Self-regulating organizations (SROs) are a unique group of non-governmental bodies responsible for setting the educational, technical and ethical standards of their members.
An SRO is created when the government recognizes a group of professional members as capable of governing themselves and gives them the privilege of creating and enforcing their own policies and rules, subject to formal government oversight.
Unfortunately, the motives of modern SRO often face skepticism from members of the public they have been appointed to protect. In Robert Shultze’s report “What Does It Mean To Be a Self-governing Regulated Profession?”, he explains the skepticism stems from the true intent of the SRO: professional gain or protection of the public?
The Modern Self-Regulatory Agency
The mandate of the modern SRO is – first and foremost – to serve the public interest. They work to ensure their members remain competent and continue to meet professional and ethical standards, in addition to protecting the public’s interests through their authority to license and discipline members.
SROs are also responsible for establishing professional development programs, maintaining transparent practices and organizational accountability, while facilitating public engagement. It is through these practices that the modern SRO creates value for its members.
The mission and value statements of the modern SRO reflects the organizations’ responsibilities, as illustrated by the following example from the Ontario College of Teachers:
The Ontario College of Teachers commits to:
- Protect the public interest
- Quality, excellence and professionalism
- Honesty and integrity
- Accountability and transparency
- Efficiency, effectiveness and fiscal responsibility
- Inclusivity and respect for diversity
- Respectfulness and teamwork between the College Council, staff and stakeholder community, each respecting the other’s role.
You might have noticed that the Ontario College of Teachers’ obligation to their professional members isn’t explicitly stated in their values. This, of course, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in creating value for their members. To the contrary, it demonstrates how protecting the public good while creating an environment of professionalism, accountability and respect forms the foundation for its high-value member services.