Conflicts of Interest in the workplace are defined as “(1) Any circumstance, relation or arrangement (2) whether intentional or accidental, (3) that presently does or might in the future (4) serve to tempt a person to address, pursue or promote (5) interests contrary to those of the person’s employer (6) other than contrary interests knowingly consented to by the employer.” The definition certainly can apply to a host of situations and that is why it is important that you understand and recognized the concepts underlying conflicts of interest.
Here are a few but not all of the scenarios to watch out for:
- Hiring a relative to fill a vacant position, this is a conflict even if this relative is highly qualified.
- Sharing confidential information with a client or competitor, putting your relationship with the client ahead of the company that you are representing.
- Accepting a favor or a gift from a client. It sets an expectation for a returned “favor”.
- Being employed by, or doing business with, a competitor in any capacity.
- Doing any kind of business with a relative, or a company in which a relative has an interest or a job.
- Entering into an agreement with a vendor or client.
Business owners and companies need to make known the policy regarding “Conflicts of Interest” and generally provide examples that are relevant to risks of conflict in their particular business. Never assume that “this is too petty or small to worry about.” In the context of Conflicts of Interest “size does not matter.” As the saying goes, “The principle is more important than the principal.”