Integrity

Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Scenario 2 - A Display of appreciation

John works in procurement dealing with a large number of suppliers and potential suppliers to his agency. John played a role in the selection of Acme Electrics as suppliers of materials for a particular project. Not long after, John receives an invitation from Martin of Acme to join him in their corporate box to enjoy dinner and a finals football match. “It’s just to show our appreciation”, says Martin, “and it’s a display of good will toward our customers. Now that we’re going to do business together, we think it’s a nice thing that we get to know each other a little better; and we’ll all enjoy the match.”

What should John do?

  1. Accept the invitation.  It’s harmless, and Martin could be right that getting to know each other better will be an aid to doing better business.
  2. It is a bit difficult, in that this is a significant gift that is being offered by a supplier.  However, if John enters the gift on the gift register, declaring where it came from, its worth, and when it was given and accepted, then he may accept the gift – and he probably should accept it, as it will be good for agency-supplier relations.
  3. Decline the invitation, make clear to Martin that this is inappropriate and that John will now be obliged to report this event to his manager, and enter a formal complaint against Acme.
  4. Decline the invitation.  John need not make a big deal of declining, but can politely explain that the acceptance of such gifts is regarded by his agency as inappropriate


About the possible answers:

Re: a. 

No; John should not accept the invitation.  There are two concerns:  (1) that a sizeable gift itself can affect one’s judgment, and (2) that the establishment of special relationships between the agency and a supplier is itself inappropriate.  In any case, whether or not there is an effect on John’s judgment or a special relationship is established, the appearance of such things, or the possibility of the occurrence of such things, is very undesirable.

Re: b. 

No; John should not accept the invitation.  There are two concerns:  (1) that a sizeable gift itself can affect one’s judgment, and (2) that the establishment of special relationships between the agency and a supplier is itself inappropriate.  In any case, whether or not there is an effect on John’s judgment or a special relationship is established, the appearance of such things, or the possibility of the occurrence of such things, is very undesirable.  Entering an item on the gift register does not eliminate the problem.

Re: c. 

Although John should decline the invitation, there is no reason – certainly no requirement – to make a big deal of the gift having been offered.  However, the gift should be declined for two reasons:  (1) a sizeable gift itself can affect one’s judgment, whether or not this was an intention of the gift giver, and (2) the establishment of special relationships between the agency and a supplier is itself inappropriate.  In any case, whether or not there is an effect on John’s judgment or a special relationship is established, the appearance of such things, or the possibility of the occurrence of such things, is very undesirable.

Re: d. 

THE BEST ANSWER FOR YOUR WORKPLACE?

The invitation should be declined.  There are two concerns:  (1) that a sizeable gift itself can affect one’s judgment, and (2) that the establishment of special relationships between the agency and a supplier is itself inappropriate.  In any case, whether or not there is an effect on John’s judgment or a special relationship is established, the appearance of such things, or the possibility of the occurrence of such things is very undesirable.  And for these reasons, John should not accept the invitation.  This can be explained to the supplier in a polite and low-key way.  After all, the offer might well have been (and probably was) innocent, but must nevertheless be declined.



See:

Your agency’s policy with respect to acceptance of gifts.

Government Sector Employment Act 2013

Ethical Framework

Integrity

(a) Consider people equally without prejudice or favour.

(b) Act professionally with honesty, consistency and impartiality.

(d) Place the public interest over personal interest.

Accountability

(c) Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny