Business Ethics

Ethical business standards shall govern all procurement transactions.  Infractions of University procurement policy are to be reported to Insurance & Purchasing Services, the department chair, an Officer of the University or the University’s Ethics and Compliance Reporting System (EARS). Disciplinary action for those violating ethical business standards will be taken in accordance with applicable University policy, up to and including the termination of employment.

University personnel shall not solicit a gift or accept a significant gift from any supplier or prospective supplier.  A ‘significant gift’ is defined as any item, service, favor, monies, credits, or discounts not available to others which could influence purchasing decisions.  University personnel may accept trivial items as a matter of courtesy, but may not solicit them.  Acceptance of social invitations to occasional business meals, entertainment, and hospitality will be subject to prudent judgment as to whether the invitation places or appears to place the recipient under any obligation, the appropriateness of the occasion, frequency, and choice of facilities.  Questions about the value of a gift or the appropriateness of an invitation should be referred to your supervisor to ensure compliance with the University’s conflict of interest policy.

The University values its suppliers and assumes that suppliers, in turn, value the University's business.  No token or display of appreciation is necessary or encouraged.  All suppliers are asked to comply with University standards by not offering incentives, gifts, or services to individual personnel.  

It is important to note that all staff members have a fiduciary duty to protect the University’s best interest in all business transactions. In order to successfully discharge this responsibility, inter-action with both current and potential suppliers must be handled in an ethical manner. Sound business ethics include the following elements:

  • Afford equal opportunity to all qualified suppliers in the competition for business.
  • Promote positive supplier relations through professional courtesy and good faith dealing in all phases of the procurement cycle.
  • Respect the confidential nature of the supplier’s proprietary information/property from an ethical standpoint in addition to potential legal ramifications.
  • Enhance the University’s purchasing and overall business reputation by acquiring and maintaining current market knowledge, and adopting and applying sound business practices at a professional level.
  • Avoid any behavior that may be perceived as unethical or compromising in the award of business. Purchasing standards at Brown prohibit the acceptance of gifts, personal discounts, entertainment, favors, personal services, participation in supplier sponsored promotions/contests, or any other activity that could be perceived to compromise the integrity of purchasing at Brown University.
  • Refrain from any private business or professional activity that would create a conflict between personal interests and the interests of Brown University. However, when certain affiliations can not be avoided, the employee shall disclose the relationship to his/her supervisor and recluse himself/herself from the decision making process. (See conflict of interest policy)

Brown University’s reputation for impartiality and objectivity, as well as sound business practice, requires that employees not make decisions for the University if their personal economic interests are directly affected by the outcome.  For further information, reference the University’s Conflict of Interest policy for faculty and staff.