20 Examples of Conflict of Interest in the Workplace

Examples of Conflicts of Interest At Work
  • Hiring an unqualified relative to provide services your company needs.
  • Starting a company that provides services similar to your full-time employer.
  • Failing to disclose that you’re related to a job candidate the company is considering hiring.

Understanding Conflicts of Interest: Ethical Issues and Problems

Understanding conflict of interest

Stakeholders, managers, and members of the executive team anticipate a certain level of commitment from new hires when it comes to sticking with the company and acting in its best interests.

An agreement stating that the employee understands the definition of a conflict of interest and agrees to avoid or at least disclose situations that may be construed as a conflict is frequently required by the human resources department. Your employee handbook may even have a whole section on conflicts of interest and what to do if you find yourself in a situation where others might interpret it as a conflict.

Anyone at a company, from entry-level employees to executive team members, may become involved in a conflict of interest. It’s crucial that everyone, especially board members who have specific responsibilities to the organization, put the company’s interests ahead of their own personal gains and vested interests. If they don’t, it might be detrimental to the organization with which they are affiliated.

Depending on how the employee handled the conflict and the possible consequences of having the conflict in the first place, if an employer determines that there is a conflict of interest, the employee may experience a variety of outcomes, from being asked to resolve the conflict to being fired entirely. In order to prevent employees from developing a conflict of interest after their employment has ended, many organizations also have non-compete agreements.

Although discussing conflicts of interest in business settings is common, it also applies to other fields, such as the legal and financial sectors.

What is a conflict of interest?

A conflict of interest arises when a personal interest you have could be in conflict with the obligations you have to uphold as a representative of another person or organization, such as your employer. One party may doubt the motives of another party due to a conflict of interest.

It may also raise concerns about your capacity to make dispassionate judgments, ideas, and decisions. You might have a conflict of interest at work that prompts your boss to inquire about your motives and possibly take further action to address a current or potential problem.

Some types of conflicts of interest include:


Nepotism is the practice of hiring, promoting, or otherwise giving a family member or close friend preferential treatment at work. Because the family member or friend may receive benefits at work that they don’t necessarily qualify for, nepotism creates a conflict of interest. Employees and managers can disclose the relationship and decide not to be involved in hiring or promoting for that person or role in order to prevent this from happening.


Self-dealing occurs when a person in a financial position at a company puts their own interests ahead of the company’s goals by using their access to funds or knowledge of the company’s finances. Individuals can decide to act impartially and without the benefit of their knowledge to avoid this conflict of interest.

Gift issuance

Another conflict of interest is gift issuance, which happens when an employee of a company accepts gifts from clients, suppliers, or other people with whom they do business. Even though it might be a harmless exchange, many businesses have policies that forbid it, so there is no doubt about how professional the relationship is. It’s best to thank the vendor but decline the gift if a vendor or supplier offers it because doing so will only create a conflict of interest.

Insider trading

Insider trading is when someone uses their knowledge of confidential information to benefit themselves or others they know. In the financial sector, conflicts like this one are frequent. A person can avoid insider trading by continuing to behave morally and impartially or by leaving the position if they feel too strongly tempted to act improperly.

20 conflict of interest examples

Even though conflicts of interest can arise at any workplace, there are frequently other factors that a person can take into account to avoid getting involved in a conflict. To understand what an employer might deem a conflict in the workplace, take into account the following examples of conflicts of interest:

Strategies for preventing a conflict of interest at work

You might engage in a conflict of interest without realizing it because it’s not always simple to spot one. It’s critical to comprehend what a conflict is and make an effort to avoid it. Take into account the following advice and techniques to avoid conflicts of interest at work:

Review the employee handbook

A section of the employee handbook is frequently devoted to explaining what a conflict of interest is for the company, how to avoid them, and what happens if you knowingly engage in one. Additionally, a company’s code of conduct or a non-disclosure agreement might contain this information.

Ask your manager or human resources representative first if you’re unsure whether your employer will view a decision or action you want to take in the workplace as a conflict.

Attend business ethics training

If your company provides business ethics training, think about enrolling. This instruction may increase your understanding of workplace conflicts of interest. More examples of situations that can help you understand what constitutes a conflict of interest and, more importantly, what to do about your situation if you have a conflict of interest, may be discussed.

Report conflicts of interest

Consider taking the necessary actions as outlined in your employee handbook if you are aware that a manager or coworker is acting in a conflict of interest. This might entail approaching the person to discourage the behavior or alert them to the conflict of interest in their actions.

Otherwise, most companies request that you alert human resources to any dubious activities so that they can look into them. By doing this, you’re abiding by the company’s code of conduct and perhaps averting future office disputes.


Disclosure of your relationships and potential conflicts with management or human resources is one of the best ways to prevent conflicts of interest. They ought to be able to advise you on what you can do or ought to be doing to avoid conflicts.


What is considered a conflict of interest?

A conflict of interest arises when a person’s personal interests, such as those related to their family, friends, finances, or social standing, could impair their judgment, choices, or actions in the workplace. Conflicts of interest are regulated by government organizations because they are taken seriously.

What is a conflict of interest at work?

5 Workplace Conflict Examples – And How to Handle Them
  • An Employee Believes They Have Experienced Discrimination or Sexual Harassment.
  • One Employee Has Been Accused of Harassing or Discriminating Another.
  • Poor Communication Resulted in a Mistake.
  • Different Personalities or Work Styles Are Clashing.

What is the most common form of a conflict of interest?

When a staff member engages in an activity or relationship that benefits them rather than their employer, it is said that they are in a conflict of interest. In other words, the interests of each party’s personal gain conflict with one another.

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