Conflict of Interest Guidelines
The Directors of the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology have been entrusted by the Institute’s members to promote and protect its interests. Those interests include increasing, consolidating, and disseminating knowledge concerning Columbia Mountains ecosystems. Inasmuch as the Institute’s principles recognize the need to foster values described as balanced, ethical, collaborative, transparent, and open, it is important that Directors be seen always to place the interests of the Institute above their own when engaged in CMI business. The following points are intended to provide guidance for the CMI Board and for individual Directors in cases where real, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest may arise.
Conflicts of interest include situations:
- where Directors’ private affairs or financial interests are in conflict with their duties and responsibilities or result in a perception that a conflict exists;
- where a Director’s actions compromise or undermine the trust which the public and members place in CMI; and
- which could impair or appear to impair the Directors’ abilities to act in the Institute’s interest.
Conflicts of interest can include both financial and material interests. In addition to actual conflict of interest, there can also be apparent or potential conflict of interest. An apparent conflict of interest occurs when the answer to the following question is “yes”: Would a reasonably informed person perceive that the performance of the Director’s duties and responsibilities could be influenced by their financial or material interest? For example, any time a Director is also directly engaged in a project sponsored or supported by the Institute there is the possibility of an apparent conflict of interest.
A potential conflict of interest is a situation that may develop into a real conflict of interest.
The following guidelines direct all actions and decisions regarding potential and actual conflict of interest in activities sponsored or supported by the CMI. The Directors act in the best interests of the members of CMI:
- the Directors not participate in decisions from which they could benefit financially or materially;
- the Directors regard benefits accruing to immediate family as if the Director in question were to benefit;
- the Directors not use their positions or information obtained therefrom to provide an unfair advantage to themselves, including cases involving grants for funding and other approvals and appointments.
Types of conflict of interest
Self-dealing: In the Director’s CMI role, the individual makes decisions that financially or materially affect the Director as a private citizen or the Director’s immediate family.
Accepting benefits: In the Director’s CMI role, the Director accepts substantial gifts, bribes, services, or other significant benefits that may be perceived to influence the Director.
Influence peddling: The Director accepts benefits in exchange for exerting influence or giving preferential treatment to the giver of the benefit.
Using CMI property: The Director uses CMI property (e.g. photocopiers, telephones) for non-CMI business.
Using confidential information: The Director uses confidential information acquired because of CMI work, for private gain.
Post-appointment: Confidential information that has been gained in the Director’s role is used for private advantage after leaving the CMI.
Procedure when a conflict of interest arises
- It is the responsibility of each Director to immediately disclose in writing to the chair of the Board of Directors the existence of any conflict of interest.
- It is the duty of the Board of Directors of CMI to decide whether such individual may participate in any discussions or vote on the issue that has given rise to the conflict.
- Directors must withdraw from participation in any way in decisions in which they have a financial or material interest.
- When an Director involved in evaluating applications and granting awards for funding on behalf of CMI:
- is the applicant, co-applicant, or co-signor; or is a senior official from the same organization as an applicant; then, unless otherwise directed in writing by CMI, such person shall disclose the fact of the conflict to CMI and not participate in any evaluation of the application or competing proposals.
- belongs to the same organization as an applicant; is an applicant’s colleague; is a competitor of an applicant or involved in an organization or business that is a competitor of the applicant; or (iv) is directly involved in collaborative activities with the applicant; then, unless otherwise directed in writing by CMI, such person shall disclose the fact of the conflict to CMI and not be assigned the applications for review.
- Directors who are in a conflict of interest shall absent themselves without comment prior to any discussion or voting in respect of the application or other issue. However, if such persons must remain in meetings in order to fulfill their administrative responsibilities, they shall not participate in any discussion regarding the application or other issue that has given rise to the conflict of interest.
- Any proposal for funding submitted by Directors in which they, their relatives, or their friends have a financial interest must be forwarded to a minimum of two external reviewers for independent evaluation.
- Should a Director be found to be in conflict of interest that has not be disclosed to the Board as required in point 1 above, the Board may:
a) require the Director to provide full disclosure of the nature of the conflict of interest;
b) by special resolution as per CMI by-laws, remove said Director from the Board.
Alberta Society of Professional Biologists. Code of ethics.
Association of BC Professional Foresters. Code of ethics.
Association of Professional Biologists of BC. Code of ethics.
Kootenay Association for Science and Technology. Conflict of interest policy.
Ministry of Health, Province of BC. Conflict of interest in employment situations: a guide for health service providers.
Southern Interior Forest Extension and Research Partnership. Conflict of interest policy.
University of BC. Conflict of interest guidelines.