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Concordia updates its conflict of interest policy

The revised guidelines are now separate from the whistleblowing procedures
May 11, 2020
By Howard Bokser

A supplier offers a Concordia employee a free pair of hockey tickets. Due to her recent promotion, a staff person is now her brother-in-law’s manager. A professor is asked on a date by his student after the term is finished.

Are these situations conflicts of interest? If so, how should the employee proceed?

Concordia’s newly updated Policy on Conflict of Interest (BD-4) covers these and several other examples of conflict of interest. The related document, Consensual Romantic or Sexual Relationships Guidelines, covers the types of conflicts that can occur in personal interactions.

At its meeting on March 11, the Concordia Board of Governors approved revisions to the BD-4 policy recommended by the Governance and Ethics Committee. BD-4 had been called the Code of Ethics and Safe Disclosure Policy Applicable to Employees of Concordia University and was last updated in 2016.

The Board also approved the Policy on Employee Disclosure of Wrongdoings (BD-16), presented by the Audit Committee.

The new policy provides a mechanism for employees to report perceived work-related offences by others. The procedure for these actions was previously included under BD-4 and also contained in a separate procedures document.

Melodie Sullivan is Concordia’s senior legal counsel and frequently chairs policy review committees.

“Our committee updated the policy at this time for several reasons, primarily in order to separate the conflict of interest policy from the policy for disclosing wrongdoing, or ‘whistleblowing,’” she says.

“BD-4 is now a pure conflict of interest policy. We also adopted gender-neutral language and added greater clarity to the definitions.”

The BD-4 policy directs employees to “conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner.” It gives examples of potential employee conflicts of interest, such as for using Concordia goods or services for activities — other than those approved by the university — for their own advantage or benefit or for those of a relative.

An employee who isn’t sure if their situation constitutes a conflict of interest can seek guidance and consult their supervisor. The policy explains the steps an employee can follow to disclose a conflict of interest to help manage such a conflict.

The BD-16 policy describes Concordia employees’ recommended steps for reporting — whistleblowing — an apparent wrongdoing. The list of such acts includes violations of the law, misuse of university funds and abuse of authority.

Read the full list of
Concordia University policies.


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