Conflicts of Interest - What they are and what to do about them

Our mission as the USBG - uniting the hospitality community to advance professional bartending - is aspirationally inclusive of all members of the hospitality community. If you want to work toward helping the Guild achieve this mission, you are welcome here!

One of our organization’s values is integrity. Now, integrity can mean a lot of things to different people, but we’d like to talk about integrity in terms of honesty and strong principles.

Every non-profit board, including USBG Chapter leaders, are entrusted with the care and nurturing of their organizations. Boards do this by recruiting resources like member dues, donations, sponsorships, and volunteer hours, and by directing those resources to provide opportunities and experiences for their constituencies. Every nonprofit Board member in the US, no matter how large or small, has a legal duty of care, loyalty, and obedience to their organization.

Like most other non-profits, the Guild adopted a Conflict of Interest Policy, which you can see by clicking this link.

It’s pretty long, but the gist is - share the work and responsibilities going on in your life that create a potential for self-dealing, and make sure you aren’t involved in making decisions that could benefit you personally. And it makes sense in terms of our value of integrity, too! It would be dishonest to participate in a decision that would allow chapter resources to personally benefit you or allow your fellow leaders to make a decision without full information. One of the other important points to find in the COI policy is that if the decision is in the best interest of the Guild, it may very well be okay! But conflicted people, people with a personal interest in a decision, will have a more difficult time to find the balance of benefit to the Guild vs. benefit to themselves than disinterested people.  

Board members and chapter officers have to fill out the Conflict of Interest Questionnaire every year, AND they have to talk about their potential conflicts, so that they can make sure that potentially conflicted board members sit out of decisions that may benefit them. We also have a brief conflict of interest training that all chapter officers review each year. You can see the content of this training by clicking this link.

It's important to note that hosting events at a chapter officer's home bar is not inherently a conflict of interest as long as the Guild is getting a fair deal, and other member venues are also invited to host events. In fact, most of our chapters benefit greatly from these relationships!

In the USBG, we are so lucky to have an incredibly engaged membership, as well as the support of some incredible sponsors. And because of all this support, many of our chapters have the opportunity to develop some pretty incredible experiences and opportunities for members.

Besides those member opportunities, there are also opportunities available for those that step up into leadership positions. There is no inherent conflict with a chapter leader accepting an offer of a development experience directed to chapter leaders - though those opportunities will be carefully vetted, discussed and approved by the full chapter Board, so as to remain in compliance with the Guild’s conflict of interest policy. That said, chapter officers also have an obligation to put the chapter’s interests ahead of their own and to make sure that all chapter members have access to opportunities as they arise for the chapter and not call “dibs” on an opportunity just because they heard about it first.  

So besides staying engaged, it is the USBG Member’s responsibility to advance leaders who are going to put the interests of the chapter ahead of their own personal interests.

If you are interested in your own leadership journey, consider reading the book: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek (link).


And don’t forget, you can reach us on the General Discussion and Ask the Executive Director forums.


See you there!

Pam & Aaron

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