Conflict of Interest

Overview

This Conflict of Interest (COI) policy ensures our organization conducts all its actions according to the highest ethics and integrity levels and maintains transparency in all activities. All staff (employees, contractors and volunteers) are expected to act with integrity when dealing with government agencies, mission and relief and development organizations, other agencies, sponsors & donors, vendors & suppliers, fellow employees, nationals and the general public.

This policy explains the relevant principles and rules for preventing or managing conflicts of interest and how such principles and rules are to be implemented.

Conflict of Interest (COI) may arise where an employee or any other person covered within the scope of this policy places their personal interests before the interests of the organization and where such personal interests unduly influence judgment, decisions, or actions. A conflict situation could be actual or perceived and may be an event or circumstance when a person does or consciously fails to do an act which allows the person to derive personal gains.


Purpose

The primary purposes of this policy are to;

  • Establish a uniform approach to managing conflicts of interest in the organization.

  • Inform the organization’s employees of their obligation to comply with the requirements of this Policy in order to ensure that all conflicts of interest are managed in the most effective manner possible.


Scope and Persons covered

This policy applies to all management, employees, volunteers, interns and any other person of the organization. In additions such persons may include

• Persons who make purchasing decisions on behalf of the organization.

• Persons who have managerial authority or who might be described as “management personnel” of the organization.

• Persons who serve as key advisors to another person or persons who have managerial authority in the organization.

• Persons who receive compensation based on revenues derived from activities of the organization that they control.

• Persons who have authority to control or determine a significant portion of organizations capital expenditures, operating budget, or employee compensation.

• Persons who own a controlling interest in a corporation, partnership, or trust that contracts with the organization.

This policy takes into account the particular features of the Reaching Sky Foundation’ organization structure, the nature of its services and the level of the risks accepted by the organization in connection with its operations and other transactions.


Key definitions

  • “Conflict Party” means any individual or legal entity involved in a conflict of interest.

  • “Confidential Information” means any information that has either actual or potential commercial value due to its being unknown to third parties, has been made legally unavailable to the general public, and is kept secret by its owner.

  • “Disclose”/”Disclosure” would be disclosure on conflict of interest which has been submitted by the employee in line with this policy

  • Employee(s) would be an Employee (including full time, part time, consultants, casual, off roll, volunteer & interns) of the organization.

  • “Family Members” include an Employee's spouse, partner, child, parent, parent-in-law or sibling

  • “Financial Interest” includes any type of financial transaction including transactions involving cash, securities, loans, forfeiture of debt, non-cash trades or benefits, or ownership interests.

  • “Hobbies”, would include activities done for enjoyment, typically during one's leisure time, not professionally and not for pay

  • “Personal Interest” means, with respect to any employee of the organization, such employees interest arising from his/ her opportunity to obtain any financial or other valuable benefits. whatsoever form himself/ herself or for third parties using his/ her position in the organization

  • “Personal Relationship” refers to a close connection between two people, formed by emotional bonds and interactions and would include romantic / intimate relationships amongst them.

  • Relatives include an Employee’s grandparents, spouse's grandparents, grandchildren, half-sibling, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins.

  • “Third Parties” would include a vendor, supplier, merchant or any other organization / firm direct dealing with the Organization


Principles and Rules

A conflict situation could be actual or perceived and may be an event or circumstance when a person does or consciously fails to do an act which allows the person to derive personal gains. If any of the following principles of the Conflict of Interest mentioned below are applicable to any Employee, then they must disclose such interest:


Outside Employment / Involvement:

Full time employment - an Employee of Reaching Sky Foundation cannot undertake any other employment (full time) of any nature whatsoever.

Part time involvement including any Financial Interest in any other company/ firm/ start up:

Including ownership in form of capital, investments or shares (excluding mutual funds, shares held upto 2% of public listed company);

As a Director/ Promoter;

Consultant/ Advisor; or

In any other capacity which can interfere with work at the Organization, especially if the position is with a Third Party.

As a freelancer for any work, for which employee is getting a financial benefit

Hobbies, if undertaken during working hours and pursued professionally for some financial benefit

Since it is not easy to determine whether outside involvement could conflict with work, before accepting any such offer / engaging otherwise, the Employee must provide disclosure in line with this policy.

Outside interests / Working with Family members or Relatives: Employees are prohibited in taking part in business decisions involving a Third Party:

That employs a Family member or Relative;

Which is owned by the Employee / Employee’s Family member or Relative;

In which the Employee / Employee’s Family member or Relative has Financial Interest.

If the Employee is aware of the potential conflict and is involved in taking a business decision on behalf of the organization with such Third Party, then such Employee should immediately Disclose the conflict and distance themselves from the decision-making process.

