The 2021 Ethical Dilemma Competition

Submit an original ethical dilemma for a chance to win a $500 gift card! The Code Guidance Group are looking for ethical dilemmas that involve difficult or conflicting perspectives for an actuary, preferably within a broad public interest context.

Your ethical dilemmas might be used by The Code Guidance Committee for Insights sessions, professionalism training or be provided as a resource for our community to use to develop their ethical  capability.

Actuaries Institute Vice President Naomi Edwards announces the key details for the 2021 Ethical Dilemma Competition.

Rules of the competition

  • Entries will be judged under two categories:
    • Members who have been working in actuarial fields for five years or less; and
    • Members who have been working for more than five years.

  • Entries can be submitted by an individual, or by a pair or group of individuals if you would like to work with a peer on developing your dilemma (with the prize being shared between members of that group).

  • Entries will initially be assessed by the Code Guidance Group to develop a short-list of potential winners, based on the criteria set out below. The final winner in each category will be chosen by a representative from the presidential trio.

  • The prize for the winner in each category is a $500 gift card.

How do I enter?

Your ethical dilemma should include:

  • A description of the ethical scenario, setting out whose ‘role’ we are taking, the relevant circumstances, and any complications that the reader needs to consider.

  • 2-3 discussion questions to prompt the reader’s thoughts as they consider the ethical dilemma.

You do not need to include a conclusion or answers to any of the questions – the ethical dilemma is designed to prompt thought and discussion, rather than provide a ‘model solution’.

Your entry should be 300-400 words long and should be submitted by email to with the subject ‘2021 Ethics Competition’. Entries are due by COB Friday 12 November 2021.

What makes a good ethical dilemma?

When writing your ethical dilemma, consider some of these tips:

  • A good ethical dilemma doesn’t have clear right or wrong answers – it involves areas of grey, where conflicting objectives might both be reasonable, or where the ‘right’ approach is not obvious. Make the reader think hard about what direction they might take.

  • Consider how your dilemma interacts with the Code of Conduct, and whether you can trigger consideration of our professional obligations.

  • Draw on your own professional and personal experience (suitably anonymized, of course). Even if that experience didn’t actually result in a big ‘ethical dilemma’ for you, with some exaggeration or consideration of ‘what if’, you might be able to build a great scenario.

  • While the dilemma should touch on our experiences as actuaries in the workplace, that can encompass any of the wide range of roles and industries that actuaries work in. Think broadly about the types of situation our profession might face and what is in the public interest when dealing with the dilemma.

An example submission

You are a senior actuary working for a medium-sized consulting firm. Your spouse works at one of your firm’s clients, PartnerCo, in a senior decision-making role. You have always recused yourself from doing any work on that client, so that you avoid any conflicts of interest.

A major opportunity has arisen at PartnerCo, and your spouse is going to be making the ultimate decision about which consulting firm to appoint. Winning the work would be a significant boon for your firm and would likely result in a successful year and big financial rewards for your family.

Conscious of your need to manage this conflict, you try to avoid involvement in the preparation of the proposal from your firm. Your only contribution is to be part of the discussion about who should lead the project, and you propose Priya, who you think has the right skills to execute the work – however, you are overruled, and Bruce is put up instead, ignoring your concerns about his lack of experience in this area.

Your spouse is aware of your conflict and tries to avoid talking about the proposal, so you are not put in a difficult situation. But later, after a long frustrating day at work, they mention that people at PartnerCo were frustrated when they heard that Bruce might be put forward as the lead, given that they prefer your firm in almost every other respect. Your spouse raises a questioning eyebrow in your direction and asks, “Surely it’s not in any of our interests for your firm to lose this work?”

  • What appropriate actions could you take at this point of the process?

  • What, if anything, could have been done differently at the outset of this scenario?

Judging criteria

Submissions will be judged based on the following criteria:

  1. Relevance for actuaries/ members of the Institute, having regard to the public interest.

  2. Complexity/quality of ethical dilemma (refer to ‘What makes a good ethical dilemma?’ above).

  3. Link to the Code of Conduct.

  4. Clear lessons learned/take-aways.

  5. Communication – clear articulation of the dilemma and general discussion.


To enter, please email your 300-400 word entry to with the subject ‘2021 Ethics Competition’. Entries are due by COB Friday 12 November 2021.


CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.