SCORE and SCORE Foundation
Whistle-Blower Code of conduct Policy
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act which was signed into law on July 30, 2002, was designed to add new governance standards for the corporate sector to rebuild public trust in publicly held companies. While the majority of this act deals directly with for-profit organizations, two standards in the act, document destruction and whistle-blower protection, cover non-profit organizations.
In keeping with the policy of maintaining the highest standards of conduct and ethics SCORE and the SCORE Foundation (SCORE or SCORE’s) will investigate any suspected fraudulent or dishonest use or misuse of SCORE’s resources or property by staff, board members, consultants or volunteers. SCORE is committed to maintaining the highest standards of conduct and ethical behavior and promotes a working environment that values respect, fairness and integrity. All staff, board members and volunteers shall act with honesty, integrity and openness in all their dealings as representatives for the organization. Failure to follow these standards will result in disciplinary action including possible termination of employment, dismissal from one’s board or volunteer duties and possible civil or criminal prosecution if warranted.
Staff, board members, consultants and volunteers are encouraged to report suspected fraudulent or dishonest conduct (i.e. to act as “whistle-blower”), pursuant to the procedures set forth below.
A person’s concerns about possible fraudulent or dishonest use or misuse of resources or property should be reported to the Secretary of the SCORE Board of Directors. If for any reason a person finds it difficult to report his or her concerns to the Secretary of the Board the person may report the concerns directly to the Chair of the Board. Alternately, to facilitate reporting of suspected violations where the reporter wishes to remain anonymous, a written statement may be submitted to one of the individuals listed above.
Baseless Allegations: Allegations made with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity. People making such allegations may be subject to disciplinary action by SCORE , and/or legal claims by individuals accused of such conduct.
Fraudulent or Dishonest Conduct: A deliberate act or failure to act with the intention of obtaining an unauthorized benefit. Examples of such conduct include, but are not limited to:
- forgery or alteration of documents;
- unauthorized alteration or manipulation of computer files;
- fraudulent financial reporting;
- pursuit of a benefit or advantage in violation of SCORE’s Conflict of Interest Policy;
- misappropriation or misuse of SCORE’s resources, such as funds, supplies, or other assets;
- authorizing or receiving compensation for goods not received or services not performed; and
- authorizing or receiving compensation for hours not worked
Whistle-Blower: An employee, consultant or volunteer who informs the Secretary or the Chair of the Board about an activity relating to SCORE which that person believes to be fraudulent or dishonest.
Rights and Responsibilities
Reasonable care should be taken in dealing with suspected misconduct to avoid:
- baseless allegations;
- premature notice to persons suspected of misconduct and/or disclosure of suspected misconduct to others not involved with the investigation; and
- violations of a person’s rights under law
Due to the important yet sensitive nature of the suspected violations, effective professional follow-up is critical. Supervisors, while appropriately concerned about “getting to the bottom” of such issues, should not in any circumstances perform any investigative or other follow up steps on their own. Accordingly, a reporting person who becomes aware of suspected misconduct:
- should not contact the person suspected to further investigate the matter or demand restitution.
- should not discuss the case with attorneys, the media or anyone other than the Secretary or the Chair of the Board.
- should not report the case to an authorized law enforcement officer without first discussing the case with the Secretary or the Chair of the Board.
All relevant matters, including suspected but unproved matters, will be reviewed and analyzed, with documentation of the receipt, retention, investigation and treatment of the complaint. Appropriate corrective action will be taken, if necessary, and findings will be communicated back to the reporting person. Investigations may warrant investigation by an independent person such as auditors and/or attorneys.
SCORE will protect whistle-blowers as defined below.
- SCORE will use its best efforts to protect whistle-blowers against retaliation. Whistle-blowing complaints will be handled with sensitivity, discretion and confidentiality to the extent allowed by the circumstances and the law. Generally this means that whistle-blower complaints will only be shared with those who have a need to know so that SCORE can conduct an effective investigation, determine what action to take based on the results of any such investigation, and in appropriate cases, with law enforcement personnel. (Should disciplinary or legal action be taken against a person or persons as a result of a whistle-blower complaint, such persons may also have the right to know the identity of the whistle-blower.)
- Employees, consultants and volunteers of SCORE may not retaliate against a whistle-blower for informing management about an activity which that person believes to be fraudulent or dishonest with the intent or effect of adversely affecting the terms or conditions of the whistle-blower’s employment, including but not limited to, threats of physical harm, loss of job, punitive work assignments, or impact on salary or fees. Whistle-blowers who believe that they have been retaliated against may file a written complaint with the Secretary or the Chair of the Board. Any complaint of retaliation will be promptly investigated and appropriate corrective measures taken if allegations of retaliation are substantiated. This protection from retaliation is not intended to prohibit supervisors from taking action, including disciplinary action, in the usual scope of their duties and based on valid performance-related factors.
- Whistle-blowers must be cautious to avoid baseless allegations (as described earlier in the definitions section of this policy).