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Dealing with conflicts of interest

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Although conflicts of interest are not uncommon in the workplace, they can be harmful to a business if they are not appropriately managed.

A conflict of interest exists when an employee’s private interests interfere with their performance of their duties. For example, it may give them a personal advantage. It is important to note a conflict of interest can be an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest.

Some examples of conflict of interest in the workplace include:

  • an employee recommending a friend for an advertised position
  • an employee starting up their own business on the side with similar products or services
  • a supervisor dating a staff member
  • a manager not disclosing that a candidate applying for a position is a relative or close friend
  • an employee accepting a gift from a supplier in exchange for business over other suppliers
  • an employee failing to disclose a second job which conflicts with the business

Creating a code of conduct is one of the best ways to address conflicts of interest. A code of conduct provides guidelines explaining your business’ culture, mission and expectations for professional behaviour. You can include what is classified as a conflict of interest including examples and how they will be managed, i.e., disclosing a conflict of interest to a manager.

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