Feeling Conflicted? Refer to the VCH Conflict of Interest Policy
Our Conflict of Interest policy is of the utmost importance and one that we should all be following. I sat down with Associate Legal Counsel, Sybila Valdivieso to get clarity on what conflicts of interest look like at VCH and what to do if any of us find ourselves in a potential conflict.
Below is an excerpt of my interview with Sybila. Read the full interview here on VCH Connect.
Angie Natingor, VCH Policy Advisor: For those who have not worked with you, can you please explain who you are?
Sybila Valdivieso, VCH Associate Legal Counsel: Sure. My name is Sybila Valdivieso and I work as an in-house lawyer in the Legal and Corporate area at VCH. My practice focuses on administrative law and health law. I also advise on corporate commercial matters and provide general summary advice.
Angie: Tell me about the Conflict of Interest policy.
Sybila: The policy was established to ensure we are dealing properly with conflicts of interest, as this is crucial to maintaining organizational integrity. It is there to assist staff with identifying conflicts of interest and providing a process for managing those conflicts.
Angie: What’s one example of a conflict of interest that you’ve seen here at VCH?
Sybila: One example is a staff member making a referral on behalf of VCH to acquire a good or service from an external business that is related or associated to them. This is a direct conflict of interest where an individual may be using their position at VCH to obtain the business.
Angie: What if a benefit is being provided as a gift?
Sybila: The policy states that a staff member must not accept a gift unless it is under a certain value. The gift should have no more than a nominal value – for example, a box of chocolates – and be accepted where it would be reasonable to receive a gift i.e. a staff member provides an educational lecture on a topic of interest and a gift is provided in return.
Angie: So how would someone know if something might be a conflict of interest? What should they do?
Sybila: Conflicts of interest can sometimes be difficult to describe. In certain circumstances, they involve looking at the larger picture and evaluating a circumstance that may not be clear. The moment you think, “Am I using my position for personal gain?” or “Will this appear like I’m trying to advance my own personal interest?”, review the Conflict of Interest policy. Consider whether the issue is a conflict of interest, and follow the process outlined. The policy, disclosure form and even examples of conflicts are all available on VCH Connect.
Angie: What’s the bottom line when it comes to conflicts?
Sybila: Appearance is as important as reality. This is why disclosing in order to verify if something is a perceived or an actual conflict of interest is so important.
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