I do and the people I have met and worked with, doing the same thing. Public relations, done well, changes behaviour, informs in the face of fake news and makes the world a better place. And I am proud of myself.


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