In Summary
  • Conflict of interest is detrimental to both the organisation and individuals who engage in it. The danger to the organisation is that it may not get value for money.
  • The behaviour of officers or board members who participate in conflict of interest make them lose respect and trust in other people inside and outside the organisation.

I sit on two governing boards where meetings start by the chairman asking members to declare any conflict of interest related to the agenda. There is another organisation I know which has shelved the discussion of its conflict of interest policy for now eight years.

Conflict of interest is a rampant problem in Ugandan organisations. There is potential for conflict of interest when a person who is responsible for promoting the best interests of the organisation has a competing personal interest.\

One Chief Executive Officer (CEO) fired the tenant who was managing a commercial property owned by the organisation he led and replaced her with his daughter as the new tenant. Another CEO allowed his college going children to hold weekend parties in an apartment owned by the company he was hired to manage.

I know a CEO who hired his brother as a consultant for the organisation he headed. The brother was very sloppy in his work methods and cost the organisation billions of shillings in lost business. I am sure that if the consultant was not related to the CEO, the board would have acted swiftly to ask for cancelation of the contract.

Effect
Conflict of interest is detrimental to both the organisation and individuals who engage in it. The danger to the organisation is that it may not get value for money.

The behaviour of officers or board members who participate in conflict of interest make them lose respect and trust in other people inside and outside the organisation.

At times, engaging in conflict of interest is the beginning of active corruption where relatives and romantic partners get paid for no value given to the organisation.

Managers and board members who are serious about the wellbeing of the organisation they lead pay attention to managing conflict of interest.

The suit you wear as a CEO or director has no value if you soil your fingers with conflict of interest.

James Abola is a business and finance consultant. Email: [email protected]