Operational Ethics Policy
This Operational Ethics Policy addresses conflicts of interest and business ethics but does not include the other ethical values and policies of the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
- Each person who is a director (Synod Council member), officer, committee member or employee (all referred to below as “Synod Representative”) of the Greater Milwaukee Synod shall exercise good faith and best efforts in the performance of his or her duties to the synod and all entities affiliated with the synod. In all dealings with and on behalf of the synod, or any affiliated entity, these Synod Representatives shall be held to a standard of loyalty and honest and fair dealing with the synod and its affiliated entities.
- No Synod Representative shall use his or her position, or knowledge gained therefrom, so as to create a conflict, or the appearance of a conflict, between the interests of the synod or any affiliated entity and the other interests of such Synod Representative. In all matters affecting the synod or any affiliated entity, no Synod Representative shall take any position or engage in any act that could adversely affect the synod or any affiliated entity.
- No Synod Representative shall accept any material compensation, gift, or other favor that could influence or appear to influence such person’s actions affecting the synod or any affiliated entity.1 Each Synod Representative should promptly disclose to the bishop, an officer of the synod, or a committee chair (and as appropriate to the board or committee) any gift, employment, activity, investment, or other interest that might compete or conflict, or appear to compete or conflict, with the interests of the synod or any affiliated entity. At the discretion of an officer or committee chair, the matter may be referred to the Synod Council or Executive Committee. (Occasional de minimis gifts of less than $75.00 value, such as flowers or foodstuffs, are exempt from this rule. Gifts that primarily benefit the synod and not an individual, such as gifts of hospitality that may be given to the synod by hotels in relation to official synod business, are exempt from this rule. Persons also may participate in reasonable, normal relationship-building activities, such as meals or entertainment events.)
- No Synod Representative should vote, or be counted in determining the quorum for any vote, on any transaction between the synod and any other corporation, firm, association, or other entity in which such Synod Representative has a direct or indirect substantial financial interest. Any such duality of interest should be disclosed by the Synod Representative to the other appropriate Synod Representatives as applicable and made a matter of record. In addition to refraining from voting, no Synod Representative should participate in the deliberations or use personal influence in the matter. Any transaction that involves a Synod Representative should be at least as fair and reasonable to the synod as a transaction involving independent parties.
- For the purposes of Section 4, a Synod Representative is deemed to have a direct or indirect substantial financial interest in any corporation, firm, association, or other entity in which such person, or such person’s parents, spouse, or all descendants of either of such person’s parents or such person’s spouse have an aggregate, beneficial, equity interest of one percent or more.
- If a question exists as to the substantiality or significance of a financial interest or conflict and the appropriate action by the Synod Representative in light of the interest or conflict, the Synod Representative should seek advice from members of the Synod Council Executive Committee.
- After adoption, and then on an annual basis, the secretary, or other person designated by the Synod Council, shall send a copy of this policy to each director, officer, committee member and employee of the synod. All new Synod Representatives should be given a copy of the policy. Such delivery may be electronic. The synod also shall work to make this policy accessible through other methods, such as on the synod website.
- It shall be the duty of each Synod Representative to inform the Synod Council or other appropriate person or body of any conflicts of interest in a timely fashion. No Synod Representative, in his or her capacity as such, shall act as, or represent that he or she is, an agent of the synod or any affiliated entity, unless specifically authorized to do so by the Synod Council.
- A Synod Representative has a duty to disclose all breaches of this policy. There will be no retaliation for good faith complaints, reports, or participation in an investigation.
- Violation of the policy may result in termination from the synod position, as appropriate.
Adopted by Greater Milwaukee Synod Council on November 17, 2011 (SC11.11.10.) See also Greater Milwaukee Synod Continuing Resolution S10.05.A11.
Anti-Fraud Policy Relating to Synod Matters
Hebrews 13:18b “We are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things”.
Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
It is the Greater Milwaukee Synod’s policy to prevent all fraud and improper financial activities, to seek to discover any fraud or improper activities, and to deal appropriately when such activities come to light. The Synod is responsible for implementing internal controls and monitoring activities designed to prevent and detect misappropriation of Greater Milwaukee Synod’s assets and intentional material misrepresentation of the Synod’s financial or other actions constituting fraud. It is the Synod’s responsibility to communicate this policy to all synod council members, employees and volunteers and their responsibility to comply with this policy.
Actions Constituting Fraud
Actions of fraud include but are not limited to:
- Theft of cash, securities, merchandise, equipment, supplies or other assets.
- Unauthorized use of Greater Milwaukee Synod employees, property, credit cards, cell phones or other resources.
- Submission of personal or fictitious employee expenses for reimbursement or fictitious or inflated vendor invoices or payroll records for payment.
- Receiving kickbacks or other unauthorized personal benefits from vendors or others.
- Forgery or fraudulent alteration of any check, bank draft, statement, billing, record, form, report, return or other financial document.
- Intentional material misclassification or misrepresentation of revenues, expenses, costs or other data in financial statements, reports, or other communications.
- Intentional failure to disclose material related party transactions, noncompliance with lender requirements or donor/grantor restrictions or other required disclosure matters.
- Intentional improper use or disclosure of confidential donor, client/customer, employee or Greater Milwaukee Synod proprietary information.
- Any other illegal or unethical activity.
The policy applies to fraud or suspected fraud by synod council members, employees, volunteers, and others doing business with the Greater Milwaukee Synod. Greater Milwaukee Synod – ELCA Anti-Fraud Policy Relating to Synod Matters
Fraud and Financial Misconduct Prevention
The Greater Milwaukee Synod is committed to follow best practices including a commitment to educating the staff to prevent fraud and financial misconduct and having an outside audit conducted by a CPA firm to aid in the disclosure of such fraud and financial misconduct.
Reporting Responsibilities and Safeguards
- It is the responsibility of every Synod Council member, employee or volunteer to report, preferably in writing, discovered or suspected unethical or fraudulent activity immediately to the Bishop and the Vice-President of the Synod Council. If the Bishop is the suspect, this should be reported to the Vice-President and another officer of the Synod Council. If the Vice- President is the suspect, then this should be reported to the Bishop and another officer of the Synod Council. If there is some reason such reporting is inadvisable, then the report should be brought to another synod officer(s).
- The officer who receives a report should report back to the person making the report regarding the results/actions taken.
- No reporting party who in good faith reports such a matter will suffer harassment, retaliation or other adverse consequences. Any synod council member or employee who harasses or retaliates against the party who reported such a matter in good faith is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment. Additionally, no synod council member, employee or volunteer will be adversely affected because they refuse to carry out a directive which constitutes fraud or is a violation of state or federal law.
- Any allegation that proves to have been made maliciously or knowingly to be false will be viewed as a serious disciplinary offense.
- Anonymous allegations will be investigated, but consideration will be given to seriousness of the issue, its credibility and the likelihood of confirming the allegation from other reliable sources.
- All reports will be treated with confidentiality. In the case of allegations made on a requested confidential basis by the reporting person, every effort will be made to keep the identity of the reporting party secret, consistent with the need to conduct an adequate and fair investigation.
- Allegations will not be discussed with anyone other than those who have a legitimate need to know. It is important to protect the rights of the persons accused, to avoid damaging their reputation should they be found innocent and to protect the Greater Milwaukee Synod from potential liability. Greater Milwaukee Synod – ELCA Anti-Fraud Policy Relating to Synod Matters
- The Bishop, Vice-President of the Synod Council, or their delegate will investigate all allegations on a timely basis including the involvement of law enforcement when necessary. The investigation may include but is not limited to examining, copying and/or removing all or a portion of the contents of files, desks, cabinets, computer hard drives and other facilities of the organization without prior knowledge or consent of any individual who may use or have custody of such items or facilities when it is within the scope of the investigation.
- The reporting party must not attempt to personally conduct investigations, interviews or interrogations related to the alleged fraudulent activity.
Employees who have committed fraud will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. There will be consultation with the Synod Council before an action is taken.
Approved May 5, 2012 (Synod Council Action SC 12.05.10.)