Conflicts of interest may not be illegal per se. But they may lead to corruption, for example when someone uses their official authority to benefit themselves , a relative or friend. Therefore, preventing conflicts of interest can also prevent corrupt practices that can impair the organization.
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) therefore recommends that enterprises closely monitor and regulate actual or potential conflicts of interest, or the appearance thereof, of their directors, officers, employees, agents and representatives and make sure they don’t take advantage of conflicts of interest of others.
Based on an extensive exchange of good practices among its members, from many countries and from different sectors, and on a thorough benchmarking of their approaches, the ICC recently issued (pdf) the ICC Guidelines on Conflicts of interest in Enterprises.
The Guidelines are meant as a practical tool, not a dictionary. Their primary focus is on the private sector but can be applied with suitable adjustments by all organizations, in any sector, of any size, and for profit or non-profit alike.
The target group for the ICC Conflicts Guidelines are compliance officers, directors, officers, employees, agents and representatives.
There’s a practical summary in the introduction that’s especially useful for SMEs.
The Guidelines provide among other things a definition of a conflict of interest, with explanatory notes and a description of three types of conflicts with examples.
There is also guidance on communication and training, evaluation of a policy on conflicts of interest (with a description of the key elements of a policy), and how to prevent, manage and mitigate conflicts.
The publication concludes by describing four “dilemma” scenarios.
The ICC Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in Enterprises are part of a much larger number of ICC anti-corruption standards, which are collected in the ICC Business Integrity Compendium.
The ICC is the world’s largest business organization with a network of over 6 million members in 135 countries. It works to promote international trade, responsible business conduct and a global approach to regulation through a unique mix of advocacy and standard setting activities.
Jeroen Brabers, pictured above, is Chair of the CR & Anti-corruption Commission of ICC Netherlands and member of the international ICC CR and Anti-corruption Commission. He was Co-Chair of the ICC Ad hoc task force on Conflicts of Interest and co- author of the ICC Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in Enterprises, and is an independent Integrity and Compliance Consultant, based in the Netherlands. He can be contacted here.