CONFLICT OF INTEREST
IEEE, as a nonprofit organization, is held to high standards of ethics including candidly assessing real or perceived conflicts of
What is a Conflict of Interest (COI)?
A COI occurs when a volunteer or employee has a personal business or professional activity that would create a conflict between their personal interests and the interests of IEEE, which might result in him or her being influenced by this personal interest when
making a decision for IEEE. Members of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) are in a position to make decisions or cast votes that could substantially and directly, or indirectly, affect any such person of their family members’ personal, financial or
business interests or (ii) any such person has a fiduciary responsibility to another organization.
Personal benefits do not necessarily always refer to financial gain, but may also include offers of employment, preferential treatment, benefits any other organization or similar benefits.
Why does IEEE care about my personal relationships and financial interests?
Actual or perceived conflicts of interest can impact IEEE’s reputation and relationships. As outlined in the IEEE Bylaws and IEEE Policies, Section 9.11, we must avoid conduct that may lead the public to conclude that anyone is using an IEEE position for personal interests or the interests of their family and close friends.
IEEE policies require the disclosure of potential conflicts so that IEEE can evaluate such relationships and interests if necessary, and put in place controls to prevent such conflicts. See IEEE’s Constitution and Bylaws, Section I-300, 2. Conflict of Interest and IEEE Policies, Section 9 Conflict of Interest for more information on this topic.
What do I need to disclose?
You must disclose the outside activities, personal relationships, and financial interests that may relate to your IEEE responsibilities. The examples provided below are just a few of the situations which may give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest:
- Business or employment relationships with other IEEE volunteers, members or employees, or companies with which IEEE does or may conduct business with.
- Service on Advisory Committees, Board, or Review panels (whether paid or volunteer)
- Employment by the university or facility sponsoring or being paid to host a conference or other IEEE-related event
- A volunteer, their family or close friend owns, in whole or in part, or is employed by the management company they want to engage to support conference
- An employee seeks or is offered a position or engaged to provide services to a member, volunteer or IEEE committee outside of the scope of their responsibilities at IEEE or that are similar in nature to the services IEEE provides, i.e., website, event planning, member management, etc.
How do I avoid a conflict of interest?
Avoiding a conflict of interest means avoiding circumstances that would lead to a reasonable person believing there might be a situation compromised by an existing relationship, affiliation or connection to an individual. In general, when determining what to
disclose or what to do, we advise you to consider these possible situations:
- Attending a meeting with an external organization in your capacity as an HAC representative (or otherwise representing HAC) and advocating for your own personal organization/saying that you, personally, or your organization external to IEEE could provide some service/play some role or with the intention of utilizing the meeting for later personal gain. [If you later (without prior intention) wind up doing business/collaborating with someone you encountered at such a meeting, this should be disclosed for transparency purposes.]
- Using HAC or any IEEE data (such as, but not limited to, project or application and reporting data) in any way for external purposes – for example, to populate non-HAC websites or databases, to develop any sort of intellectual property, such as templates, designs, strategies, etc. If in doubt, please consult with HAC leadership to ensure there is no COI.
- Utilizing HAC or IEEE personal identifiers (email, phone, address, etc.) to contact HAC volunteers or other IEEE members about non-HAC matters, such as your own external organization or election matters
- Utilizing funds from HAC (such as for projects or events) to:
- Pay any organization that you or your family own, work for, or otherwise have an interest in
- Pay for a service that you or a member of the project team would deliver
- Pay/incentivize volunteers on your project team
- Recommending without disclosure and recusal or approving HAC use of a vendor for whom you would receive indirect benefit.
- Voting on any proposal that would directly relate to you.
- A volunteer and their spouse, domestic partner, family member or close personal friend apply for leadership positions on the same activity, event, committee or board.
- A volunteer makes a funding-related decision about a project, event, or activity involving their spouse, domestic partner, family member or close personal friend.
- A volunteer nominates, endorses, or decides about any HAC/SIGHT recognition, such as SIGHT Award candidate, that is their spouse, domestic partner, family member or close personal friend.
These examples are meant to cover, but may not specifically mention, every situation that might arise or potential actions to be taken.
How do I disclose?
As a volunteer, you will be asked by email to submit a conflict of interest disclosure form. If your circumstances change mid-term or during your stint in a volunteer position you can access the disclosure form to update your status.
If you are assuming an appointed volunteer role, you are required to submit your disclosure at least 30 days prior to assuming your position. If you are nominated to an elected volunteer position, you are required to submit your disclosure no more than 30 days after the acceptance of the nomination. All volunteers have a continuing obligation to disclosure if your circumstances change between disclosure periods.
Certain elected positions may be required to submit more frequently when deemed necessary by the IEEE Audit Committee.
Visit IEEE’s Conflict of Interest page for more information.
Violations should be reported to the IEEE Ethics Reporting Line at www.ieee-ethics-reporting.org
The IEEE Legal & Compliance team is here to help
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