9. Interviewer: So getting back to your own experiences, what education or previous experience, professional experience do you think best prepared you for your role now and for the rigors of ethical decision making and in your case, guiding people to make ethical decisions? What experience do you think helped you and prepared you the most for the role that you play now?
Tchividjian: When I think of the students now, I think being very current in what’s going on in the world. I’m always very interested in not just politics, but social issues. It’s helpful because once you join a firm you have to deal with so many aspects of life that if you have some base knowledge or experience, that’s going to be helpful. Being able to listen; listening really closely; sometimes asking to yourself, what did the person really tell me? We wear different levels of masks and what is the person not telling me? I think in terms of ethics, you want to help. That’s a basic element. You want to be helpful. You’re not a judge; you’re not a prosecutor. You’re trying to help people avoid making mistakes and then deal with mistakes when they happen. I think I had those attributes.
13. Interviewer: So do you think that younger workers today, if we can transition a little bit, do you think younger workers today are prepared for informed ethical decision making? Do you think that younger workers today are prepared to make the kind of decisions in public relations that they need to make?
Tchividjian: It all depends on their education. It depends on the college they’ve been to. I’ve talked to many young college graduates and when we talk about ethics and they say yes, I’ve had an ethics course that really counted, that was interesting, so I think it depends. [Also] younger employees are more current, I think than twenty, thirty, forty years ago because of new media, because of exposure to our world, and are more aware of the recent scandals to be careful not to become cynical. I think ethics can help because there is another way. There is a right way. You can be proud of the work you do and you can be proud of the company you work for. With the economic situation [the way it is now], you may not be as ready to leave a company than before because you might not be able to find another job. So maybe that’s not [having] a good effect on ethics.
17. Interviewer: What about professional accreditation? Is professional accreditation necessary to guarantee ethical standards in the field of public relations? And if so, what should the standards be for accreditation that would lead to more ethical decision-making?
Tchividjian: I think accreditation is very important. I am unfortunately not a member of APR, but maybe I should be and maybe I will. I think highly of it because it’s more than just recognition of what you know, there’s also an element of education about ethics in most of those programs, and I’m sure it’s the same in the Arthur Page Society. So I highly recommend it; I think it’s very important. It won’t guarantee anything, but it’s very important. Nothing is guaranteed.
Interviewer: Right. What about continued education for senior public relations professionals. Do you think that’s something that can lead to more ethical understanding and do you also think that it’s necessary? Is this something that you think seasoned professionals should be back in the classroom and learning about this something they can learn on the job?
Tchividjian: I have mixed feelings about that; theoretically I would think it’s a good idea, but when you look at executives that are involved hours and hours a day with issues unless it’s something totally new, I don’t see them taking the time or thinking it’s necessary to go and get some more credit points like lawyers do. I think if it would be interesting if it was something totally unknown to them or their field or their expertise was presented, then it might be worth it. But it’s hard with their busy schedules and their amount of clients to put aside some time for those credits. I know that the legal profession requires it, but it is more complex because new things come up all the time in the legal world; that’s not quite true for PR.