Matty Bowers 2015 Q&A: Conflict of Interest

How would you define the term “conflict of interest” and how might it apply to you while serving on the Board?

A conflict of interest arises when one is involved in a situation where they or someone close to them could personally benefit from a decision. If the person puts their needs before the needs of the organization, they are no longer upholding the duties they swore to follow.

As a Board member, I would of course recuse myself from any situation where I felt the benefit to either me or a committee I was on could impact my impartiality.

Given that some of you intend to keep your other Org positions, how do you intend to deal with conflicts of interest when matters arise which impact your committee?

a. For example, if your committee wants to implement a change which requires Board approval, but is not necessarily in the OTW’s best interests, or would have an impact on another committee, how would you ensure that your contribution to the Board’s decision reflected your position as a Board member and not your personal opinion as a member of the committee?

b. Conversely, if another committee sought Board approval for something that would impact your own committee, how would you ensure that you were giving their arguments a fair hearing?

It would depend on the situation. If needed, I would have no problems recusing myself should I feel I couldn’t make an impartial decision. In both Abuse and Support we often have times when we need to recuse ourselves from tickets because it impacts one of us personally or because it directly impacts someone we know. This is a normal part of committee work, one which I’d have no problem practicing as Board.

A. Neither I nor any committee I work with would deliberately submit a proposal or change that wasn’t in everyone’s best interest. All proposals written by any committee I’m in carefully consider not just our needs, but those of the organization. If it’s decided the project would be helpful to us, but detrimental to the OTW in general, we would discard the proposal.

If by some chance we overlook a reason a project would negatively impact the OTW, it should still be caught before it is submitted for Board approval; all proposals need to be approved by any committee even slightly impacted by the change. At the point any potential problems would be noted and again, the proposal would be discarded. Should it somehow reach Board level, the committee would most likely be horrified they missed something and would withdraw the proposal.

B. Again, this is fairly unlikely to happen with any committee I work with regularly. Most committees do everything in their power to ensure everyone is onboard with any major changes. If a negative issue was pointed out, in general the committee would graciously discard and investigate other options.

I understand this was an issue in the past, and still may be for some committees. With a few exceptions though, these days the OTW chairs tend to be a close-knit bunch who work well together.