The American Board of Optometry (“ABO”), a 501 (c) (6) Missouri nonprofit organization expects all Directors, officers, staff and volunteers to conduct business in accordance with the letter, spirit, and intent of all applicable laws and to not do anything that is illegal, dishonest, or unethical. This Code of Professional Business Practices & Conduct (“Code”) requires all to observe high standards of professional conduct in performing their duties and any work related to the ABO.
The purposes of this Code are to (1) outline certain basic principles of professional and ethical practices, (2) provide a mechanism to report unprofessional, unethical or illegal conduct, and (3) help to foster a culture of honesty and accountability. For purposes of this Policy, references to employees is intended to include those persons who are employed by other employers but are also leased or seconded to, or shared with, the ABO, but only to the extent such persons are engaged in any activities or affairs on behalf of the ABO.
- Compliance with laws, rules and regulations – Obeying all applicable laws, both in letter and spirit, is the foundation on which the ABO’s professional and ethical standards are built. No one acting for or on behalf of the ABO should take any action known or that reasonably should be known to violate any applicable laws, rules or regulations.
- Conflicts of Interest – A “Conflict of Interest” exists when, in the course of employment or work for the ABO, judgment and discretion are or may be influenced by considerations of personal gain for oneself, a family member, friend or third party. All decisions for the ABO should reflect the best independent judgment and discretion possible, uninfluenced by any considerations other than what is honestly believed to be in the ethical best interest of the ABO. All persons acting for or on behalf of the ABO must conduct themselves in an ethical manner, and avoid any direct or indirect Conflict of Interest. It is not possible to address every potential Conflict of Interest situation. These Conflicts of Interest provisions are in addition to the ABO’s Conflicts of Interest Policy.
- External opportunities – All persons acting for or on behalf of the ABO are prohibited from taking, for their own personal benefit, any opportunity that is discovered through employment or association with ABO. No person acting for or on behalf of the ABO may use any ABO property, information, or position for improper personal gain. Those acting for or on behalf of the ABO owe a duty to the ABO to advance its legitimate interests when an opportunity to do so arises.
- Gifts and entertainment – The purpose of business entertainment and gifts in a commercial setting is to create goodwill and sound working relationships, not to gain an unfair advantage. No gift or entertainment should ever be offered, given or provided unless it (1) is not a cash or cash equivalent gift, (2) is nominal in value, (3) is consistent with customary business practices, (4) cannot be construed as a bribe or payoff, or reasonably perceived as a response to past, current, or future favors, and (5) is not in violation of any policy regarding gifts and entertainment of the organization or business with which the recipient is associated.
The ABO also limits the acceptance of gifts and entertainment by anyone acting for or on behalf of the ABO from anyone having or seeking a business relationship with the ABO. Non-cash gifts generally may be accepted if they are occasional and have a value of $50.00 or less.
Those acting for or on behalf of the ABO may not accept loans from a member or supplier (other than from a bank at market interest rate and market terms), or purchase for personal use or advantage any item from a member, supplier or competitor at terms that are more favorable than the terms offered to the general public or other ABO employees or volunteers. Participating in business-related functions, such as lunches or dinners, is a normal and permissible business practice. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that such functions are necessary and that their value and frequency are not excessive.
- Disclosure – If it is believed that there is a conflict or potential Conflict of Interest, the situation should be reported immediately to the ABO’s Chair of the Board. (See Conflict of Interest Policy.)
- Record keeping, financial controls and accounting practices – ABO requires honest, accurate and timely recording and reporting of information in order to make responsible business decisions.
All expense accounts must be documented and recorded in a timely and accurate manner. If unsure of whether a certain expense is legitimate, ask ABO’s Chair of the Board or Executive Director. All of ABO’s books, records, accounts, and financial statements must be maintained in reasonable detail, must accurately reflect the ABO’s transactions, must be promptly disclosed in accordance with any applicable laws and regulations, and must conform to applicable legal requirements and the ABO’s system of internal controls. From time to time business records and communications may, for legitimate reasons, become public. Avoid exaggeration, derogatory remarks, guesswork, or insulting characterizations of people and companies. This applies equally to e-mail, voice mail, internal memos, and formal reports. Records must be retained or destroyed according to the ABO’s Records Retention Policy.
- Fraudulent or deceptive practices – Anyone acting for or on behalf of the ABO must not participate in any fraudulent or deceptive activity involving the ABO, its members, suppliers, contractors, employees, agents or anyone else with whom the ABO associates or does business.
- Misuse of confidential information – All persons acting for or on behalf of the ABO must maintain the confidentiality of information entrusted to them by the ABO or its representatives or suppliers. Confidential information includes all non-public information about the ABO, its representatives and suppliers. The obligation to preserve the confidentiality of such information continues even after employment or association with the ABO ends.
- Public statements – In writing an article or making a statement or speech, anyone associated with the ABO should avoid creating the impression that a position or statement on a subject is the policy of the ABO or an ABO entity, when that position in fact has not been adopted as ABO policy by the ABO Board. An ABO volunteer or staff person should be careful to distinguish between ABO policy and personal views. In some such cases, the individual who authored the article, statement or speech will be identified in the publication, document or program as an ABO representative. Where necessary, or where it would be a prudent safeguard to prevent any confusion or misunderstanding, the article, statement or speech must include the following disclaimer: “The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Board of Optometry.”
- Amendment – The ABO reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to amend or restate this Policy at any time.