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Conflict of Interest

Most people have heard the term "Conflict of Interest." However, often there is confusion about what is meant by the term and whether there are ethical or legal ramifications of such conflicts. We will begin by discussing some conflict definitions. Then we will look at some examples of potential conflict of interest situations.

Per University policy, a possible conflict of interest exists if an employee (or an employee's family member):

  • has an existing or potential financial or other interest which impairs, or might appear to impair, that person's independent, unbiased judgment when performing responsibilities to the University.
  • has a significant business relationship with a person or firm engaging in, or seeking to engage in, business with the University.
  • has a significant ownership interest, and may receive a financial or other benefit from knowledge or information confidential to the University.

BC employees have an obligation to avoid conflicts of interest or any appearance of conflicts between their personal interests and the interests of the University. Conflicts of interest can arise because of circumstances alone (in appearance) without any action on the part of the employee. However, it is also important to recognize that in some cases the risk to all concerned is so small that the University may agree to accept the existence of the conflict.

Conflicts of interest often relate to situations where an employee uses influence with the University for personal gain.  The University expects that employees will refrain from personal activities which could cause or appear to cause a divided loyalty to the legitimate interests of the University. In accordance with the University Professional Standards and Business Conduct General Policy:

  • All University officers, full deans, full directors and employees designated by the President because of their respective duties and responsibilities will disclose to the University, on an annual basis, all business interests, affiliations, and/or relationships that could reasonably give rise to a conflict of interest involving the University.
  • Conflict of Interest Annual Disclosure Statements will be distributed by the Office of Internal Audit to all University officers, full deans, full directors, and other employees who may be affected. The Office of Internal Audit will be responsible for ensuring that all distributed statements are completed and returned to that office each year.

If an actual or potential conflict of interest is disclosed, the affected employee should refrain from further participation in matters to which the conflict relates until the question of conflict has been resolved. The Vice President for Human Resources, in consultation with legal counsel will review all disclosures, and together with the cognizant vice president, will pursue resolution of such conflicts after consulting legal counsel. The President, in consultation with legal counsel, will review and determine the appropriate course of action for conflicts affecting an officer of the University.

Faculty who are not required to complete an annual disclosure statement will be individually responsible for notifying the Academic Vice President should an actual or potential conflict of interest arise. Similarly, staff members who are not required to complete an annual disclosure statement are to notify the cognizant director, vice president, and the Vice President for Human Resources should an actual or potential conflict of interest arise.