Finance Division

Accounting Services

ETHICS

Introduction

Clemson University has established an outstanding reputation for honesty and fairness in conducting its business operations. This reputation, built through the dedication of University employees for more than one hundred years, is a fragile trust and can be maintained only through strict adherence to the highest institutional and individual ethical standards.

Clemson University is obligated to provide employees with a work environment free of all forms of discrimination, harassment, and physical or verbal abuse, and to supply the information and resources, including safe, well-maintained work areas, required for successful job performance. Employees are entitled to complete, fair, and timely performance reviews and job planning sessions. The University should provide access to educational and professional development programs, and encourage all employees to develop the personal and professional skills necessary to enhance job performance and increase opportunities for promotion.

Employees are obligated to perform their duties according to the highest legal and ethical standards. Ethical standards and appropriate disciplinary actions for Clemson University employees are outlined in the State Ethics Act, the ClemsonUniversity Fiscal Policies and Procedures and the ClemsonUniversity Human Resources Policies and Procedures. Employees, however, are frequently forced to make moral and ethical decisions based on their best judgment. These decisions are usually obvious, but situations can occur where personal or job expediency obscures moral and ethical considerations. The following statements will serve as a guideline when ethical questions occur.

Legal Issues

Clemson University employees should follow both the letter and the spirit of the laws and regulations of the State of South Carolina and Clemson University. Federal laws, including restrictions on the use of copyrighted and patented materials, must also be observed. Questions on legal matters should be directed to University Legal Counsel.

Work Environment

Public perception of Clemson University is greatly influenced by the actions of University employees. The conduct of employees on the job must be marked by integrity and fairness in business relations with people both internal and external to the University. Clemson University has great respect for personal privacy. However, employee actions on and off the job may become a legitimate concern of the University if the employee’s performance, the performance of other employees, the life, health, and safety of other employees, or the interests of the University are adversely affected.

Employees are expected to actively participate in creating a work environment free of discrimination or harassment of any kind. The University will not tolerate, under any circumstances, slurs, comments, jokes, or any other conduct contributing to a hostile work environment. Staff and students should not suffer discrimination for race, creed, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, or handicaps unrelated to a person’s ability to perform his or her job responsibilities. Additionally, sexual advances, either physical or verbal, or any other conduct in the workplace which, in the opinion of Clemson officials, creates an intimidating or offensive work environment will not be tolerated. Complaints of any such activity should be directed to the Office of Access and Equity.

Physical and verbal abuse, threats, and the sale, possession and distribution of illegal drugs or controlled substances, except for medical drugs prescribed by a physician, are forbidden. Employees under the influence of such drugs, substances or alcohol are a danger to themselves and other employees.

University employees are expected to perform University-related work while on University time. Employees are expected to work productively and not abuse University time. Abuses of University time include misrepresentation of time worked, overtime hours, sick days, or vacation days. Performance of personal tasks or having employees perform personal tasks or work unrelated to the business of the University is also unacceptable.

University Property

Clemson University expects all employees to protect the University’s assets. These assets include physical property, monetary assets and proprietary information. Employees should guard against the loss theft or misuse of University property, and should report any such incidents to the University Police and their supervisor or other appropriate authority. University policy explicitly forbids the use of equipment or supplies purchased with University funds for personal needs.

University personnel regularly handle large sums of cash and checks. Theft or misuse of these funds is subject to immediate disciplinary action, including possible dismissal and criminal charges. Misrepresentation of travel expenses including reimbursement claims for meals not eaten, miles not driven, or other expenses not actually incurred during official University travel, are also considered misuse of University funds, as is the failure to observe regulations concerning the use of University vehicles.

Conflicts of Interest

State and University policies on conflicts of interest are included in the Clemson University Fiscal Policies and Procedures, the Clemson University Human Resources Policies and Procedures, and the ClemsonUniversity Sponsored Programs Policies. Employees have a responsibility to notify their supervisor if a conflict of interest occurs.

Vendors seeking to do business with the University are entitled to fair and open competition. Employees and their families should not solicit or accept gifts or services which may be construed as influencing future business dealings, nor should employees develop special relationships or give preferential treatment to any vendors.

Empowerment

The finance processes serve Clemson University. Supervisors are expected to create and maintain a service-oriented environment. To provide the best and most responsive service, employees should have the freedom to act decisively in their area of expertise. In such an environment, honest mistakes will sometimes occur. Supervisors should treat errors as learning experiences and be careful not to overreact to errors. Supervisors must also be aware of, and refrain from, placing employees in unethical or illegal situations.

Reporting Fraud and Compliance Issues

Every employee is responsible for reporting cases of theft, fraud, conflict of interest, abuse of assets or property, violations of laws and regulations or concerns about internal controls, auditing and accounting processes. A confidential fraud and compliance hotline is available for reporting these types of issues. Local (656-0741) Toll Free 1-877-503-7283.

Conclusion

Finance staff represents Clemson University in daily contacts with students, parents, vendors, the general public, and government officials. The integrity of the institution is at stake in all of these contacts and in every personnel and procurement decision. It is imperative that all staff conduct their activities with the highest ethical standards to maintain Clemson’s reputation. In questions of ethics, the employee’s conscience should be the first guide. Additional assistance may be obtained by consulting a supervisor. If questions still remain, the “Ethics Test” developed by Kenneth Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale in The Power of Ethical Management listed below should help answer them.

The "Ethics Check" Questions

Is it legal?

Will I be violating either civil law or company policy?

Is it balanced?

Is it fair to all concerned in the short term as well as the long term?

Does it promote win-win relationships?

How will it make me feel about myself?

Will it make me proud?

Would I feel good if my decision was published in a newspaper?

Would I feel good if my family knew about it?