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A "conflict of interest" occurs when an individual's private interest interferes in any way - or even appears to interfere - with the interests of the corporation as a whole. A conflict situation can arise when an employee, officer or director takes actions or has interests that may make it difficult to perform his or her company work objectively and effectively. Conflicts of interest also arise when an employee, officer or director, or a member of his or her family, receives improper personal benefits as a result of his or her position in the company. Loans to, or guarantees of obligations of, such persons are of special concern.
Business decisions and actions must be based on the best interests of the Company. Relationships with prospective or existing suppliers, contractors, customers, competitors or regulators must not affect the Company's independent and sound judgment. Directors, officers and other employees should not have, unless previously disclosed to the Legal Department outside interests which conflict or appear to conflict with the best interests of the Company. Directors, officers and other employees are expected to act solely for the benefit of the Company and not be influenced by a personal interest that may result from other individual or business concerns. Conflicts of interest are to be scrupulously avoided, and if unavoidable, must be disclosed to the Company (whether through disclosure to the Board, in the case of a director or the Chief Executive Officer, or to your supervisor, in any other case) at the earliest opportunity. If you have any uncertainty about whether your actions or relationships present a conflict of interest, contact the Board of Directors, your supervisor or the Legal Department for guidance.
FAMILY MEMBERS AND CLOSE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Conflicts of interest may arise when doing business with or competing with organizations in which employees' family members have an ownership or employment interest. Family members include spouses, parents, children, siblings and in-laws. Employees may not conduct business on behalf of the Company and may not use their influence to get the Company to do business with family members or an organization with which an employee or an employee's family member is associated unless specific written approval has been granted in advance by the officer who leads such employee's team.
Directors, officers and other employees may not seek or accept loans or guarantees of obligations from the Company for themselves or their family members. Furthermore, employees may not seek or accept loans or guarantees of obligations (except from banks), for themselves or their family members, from any individual, organization or business entity doing (or seeking to do) business with the Company. Employees must report to their supervisor promptly all offers of the above type, even when refused.
OWNERSHIP IN OTHER BUSINESSES
Employees may not own, directly or indirectly, a significant financial interest in any business entity that does or seeks to do business with, or is in competition with, the Company unless specific written approval has been granted in advance by the Legal Department. As a guide, "a significant financial interest" is defined as ownership by an employee and/or family members of more than 1% of the outstanding securities/capital value of a corporation or that represents more than 5% of the total assets of the employee and/or family members.
Directors, officers and other employees are prohibited from directly or indirectly buying, or otherwise acquiring rights to any property or materials, when such persons know that the Company may be interested in pursuing such opportunity and the information is not public.
It is Company policy that directors, officers and other employees may not take for themselves personally opportunities that are discovered through the use of Company property, information or position, nor may they use Company property, information, or position for personal gain. Furthermore, directors, officers and other employees should not compete with the Company unless such competition is disclosed to the Legal Department and approved or determined to be material. Employees, officers and directors have a duty to the Company to advance its legitimate interests when the opportunity to do so arises.
OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT, AFFILIATIONS OR ACTIVITIES
An employee's primary employment obligation is to the Company. Any outside activity, such as a second job or self-employment, must be kept completely separate from their activities with the Company. Employees may not use company customers, suppliers, time, name, influence, assets, facilities, materials or services of other employees for outside activities unless specifically authorized by the Company, including in connection with charitable or other volunteer work.
The following activities require prior written approval from the Legal Department:
- Service as a director, trustee or officer of any business, or any charitable, civic, religious, political or educational organization (other than a residential co-operative or condominium board).
- Service as an executor, trustee, guardian or conservator of the estate of any individual, even if family-related. However, being named in a document which has yet to take effect does not require prior approval.
- Having an interest in any enterprise, even if family-related, other than investments made in the employee’s personal brokerage accounts as discussed below.
- Voting on, or participating in, any business matter involving another company in which the employee has a personal interest, including as a share holder. However, an employee may exercise his or her rights as a shareholder of a publicly traded company without prior approval.
- Further, employees may not do nay of the following without first disclosing that fact in writing to their immediate supervisor and to the Legal Department.
- Accept business opportunities, commissions, compensation or other inducements, directly or indirectly, from persons or firms that are customers, vendors or business partners of the Company.
- Acquire Company property or services on terms other than those available to the general public or those specifically identified by the Company.
- Users should draft, send and forward e-mail with the same standards of care and quality as they use for a formal business letter. The Quality of writing in an e-mail message originating from the Company directly reflects on the Company.
- Engage in any conduct with customers, vendors, or any other person or entity with whom t he Company does business or seeks to do business when the conduct might appear to compromise the employee’s judgment or loyalty to the Company.
Additionally, if an employee's family member works for a business that is itself in direct competition with the Company, this circumstance must be disclosed to the Legal Department.
Except with express written consent, employees who take a paid or unpaid leave of absence cannot use the leave for the purpose of obtaining other employment.
GIFTS, GRATUITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT
Employees and their family members must not accept, directly or indirectly, gifts, gratuities or entertainment from persons, firms, or corporations with whom the Company does or might do business that are greater than nominal in value. Any question you may have regarding whether a gift or benefit sought to be bestowed upon you is nominal should be brought to the Legal Department. It is the Company's policy not to offer gifts, gratuities or entertainment to persons, firms or corporations with whom the Company does or might do business, except for modest items and reasonable entertainment. Gifts, gratuities or entertainment that affect or give the appearance that the employee's business judgment could be affected must be avoided and refused. Gifts, gratuities and entertainment that are acceptable are only those that reflect common courtesies and responsible business practice. All gifts, gratuities and entertainment must be properly reported on expense statements.
There are some cases where refusal of a valuable gift would be offensive to the person offering it. This is particularly true when employees are guests in another country, and the gift is something from that country offered as part of a public occasion. In these cases, the employee to whom the gift was offered may accept the gift on behalf of the Company, report it to a supervisor and turn it over to the Company.
The Company, as a responsible corporate citizen, can make donations of money or products to worthy causes, including fundraising campaigns conducted by its customers. To remain an appropriate donation, the contribution should not be connected to any specific customer purchases or purchasing commitments.
Customer requests for donations of significant sums of money should be forwarded to a senior-level manager in your sales organization. Employees are not permitted to make a donation at a customer's request and then seek reimbursement from the Company as a business expense. All corporate donations must be approved and paid by the Company.
Each employee should endeavor to deal fairly with the Company's customers, suppliers, competitors and employees. No employee should take unfair advantage of anyone through manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts, or any other unfair-dealing practice.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH SUPPLIERS OR SERVICE PROVIDERS
from any purchase of goods or services for or from the Company. Employees whose responsibilities include purchasing (be it merchandise, fixtures, services, real estate or other), or who have contact with suppliers or service providers, must not exploit their position for personal gain. Under no circumstances may any employee receive cash or cash equivalents from any supplier, whether directly or indirectly.
It is accepted business practice for vendors to distribute samples to potential purchasers. Company policy is that, to the extent necessary to make a reasoned appraisal of new products, samples of such products may be accepted in small quantities only by employees responsible for procuring or merchandising such products.
CONSILTANTS AND AGENTS
Whenever it becomes necessary to engage the services of an individual or firm to consult for or represent the Company, special care must be taken to ensure that no conflicts of interest exist between the Company and the person or firm to be retained. Employees must also ensure that outside consultants and agents of the Company are reputable and qualified. Agreements with consultants or agents should be in writing.
No employee may indirectly or through an agent, do anything prohibited under the Company's Code. Agents are required to observe the same standards of conduct as Company employees when conducting business for the Company. These individuals should be given a copy of this manual - "Business Ethics and Practices." This requirement should be reflected in the agent's written agreement with the Company.