During the June 2023 ICMA Executive Board meeting, the board considered the Committee on Professional Conduct (CPC)’s recommendation to revise the guidelines to Tenets 4, 9, and 11.

As background, the board issued a statement in June 2020 that included an action item for the CPC: “We will revisit our Code of Ethics to better integrate our ethical commitment to racial justice and equity into the very fiber of the 12 tenets.” Since this time, ICMA has engaged in a dedicated effort to gather member feedback on potential revisions to the Code to fully reflect the profession’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In December 2022, the board approved placing the proposed revisions to Tenets 1, 4, 9, and 11 on a ballot. ICMA’s Constitution requires the membership vote to approve changes to the language of the tenets by ballot, while the board has the authority to revise the guidelines. The CPC also asked the board for feedback on its proposed revisions to the companion guidelines to Tenets 4, 9, and 11 in December 2022.

The special election was open March 1-31, 2023. The four ballot measures (Tenets 1, 4, 9, and 11) passed with approval rates of 84 percent or greater. The special election on the Code had the highest participation rate in ICMA’s online voting history with 32 percent (2,533) of Corporate members casting a vote. The results were announced to the board and membership in April 2023.

Since the membership approved changes to Tenets 1, 4, 9, and 11, the CPC recommended the board formally adopt revisions to the companion guidelines to Tenets 4, 9, and 11.


ICMA Executive Board approved revisions to the guidelines for Tenets 4, 9, and 11. The revised guideline language to Tenets 4, 9, and 11 is effective June 2, 2023, and is included below:

Tenet 4 Guidelines

Effects of Decisions. Members should inform the appropriate elected or appointed official(s) of a decision's anticipated effects on community members.

Promote Equity. Members should ensure fairness and impartiality in accessing programs and services and in the enforcement of laws and regulations. Members should assess and propose solutions to strive to eliminate disparities.

The “Inclusion” guideline will move to Tenet 9 and be renamed “Engagement.”

Tenet 9 Guideline

Engagement. Members should ensure community members can actively engage with their local government as well as eliminate barriers and support involvement of the community in the governance process.

Tenet 11 Guideline

Diversity and Inclusion. It is the member’s responsibility to recruit, hire, promote, retain, train, and support a diverse workforce at all levels of the organization.


Details on the revisions to Tenets 1, 4, 9, and 11 approved by the membership and the board-approved changes to the companion guidelines to Tenets 4, 9, and 11:

Read the Summary 

Special election on Tenets 1, 4, 9, and 11 of the ICMA Code of Ethics results:

View Election Results

View the newly revised ICMA Code of Ethics:

Code of Ethics


Members with questions about the revisions or their ethical obligations as outlined in the Code can contact Jessica Cowles, ethics director, at jcowles@icma.org.

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