"In matters of principle, stand like a rock!
In matters of taste, swim with the current."
- Thomas Jefferson.
It may be easy for some people to tell the difference between principle and taste, but it's a bit more complicated in the consulting profession.
Your reputation as a consultant will be created by thousands of actions, but may be lost by only one. There are many jokes about consultants based on the actions of a few. For this reason, it is important that as a consultant, or as a client of a consultant, you are aware of the guidelines and ethical standards that set the 'rules to play by' in this game.
The Georgia Chapter of The Institute of Management Consultants has a Code of Ethics for it's members that relates to Clients, Client Engagements, Fees and the Profession in general. In computer consulting, a good resource is the Independant Computer Consultants Association Code of Ethics. Another good resource on the web for advice on the ethics of various business transactions is The Ethics Resource Center.
Large consulting firms have their own Codes of Ethics that may be valuable to look at. Two good examples of these are Price Waterhouse Coopers and Deloitte.
Consulting Ethics links: