New IOA Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics

Updated Board-Approved Documents Now Available


We are pleased to announce that the IOA Board of Directors approved the final, revised Standards of Practice (SOP) and Code of Ethics (COE) at its meeting on 17 March 2022. The new documents are now in effect and are available for download on the IOA website. Current SOP & COE translations include, Amharic, Chinese, French, French Canadian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Latin American Spanish, and Thai. If you would like to suggest another language to add to our translation list, please email the IOA office at [email protected].

IOA Standards of Practice
IOA Code of Ethics

The final, approved SOP and COE incorporate additional changes to the previous drafts shared with members in January 2022, based on member input provided through the recent online survey and Town Halls. A summary of the final round of changes, as well as an updated chart comparing the original SOP with the new approved SOP, is available below. 

Summary of Changes
SOP Comparison Table

We understand that it will take some time for ombuds offices to make corresponding updates to materials such as office charters and policy documents, website and marketing materials, and any other references to the SOP or COE. We encourage all organizational ombuds to begin making these changes. Please be sure to link any references to the SOP and COE to this link:

Thank you to all IOA members who engaged in reviewing and providing feedback throughout the revision process as well as the many volunteers who contributed to drafting the revisions over the past six years. Particular thanks goes to the most recent IOA Board working group, including David Carver, Bruce MacAllister, Steven Prevaux, and Chuck Howard.  

Next Steps

We anticipate interest among members in learning about, discussing, sharing, and considering the impact of the new SOP and COE in your practice and our profession. Your first opportunity to discuss changes together will be during the two "Sessions with the Board" at the 17th Annual IOA Conference taking place 4–6 April 2022.

There is additional work ahead for IOA in this regard, including updating the IOA Foundations Course curriculum and planning additional webinars or other opportunities for members to share best practices. Additionally, the Board of Certification for CO-OP® will make adjustments to the CO-OP® certification process to reflect changes made in the new documents. Stay tuned for additional information and opportunities to engage with each other.

A Look Back On Our Process

2016: Formation of the Task Force & Initial Investigation

The IOA Standards of Practice (SOP) and Code of Ethics (COE) review process began in 2016 under the leadership of IOA President Reese Ramos. At that time IOA Board members David Carver and Bruce MacAllister were asked to co-chair an SOP & COE Task Force that included Isabel Calderon, David Miller, and Jessica Kuchta-Miller. The project involved a successive series of IOA member surveys to identify potential changes and updates, extensive benchmarking, and multiple rounds of additional input resulting in extensive revisions and refinements to the proposed documents.

With the assistance and direction of the IOA Board, the Task Force then identified a group of 14 panelists to help design the overall project approach and to provide initial input into areas of focus for potential change.  

Following this step, the Task Force developed a survey that was distributed to the IOA Board and Committee Chairs. With additional input and direction from the Board, the Task Force next surveyed a large group of additional organizational ombuds who were identified as thought leaders. Two rounds of survey feedback were completed and analyzed. At the same time, the Task Force conducted extensive benchmarking of similar ombuds practice documents utilized by other professional ombuds associations.

2019 – 2021: Data Analysis & Further Inquiry

Qualitative and quantitative analyses were conducted on all of the data that the Task Force collected to identify evidence-based specific changes to the COE & SOP. The final Task Force recommendations were presented to the IOA Board in 2019. The Board assembled a working group to make additional revisions and then released a draft for member review in the Fall of 2020. The working group methodically reviewed and evaluated member comments and suggestions received via email, online survey, and Town Hall sessions. The majority of the comments supported the proposed changes, but there were a number of members who offered valuable constructive criticism and specific suggestions.

2022: Revisions & Final Approval

The working group then presented a revised draft to members for additional feedback via a survey and Town Halls in January 2022. Final drafts of the COE and SOP incorporating additional member feedback were presented to the Board of Directors on 17 March 2022 and were approved.

Thank you for your engagement and expertise and as always, please send questions, comments, or feedback to [email protected].

Looking for additional information on the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics?

SOP & COE Page
All Related Blog Posts
All Town Hall Recordings
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