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What I mean by client confidentiality

January 9, 2018

Here’s a little story.

Once upon a time I did a piece of work for a charity of which my husband was a Director on the Board, although I was commissioned by a Manager at the charity.  At the close of the project my husband asked the Manager if he could see the report.  “Hasn’t Ruth already showed you it?” asked the Manager.

Nope, I hadn’t, because he was not my client.  My husband might have been closely associated with the charity and indeed technically the boss of my client, but he wasn’t my client.  So no I didn’t show him the report, and he knew better than to ask me for it!

If you commission me to do a piece of work I will not share anything about that work with anyone but you, unless we overtly agree to do otherwise.  I won’t copy anyone else into emails, I won’t pass on the report, and I won’t speak about the rationale or findings informally to anyone at all.  If someone from within or outwith your organisation contacts me and asks me to do any of that I will explicitly ask you whether you would like me to share the information. If you say no, I won’t do it.

So if your staff members, Directors, associates, beneficiaries, respondents or (shudder) the press start to hassle me for information… even if it is years after the project ended… I will come to you first, and you can decide how you would like me to respond.

If you choose to make the research findings public (say by posting the report on your website) I might link to it or blog about it or mention it in conversation.  Actually, I will probably jump all over that chance because (due to the issues I’m talking about!) I rarely get to do this.  But I will only ever refer to what you have chosen to put in the public domain, and no more.

If you commission a research project from me it is yours – not mine – and I will treat it accordingly with the care and confidentiality it deserves.







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