The Wildlife Society (TWS) maintains policies and procedures (hereafter referred to as our Code) that represent both the code of ethics and the code of business conduct for directors, officers, volunteers and employees.
TWS requires the highest standards of ethical conduct from each volunteer and staff member as they perform their duties and engage in fulfilling the mission of the Society. The organization requires that every volunteer and staff member exhibit the highest standards of professionalism, honesty, and integrity, and that the activities and services provided by TWS are accomplished in a fair and equitable manner. It is the purpose of this Code to detail the ethical standards under which we agree to operate.
Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying
The policy of TWS is that discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, and bullying will not be tolerated in any form by any director, officer, volunteer, or employee.
Definitions (from AGU Summary on Harassment)
Discrimination means unequal or unfair treatment in professional opportunities, education, benefits, evaluation, and employment (such as hiring, termination, promotion, compensation) as well as retaliation and various types of harassment. Discriminatory practices can be explicit or implicit, intentional, or unconscious.
Harassment is a type of discrimination that consists of a single intense and severe act, or of multiple persistent or pervasive acts, which are unwanted, unwelcome, demeaning, abusive, or offensive. Offensive conduct constitutes harassment when 1) it becomes a condition of an opportunity, education, benefit, evaluation, or employment or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to creates a work or educational environment that most people would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. These acts may include epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping based on gender, race, sexual identity, or other categories, as protected by U.S. federal law. Also included are threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and displays; or circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or a group.
Sexual harassment includes any unwanted and/or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others in the professional environment that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. These actions can include abusive criticism, humiliation, the spreading of rumors, physical and verbal attacks, isolation, undermining, and professional exclusion of individuals through any means.
The TWS Executive Committee will review any issues under the Code involving the Executive Director/CEO, appointed or elected officer, elected representative or volunteer and will report its findings to the Council. The Executive Director will review any issues under the Code involving a staff member and will report the findings to the TWS Council. The Council does not envision that any waivers of the Code will be granted, but should a waiver occur it will also be promptly disclosed to the Council.
The Code consists of the Ethics Policy, the Conflicts of Interest Policy, the Corporate Assets Policy, the Whistleblower Policy, and the section below titled “Procedures and Open Door Communication.”
The policy of TWS is to comply fully with all governmental laws, rules, and regulations applicable to its business. However, the Society’s Ethics Policy does not stop there. Even where the law is permissive, the Society chooses the course of highest integrity.
The Society cares how results are obtained, not just that they are obtained. Directors, officers, and employees should deal fairly with each other and with the Society’s members, suppliers, customers, competitors, and other third parties.
The Society expects compliance with its standard of integrity throughout the organization and will not tolerate employees who achieve results at the cost of violation of law or who deal unscrupulously. The Society’s directors and officers support, and expect the organization’s employees to support, any employee who passes up an opportunity or advantage that would sacrifice ethical standards.
It is the Society’s policy that all transactions will be accurately reflected in its books and records. This, of course, means that falsification of books and records and the creation or maintenance of any off-the-record bank accounts are strictly prohibited. Employees are expected to record all transactions accurately in the organization’s books and records, and to be honest and forthcoming with the Society’s independent auditors.
The Society expects candor from employees at all levels and adherence to its policies and internal controls. One harm which results when employees conceal information from higher management or the auditors is that other employees think they are being given a signal that the organization’s policies and internal controls can be ignored when they are inconvenient. That can result in corruption and demoralization of an organization. The organization’s system of management will not work without honesty, including honest bookkeeping, budget proposals, and economic evaluation of projects.
It is the Society’s policy to make full, fair, accurate, timely, and understandable disclosure in reports and documents that the organization files. All employees are responsible for reporting material information to the Executive Director/CEO, who is responsible for making disclosure decisions.
Conflicts of Interest Policy
It is the policy of TWS that directors, officers, representatives and employees are expected to avoid any actual or apparent conflict between their own personal interests and the interests of the Society. A conflict of interest can arise when a director, officer, or employee participates in decisions, takes actions, or has personal interests that may interfere with his or her objective and quality of work for the organization. For example, directors, officers, and employees are expected to avoid actual or apparent conflict in dealings with members, suppliers, customers, competitors, government agencies, and other third parties. This policy is implemented through the TWS Conflict of Interest Policy and Procedures document.
Corporate Assets Policy
It is the policy of TWS that directors, officers, volunteers and employees are expected to protect the assets of the Society and use them efficiently to advance the interests of the organization. Those assets include tangible assets and intangible assets, such as confidential information of the Society. No director, officer, volunteer or employee should use or disclose at any time during or subsequent to employment or other service to the Society, without proper authority or mandate, confidential information obtained from any source in the course of the Society’s business. Examples of confidential information include nonpublic information about the Society’s sources of revenue, financial forecasts, business strategies, and privileged personnel information.
TWS understands the importance of providing numerous checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power and position at not-for-profit organizations. TWS takes great care in hiring new employees and sincerely hopes that such occurrences will be nonexistent or rare. However, in an effort to strengthen TWS’ internal protections, the Society has established the following policy regarding the reporting of illegal or unethical behavior in the workplace:
TWS employees witnessing illegal or unethical activities at work are strongly encouraged to report such activities to the Executive Director (ED)/CEO. However, in those cases where the employee feels uneasy about approaching the ED/CEO, or if the ED/CEO may be the person implicated in the illegal or unethical activities, then the employee should contact the TWS Past President, who shall, if necessary, report such allegations to the Executive Committee. All communications between employees and the Past President will be held in strict confidence.
Employees are assured that reporting illegal or unethical activities will not compromise their job in any way. However, employees are also cautioned to be honest and forthcoming about their allegations and to provide as much proof and detail in their reports as possible. All individuals are considered innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof is high.
Examples of illegal or unethical behavior include, but are not limited to: embezzlement or misuse of funds or TWS equipment, withholding information from auditors, providing false information to government regulators, stealing from co-workers, age, gender or racial discrimination, illegal drug use, physical assault and sexual harassment.
Procedures and Open Door Communication
TWS encourages employees to ask questions, voice concerns, and make appropriate suggestions regarding the business practices of the organization. Employees are expected to report promptly to management any suspected violations of law, the Society’s policies, and the Society’s internal controls, so that appropriate corrective action may be taken. The Society promptly investigates reports of suspected violations of law, policies, and internal control procedures.
Normally, an employee should discuss such matters with the employee’s immediate supervisor. Each supervisor is expected to be available to subordinates for that purpose. If an employee is dissatisfied following review with his/her immediate supervisor, that employee is encouraged to request further reviews, in the presence of the supervisor or otherwise. Reviews should continue to the level of management appropriate to resolve the issue.
Suspected violations of law or the Society’s policies involving the Executive Director/CEO, an officer, representative, or volunteer, as well as any concern regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters, should be referred directly to the Council through the Past President (Corporate Treasurer), President, or other elected officer, who will initially review the issue and will then refer the matter to the Council. All complaints concerning accounting, internal accounting controls, or auditing matters will be referred to the Finance Subcommittee of the Council.
It is recognized that there may be questions about the application of these policies to specific activities and situations. In cases of doubt, directors, officers, and employees are expected to seek clarification and guidance. In those instances where the organization, after review, approves an activity or situation, the Society is not granting an exception or waiver but is determining that there is no policy violation. If the organization determines that there is or would be a policy violation, appropriate action is taken.