Living Code of Ethical Behavior


The SIETAR USA Ethics Committee and Chair are responsible for the coordination of educational activities designed to support the understanding of and participation in the LIVING CODE.

On a regular basis, the committee will review the LIVING CODE and supervise any proposed revisions deemed necessary to reflect current and timely issues. The committee is available to assist members who have ethical concerns in their intercultural work and will oversee the submission and processing of complaints regarding possible violations of the LIVING CODE.

The following members of SIETAR USA served on the 2021 Ethics Committee, and several have been involved in this process since the LIVING CODE was created in 2013.

All have a deep interest and commitment to abiding by the LIVING CODE. They stand ready to support you with ethical issues that you face in your intercultural work and to keep the LIVING CODE alive. We encourage you to contact us at
 [email protected]

Your 2021 Committee

• Kurt Nemes, Ethics Committee Chair

• Bettina Byrd-Giles

• Sandy Fowler, Past President

• Luby Ismail

• Alan Richter

• Cheryl Woehr, Professional Development Director

Purpose and History


The Purpose of the LIVING CODE is to help SIETAR USA members and its Board of Directors to:

  • Maintain and advance expectations of high ethical standards in our practice and in our interactions with colleagues, clients, the media, and all organizations with whom one has contact.
  • Stimulate continued conversations about ethics among members and the Board to support and advance ethical practice.
  • Provide intercultural, diversity, equity and inclusion services to individuals and organizations that reflect the values of SIETAR USA.
  • Establish and follow a transparent process for managing complaints about the ethical behavior of SIETAR USA members and the SIETAR USA Board. 


The Ethics Committee of 2021 is pleased to introduce its update of the Living Code of Ethical Behavior to the membership of SIETAR USA. After months of pouring over resources, getting input from reviewers, and talking among ourselves regarding every word in the Code, and with the approval of the Board of Directors, the newest version was presented to the SIETAR USA membership in November 2021.

Until 2013, the Code of Ethics used by SIETAR USA was the Code that had been used by SIETAR International. The SIETAR USA Living Code of Ethical Behavior was introduced at the 2013 Conference in Washington, DC. That effort culminated a history of consideration regarding professional ethics. The Living Code had its origins in the 1980’s work of SIETAR International on ethical standards in intercultural work. After the formation of SIETAR USA in the year 2000, members such as Andy Reynolds, Sandy Fowler, Rebecca Peterson, and Dr. Robert Hayles continued to see the urgent need for such a document in the new organization and worked to bring it about for over ten years.

In 2011, the Eye on Ethics series was launched, with seventeen essays addressing various ethical issues encountered by SIETAR USA members. At the conference in Minneapolis in 2012, the Ethics Working Group was created and charged with bringing recommendations to the Board of Directors for a document on ethical standards in our profession. Under the leadership of President Christopher Deal, the 2013 effort initiated by Maria Thacker, Ethics Portfolio Chair and the hard work of the Ethics Working Group chaired by Michael Tucker, with the help of Kyoung-Ah Nam, Ann Ehringhaus, Naomi Ludeman Smith, Lisa Singh, and Virginia Citkin produced the  SIETAR USA 2013 LIVING CODE OF ETHICAL BEHAVIOR as a guide to performing exceptional intercultural work.

With the appointment of Cheryl Woehr to the position of Professional Development Director on the SIETAR USA Board, work began on the update to the Living Code in 2020.  The President at the time, Sandra Fowler, determined that the Living Code needed to be examined with a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) lens. In addition, ethical codes had been developed in the SIETAR community providing new resources. The world had changed, and the Living Code needed to be revisited and refreshed.

We acknowledge that SIETAR USA strives to work against world social injustice and intolerance through intercultural dialogue and ethical leadership and responsibility to promote understanding. The standards of conduct set forth in the Living Code of Ethical Behavior provide guidelines for SIETAR USA Members for ethical professional practice in the fields of intercultural, diversity, equity, and inclusion education, training, and research. This Code lays out the values that SIETAR USA and its members uphold: diversity, respect, equity, integrity, objectivity, sustainability, community, and inclusion.

Members recognize that creating ethical principles is an ongoing and dynamic process that requires self-reflection and questioning, both as individuals and within the organization. To use the designation as a SIETAR USA Ethical Interculturalist, members must agree to and abide by this Living Code of Ethical Conduct and maintain their membership. Failure to live up to the Code may result in losing membership privileges.

SIETAR USA created a simple process whereby members may publicly commit to the ethical standards professed by SIETAR USA. Each member who chooses to abide by the Living Code will be designated an “Ethical Interculturalist,” making them eligible to have their names listed as such on the website.

The Living Code of Ethical Behavior was originally given its organic name to indicate that as the world changes so should our ethical precepts. The Living Code includes not only many of the aspects of ethical codes of related fields; it also has elements unique to our field, elements that we believe reflect the unique nature of our profession. We also believe this ethical code improves the standing of our field in the eyes of our clients, prospective employers, and other professionals. 

The LIVING CODE Assessment Quiz


All SIETAR USA members are encouraged to take the Ethics Assessment available on the SIETAR USA website.

The Ethics Assessment is a short quiz (5 questions), the answers to which are based on the information contained in the November 2021 edition of SIETAR USA’s Living Code of Ethical Behavior.

You will receive your assessment results immediately upon completion of the quiz.

If you receive 100%: Congratulations! You will be identified as an Ethical Interculturalist in the SIETAR USA membership directory. You may also use the ‘Ethical Interculturalist’ badge on your LinkedIn profile, your email signature, etc. Thank you for your commitment to ethical excellence!

If you receive a score of less than 100%: You are encouraged to take a few minutes to review the most current version of the Code and retake the assessment at your convenience.

Ethical Practice - Resource Material

Looking for additional resources related to practicing as an Ethical Interculturalist?

Click below for a list of resource materials.

Resource Materials

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