Membership Code of Professional Conduct

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The Council of Trustees (‘Council’) expect all Members to uphold the reputation of The Physiological Society (‘The Society’). The Charity Governance Code states “The board ensures that the charity’s performance and interaction with its stakeholders is guided by the values, ethics and culture put in place by the board”. Positive behaviours should govern the way members act throughout their engagements with any and all of The Society’s activities. This Code gives an overview of the behaviours and standards expected of Members to ensure consistent application of the values, ethos and ways of working of The Society to best nurture a positive, professional community.

This Code of Conduct is applicable to all Members: Honorary, Fellows, Full, Affiliate, Associate and Undergraduate.


As a Member, I undertake to engage in activities of The Society in furtherance of its charitable objects, the Vision and Purpose and Strategy set by the Council, and act in accordance with The Society’s values.


Physiology flourishing


To advance physiology in order to foster the understanding and improvement of life


Three principles guide the way we work, both internally and externally. We will:

(1) Act with integrity

  • Being fair and transparent in our processes
  • Taking time to listen and being respectful of different viewpoints
  • Being accountable for our actions and ensuring our decisions are evidence-based

(2) Be inspiring

  • Expanding horizons and being open to new opportunities
  • Being innovative and forward-thinking in our approach to work
  • Realising potential by sharing skills, knowledge and ideas

(3) Be collaborative

  • Providing opportunities for networking
  • Being supportive of our colleagues to deliver our vision
  • Enriching physiology to enhance the future of the discipline

As a Member of The Society I will:

  • Be an advocate for Physiology and The Society;
  • Act in the best interests of The Society and promote the success of The Society;
  • Not bring The Society into disrepute;
  • When commenting on matters in the public arena, make it clear when I am representing The Society and when comments are mine alone;
  • Conduct my membership and professional undertakings as a physiologist ethically and honestly;
  • Conduct myself professionally and appropriately and be considerate and polite to all those I come into contact with;
  • Work without discrimination and bias and respect diversity, different roles and boundaries and the rights of others; and support efforts to improve the diversity and inclusion at The Society;
  • Engage with The Society’s activities and foster collaborations and networks to nurture the physiology community and discipline as a whole;
  • Share knowledge, expertise and skills to advance the discipline while respecting intellectual property rights and confidentiality;
  • Set a positive example to other members in particular those in the formative stages of their career, providing support and mentorship as appropriate;

Committee, Working Group or Society Representative Members

Where I undertake additional voluntary responsibilities with The Society I will:

  • Be engaged

Exercise care, skill and diligence in performing my duties within the terms of reference and agreed delegated authority of the Committee or Working Group or Society Representative.

  • Be present

Arrive promptly and miss no more than two meetings. Where my absence is unavoidable I will send apologies to the Chair as soon as possible and submit comments on the agenda items and papers prior to the meeting. Reasonable adjustments in the form of remote access to meetings and allowances for absence in exceptional circumstances may be made.

  • Be prepared

Read the agenda and supporting papers sent to me in good time prior to the meeting, think through issues in advance and be prepared to debate and vote on agenda items

  • Effectively delegate

Recognise and respect that the roles of Committee members, Working Groups and staff are different and act within the agreed lines of delegated responsibility to allow the Chief Executive and the Senior Staff the flexibility and autonomy to carry out the operational activities of The Society.

  • Be engaged and constructively challenge

Listen carefully to presentations and actively participate in discussion, debate and voting, in a considered and constructive way, challenging others sensitively and avoiding conflict.

  • Avoid conflicts of interest/loyalty
  1. Declare any conflicts of interest/loyalty and not promote any personal agenda when engaging in discussion.
  2. Form opinions and make suggestions in the best interests of The Society and not as a representative of any group.
  3. Do not allow judgment to be clouded by personal or other professional loyalties.
  4. Not accept benefits from third parties which could give rise to a conflict of interest.
  • Abide by confidentiality

Recognise that the information, data and resources received as a Committee or Working Group Member or Society Representative are confidential to The Society and not share content or information with those outside the group unless authorised by it to do so.

  • Comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Adhere to the GDPR Trustees and Volunteers Compliance Policy.


As a Member of The Society, I undertake to abide by and act in accordance with this Membership Code of Professional Conduct and understand that substantial breach of any part of this Code could lead to my removal as a Member of The Society following procedures as stipulated on the website.


What is a Membership Code of Professional Conduct?

The Membership Code of Professional Conduct (‘the Code’) sets out expectations of conduct and behaviour of Members and outlines the additional responsibilities of those who volunteer on committees or in similar capacities. The Code is a set of principles through which Members engage with the activities of The Society as well as safeguarding Members and The Society should a dispute or inappropriate conduct occur. The Code sets out behaviours and actions that members are most likely doing anyway. It does not set out stringent rules or unrealistic expectations.

Why did Council decide to have one?

The Society Articles of Association (5.1.2) “require such Members to abide by a Code of Professional Conduct which shall be published, amended as necessary, and regulated by the Council”. Following the launch of the #2018-2022 Strategic Plan# (About us/Strategy 2018-2022) in which The Society sets out our core values that guide the way we work, Council wished to develop a mechanism through which these principles could be disseminated throughout the community.

Many similar membership organisations have a code of conduct and it is considered good governance for Council to “ensure that the charity’s performance and interaction with its stakeholders are guided by the values, ethics and culture put in place by the board”.

Why does it include my professional undertakings as a physiologist?

Achieving The Society’s Vision of physiology flourishing requires Members to be passionate advocates for physiology and to promote and preserve the reputation of the discipline and The Society. Council acknowledges and celebrates the diversity of professions that exist within our membership and considers it reasonable to ask that Members commit to undertaking these professional, physiological or associated, practices under the same values of integrity and ethics that we commit to as an organisation.

What do I have to do to sign up?

Existing Members do not need to take any action yet.

The Code now forms part of the “rules” of The Society or “terms and conditions of your membership contract” which you will have agreed to abide by when you first joined as a Member. Completion of your next membership renewal will confirm your agreement. New Members will need to tick the box under the declarations section of their application to agree to the Code and complete the process.

What happens if a breach of the Code occurs?

If a complaint is made against a Member the process The Society will use to investigate the complaint will be underpinned by the principles of natural justice which include:

  1. No bias whether conscious or unconscious
  2. The right to fair hearing
  3. Reasoned Decision

Any complaint will not normally be considered until any ongoing legal proceedings have been concluded.

A complaint against any Member should be submitted confidentially by email to the President and to the Chief Executive. In the case that a complaint is brought against the President, the President-elect shall act in their stead.

At the President’s discretion, a panel of Trustees and the Chief Executive will be instated to review the complaint and to seek any additional information they require to make an informed judgement. The individual against whom the complaint has been made will be notified and given adequate opportunity to be heard and formal minutes will be taken. Both the complainant and the Member being investigated may be accompanied by a friend (or a representative of their union). Any accompanying individual shall act as an observer only and shall not be entitled to actively participate in the hearing and may not advocate on behalf of the person they are accompanying.

The panel will make a collective decision on a reasonable course of action which will be ratified by Council.

Sanctions will normally be either:

  • Dismissal of the dispute,
  • Issue of a formal warning to the accused (in writing from the President), or
  • Expulsion from the membership

Both the complainant and accused will be informed of Council’s decision.

If both parties accept Council’s decision, the sanction will be applied and a note made on the Member’s record. If either party wishes to appeal the decision, they must do so within 21 days of the communication by email to the President and to the Chief Executive.

The individual against which the complaint has been made will not cease to receive any membership benefits for the duration of the investigation.

Where Council has determined expulsion of a Member, the Member will cease to be a Member from the date of the Council meeting at which the decision was taken and shall receive no refund of any membership dues paid in arrears or for the forthcoming year.

Staff are bound by their terms and conditions of their employment so any matters relating to a member of staff should be reported to the Chief Executive and will be dealt with through The Society’s internal HR procedures.

What if I don’t want to sign up?

We hope that all Members can see the Code is intended to nurture a positive culture in which physiology can flourish. However, the Code will form part of the terms and conditions of becoming a Member so if you really don’t want to sign up then you won’t be able to complete your membership application, or renewal. Council will review the Code regularly and are always willing to hear the views of the membership so any questions or observations on the Code can be submitted via

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