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Straight Talk from PADI CEO: Holding Ourselves to the Highest Standard

Many PADI Members think negatively when they hear “Quality Management.” Maybe that’s to be expected. In contexts outside PADI, “quality management” is often associated with punishment, and certainly The Undersea Journal’s list of expelled and suspended names reminds us that, when called for, there is a punitive side.

In truth, the PADI Quality Management Program is not negative; it’s one of our greatest strengths and positive assets, enforcing and documenting the PADI organization’s professionalism. Ethically, we must hold ourselves to a high standard because job one is diver safety. There is no room for compromise on that, and safety is followed by solid education and customer satisfaction.

As you likely know, in diving only PADI has a full-time global QM process administered by a dozen employees distributed over the Regional Headquarters. Only PADI proactively sends Course Evaluation Questionnaires (CEQs) to at least one in three PADI program participants. The PADI QM process exemplifies our mutual commitment to diving’s highest, most professional standards.

Standards violations are taken seriously. They have to be, because they may affect safety (primary concern) and the reputation of PADI Professionals like you and me in the eyes of the public (important concern). When the QM team gets surveys back or receives reports directly from PADI Members and customers that indicate a possible problem, they follow up promptly, objectively, and impartially.

The first step is contacting the PADI Member involved to learn more. This often clears things up, with no further action needed. If not the QM team digs deeper, contacting other parties involved to learn more as necessary. After getting a clear picture of the situation, they determine an appropriate action and notify the PADI Member. The PADI Member may ask for reconsideration, especially when they can provide additional relevant information. There are several possible outcomes, with an emphasis on correction:

Counseling – This applies when the problem was a misunderstanding, delay, or customer service matter. The QM team advises the PADI Member how to deal with a similar situation in the future, and reviewing the related PADI Standards and Procedures is effective if there has been no previous history of the issue. A Standard Acknowledgement Agreement documents understanding the PADI Standards and Procedures that were discussed.
Standards Compliance Agreement – This applies if a PADI Member wasn’t aware of a standard, or made a mistake with no significant risk to safety and without blatant disregard for safety and other standards. In writing, the member acknowledges the violation and agrees to not repeat it. This may be followed by a review period during which all the member’s students received Course Evaluation Questionnaires.
Retraining – Cases that require more than a Standard Compliance Agreement go to the Quality Management Committee (QMC) to determine further action. Most common is a Prescriptive Status Update that retrains specifically the concern areas. If it appears the member needs substantial updating, retaking a course appropriate to the member’s level, such as the IDC for a PADI Instructor, may be called for. This can also require a repeat Instructor Examination to demonstrate mastery of the training.
Suspension – Standards violation that jeopardize safety, blatantly omit required skills and/or disregard good judgment may call for punitive action. It also applies if the member was untruthful or uncooperative with QMC investigation. Suspensions are published and, after suspension, retraining is required to regain Teaching Status. Note that as a public safety precaution, in cases with severe injury/fatal incidents during training, PADI Instructors are immediately placed in Non-Teaching Pending Status. This is not a suspension, but required until the QMC can review the incident and the member’s role in it.
Termination – If the QMC determines that someone’s behavior is not in the best interests of the PADI organization, termination may result. Unprofessional and/or unethical violations of the PADI Member Code of Practice, significant legal convictions, as well as flagrantly disparaging the PADI organization’s reputation can also result in terminations. Terminations may be published if the QMC determines it is necessary.
Expulsion – A PADI Member permanently loses their membership status if they wantonly disregard standards and/or community safe diving practices, or if they fail to change their behavior after previous QM correction. Expulsions are always published.

Note that the emphasis is on correction. The QM follow up shows that, except in rare cases, correction works. That’s not surprising. We know the vast majority of PADI Members are professionals who value and follow standards. In fact, more than 96 percent of CEQs come back with no issues noted, many with glowing diver testimonials – you see them in The Undersea Journal and at – about the PADI Pros who served them.

It’s worth noting it’s a PADI standard that if PADI Members see a standards violation, we report it. Understandably, we may have misgivings about this at times: maybe we didn’t see it right; maybe it was just this one time. That’s for the QM teams to sort out. Remember this: Reporting standards violations doesn’t hurt; it helps by providing correction. It helps restore someone’s professional conduct and furthers that person’s success. It helps protect the reputation of all PADI Members. Most importantly, though, if the violation involved safety, correcting it may save someone’s life.

Safe diving,
Drew Richardson
PADI CEO and President

The post Straight Talk from PADI CEO: Holding Ourselves to the Highest Standard appeared first on PADI Pros.

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