When it comes to managing conflict of interest in your company, there’s no such thing as too many precautions. Written conflict of interest bylaws are an essential part of any company or organization to help with preventing internal and external conflicts of interest from arising. Bylaws that cover conflict of interests will not only help you avoid legal liability in the event of a dispute. They’ll also help keep your employees out of trouble and ensure they aren’t being put into situations that could cause damage to your organization’s reputation or brand if something goes wrong.
If your company doesn’t have conflict of interest bylaws in place, your employees may not know how to handle conflicts that arise. This makes it far more likely that they will respond inappropriately to specific types of conflict of interest. Here are five tips for writing effective conflict of interest bylaws for your organization.
Tip #1: Identify What Your Organization Needs
Before diving headfirst into writing your organization’s conflict of interest bylaws, you must identify what you need them to accomplish. Is it preventing conflicts? Minimizing the risks? Determining how to handle them? This is important because your bylaws should cover specific topics and be tailored to your company’s culture and organizational structure. It’s not enough to just write something down; it needs to be something that solves the problem.
Think about what’s going on in your organization, and write down all of the conflicts of interest that could occur or have occurred. If you’re unsure what issues are at play, get help from stakeholders or someone with relevant expertise. Next, define the needs for each issue: Why is it important to address this issue? What would happen if we didn’t do anything about it? What would happen if we did something about it? How can we prevent these problems from happening in the first place?
Tip #2: Make a Plan
To make sure your conflict of interest bylaws are effective, you’ll want to make a plan of attack for how you will write them. There are several ways to go about this, and much of it will depend on your organization. However, a good idea is to start by identifying the stakeholders and including them in this stage. Make a list of what needs to be done and identify stakeholders interested in contributing to or reviewing your bylaws. It can be helpful to have meetings with these people before you start writing so that they understand what their role will be and can help guide you as needed.
Another important aspect of planning is determining what you’ll need to complete the project. To do this, you will want to determine what, if any, resources will be required. How many hours will it require? Do you need to consult with a legal expert? Doing this will ensure you have everything required when you begin writing and will reduce the roadblocks you encounter while writing.
Tip #3: Train Employees on the New Conflict of Interest Bylaws
Writing your organization’s conflict of interest bylaws is only part of the process. If the bylaws you write are hidden away in a seldom-used employee handbook or tucked away in a filing cabinet, they won’t do much good for your business. After your bylaws are approved, you’ll want to make sure that employees are trained on any updates or changes.
The training should cover the new conflict of interest bylaws and any changes made to old policies. You should also provide some examples of what types of activities could trigger a conflict or perceived conflict. By creating this training plan, you’ll ensure that everyone understands how they can avoid conflicts in the workplace while helping them make informed decisions on their behalf.
Tip #4: Make Them Accessible to Employees
For your COI bylaws to be effective, your employees have to be able to reference them when they have questions. This means that you should make it possible for employees to access them easily regardless of where they are. This is more than just a courtesy—it’s also a necessary safety precaution. If your staff cannot quickly locate the document that spells out what constitutes a conflict of interest at their organization, they may be forced to make decisions without all the facts. An excellent way to do this is to have your policies stored in a cloud-based system that can be accessed from anywhere.
Tip #5: Schedule a Regular Review of Your Bylaws
It is essential to review the bylaws regularly. How often you choose to do it will vary, but, at the very least, you should review them annually and when there are organizational changes. Reviewing your bylaws regularly will help you keep them up-to-date with best practices, and reviewing them after any significant changes to your organization will ensure that all policies are still in line with current needs.
After reviewing your current bylaws and making any necessary changes, it’s important to update employees on what has changed so they can be made aware of any new requirements or restrictions that may impact them. To ensure that all employees have access to updated versions of their conflict of interest policy, we recommend sending out an email notification whenever a change is made or about to be made.
Want Another Tip? Manage Your Conflicts of Interest Process With ComplianceBridge!
We know that managing conflicts of interest is an ongoing process, and we’re here to make it easier for you. ComplianceBridge’s Conflict of Interest (COI) software streamlines the entire process for you. First, get started by creating custom question sets, making your disclosure forms as simple as complex as you need. From there, you have the ability to weigh questions based on importance and add conditional follow-up questions that will only be shown to employees based on how they answered previous questions. This allows you to collect more detailed information concerning COI disclosures and improves your reporting. Auto re-publish dates ensure the COI disclosure happens the same time every year without a hitch, and you can follow results in real-time to see where potential issues may exist.
Don’t make COI a time-consuming process for you and your employees. Request a demo with ComplianceBridge today and find out how easy it can be!