Personal relationships: Employee should avoid –

Personal relationships with other Employees and / or vendors / suppliers / merchants where being in that relationship may result in one of the persons receiving or giving an unfair advantage, or preferential treatment to the other;

Participating in or making a procurement decision that could benefit themselves, or someone with whom they have a close Personal Relationship;

New candidates: Hiring, reviewing, or influencing the job evaluation or compensation of a candidate with whom they have a Personal Relationship;

Existing employees: Direct reporting, reviewing work or having influence in the performance evaluation of an Employee with whom they have a Personal Relationship.

Gifts: Employees, consultants or volunteers are not allowed to offer gifts, or receive gifts (including meals / entertainment) from suppliers, merchants or any other Third Party until unless all of the following conditions are fulfilled:

Cash: Gift is not received / given in the form of cash;

Moderate value: Gift received is of estimated value of Rs. 1,000 or equivalent local currency;

Customary and appropriate. Gift is considered a customary and appropriate business gift in the country where it is offered. For eg: gifts received during festivals such as Diwali, Christmas, etc.;

No favoured treatment: The gift is not offered / accepted in expectation of special or favoured treatment;

Legal: Offering or accepting the gift is not in violation of applicable law.

If all the above conditions are met, then the Employee should Disclose in line with this policy prior to giving or accepting such gift.

Obtaining an interest in real estate, securities or other property that Reaching Sky Foundation might consider buying or leasing.

Any other situation: In case a situation arises (not falling in the above) wherein the Employee feels that it may lead to conflict of interest, then the Employee should reach out to HR for clarification and Disclose it appropriately as per this policy. An illustrative list of persons with whom conflict of interest may arise is as under:

Persons or entities from whom Reaching Sky Foundation leases property or equipment.

Persons or entities with whom Reaching Sky Foundation is dealing or planning to deal in connection with the gift, purchase or sale of securities, real estate, or other property.

Other not-for-profit organizations, whether in the capacity of actual or potential donor or actual or potential recipient of a donation or grant; ministry partner or co-laborer, or other capacity.

Donors and others supporting the organization.

Media carrying Reaching Sky Foundation advertising or content.

Governmental and non-governmental agencies, organizations and associations that affect or can affect the operations of Reaching Sky Foundation.

Persons who are in a position to exercise substantial influence over the affairs and actions of Reaching Sky Foundation, or who have been in such a position at any time in the past five years.

Conflicts or potential conflicts may be direct or indirect. Indirect conflicts may arise if any of the following have an interest:

A family member of a director, manager or employee. (Family member is defined broadly, and includes all persons related by whole or half-blood or by marriage, including but not limited to siblings, siblings’ spouses, ancestors, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all their spouses)

An estate or trust of which the director, manager or influential agent, or member of such person’s family is a beneficiary, personal representative, or trustee.

A company of which a member of the family or the director, manager or influential agent is an officer, director, or employee, or in which such person has ownership or other proprietary interest.


Disclosure of Conflict of Interest

  • If any of the aforesaid principles of Conflict of Interest are applicable to any Employee, then they must Disclose such interest.

• Disclosure must take place as soon as the Employee identifies the conflict and, whenever possible, before the Employee engages in the conduct in question;

• Business and relationships are dynamic and when circumstances change, existing disclosures may no longer be accurate or complete. When this happens, the Employee must freshly disclose the conflict of interest;

As a general rule, when in doubt, please check with HR on the applicability of Conflict of Interest.


Review of Disclosures by the HR

  • HR POC shall review submission by the Employee and identify solutions or take corrective action via mutual discussion. Corrective action could be changing the location or team of the Employee, asking Employee to forfeit Financial Interest, etc. These resolution methods are not exclusive and may be added by other relevant approaches depending on the particular situation;

  • Corrective action taken by the HR shall be communicated to the respective manager and business / function head for future reference;

  • The Conflict of Interest which is disclosed by the Employee shall be made available to the reporting manager. It is the responsibility of the manager to view and be aware of the disclosures done by their team members.


Reporting Potential Misconduct

Any Employee who is aware of any potential violation of this policy is required to report suspicion to team@reachingsky.org. Employees who report potential misconduct or who provide information or otherwise assist in any inquiry or investigation of potential misconduct will be protected against retaliation as per the Code of Conduct.


Breach of this Policy

Breach of this policy can lead to disciplinary and other actions up to and including termination of employment. The Fraud Prevention Committee along with HR shall review the disclosures on a periodic basis to make sure corrective actions are being taken according to this policy.


Waivers

Any waiver of this policy requires prior written approval of the Head of Human Resources or the Director.