Conflicts of interest
As a science and research organisation, objectivity and even-handedness is vital to our business. It is essential that we recognise and carefully manage potential or perceived conflicts of interests in order to preserve objectivity and, in turn, our reputation.
Since even the perception of a conflict of interest can be harmful to our business, we must always be vigilant and proactive in trying to identify such situations before they arise.
When does a conflict of interest occur?
A potential conflict of interest exists when a person’s other interests might unduly and significantly affect that person’s professional actions or decisions.
The effect on the person’s actions or decisions do not need to actually materialise for a conflict of interest to arise. A conflict may arise if it is reasonable to believe that the individual’s others interests would affect or be perceived to affect their impartiality.
Potential conflicts of interest situations include:
- Having a direct or indirect personal financial or other interest in a business transaction that may be prejudicial to the interests of the company.
- Diverting business opportunities from BRE to yourself or a related third party.
- Working on a proposal or bid where a family member or close friend is employed in a decision-making position on behalf of the potential customer.
- Providing two types of services to the same customer when one of these is an assurance service – for example, providing consultancy to a company on how to improve its environmental performance, and then certifying the same company’s environmental performance.
Q: BRE is appointed to investigate a fire in a building in which there are BRE Global-approved fire products. As a member of the investigation team you are unsure whether it is appropriate for BRE to conduct the investigation.
What do you do?
A: As a general rule, no one involved in the certification of products can be involved in consultancy activities related to the same products for at least 2 years after stopping work in the certification business. A perceived conflict of interest may be just as much of a problem as an actual one, so you must disclose to your Line Manager any conflicts of interest, whether it is realised, potential or perceived.