Glossary of compliance-related terms

Adapted from and used with permission of the Ethics Resource Center, 1747 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC, 20006 ( October 2006

Taking responsibility for one's actions.
Something that is given or offered to a person or organization to encourage that person/organization to take an action of benefit to the giver
Code of conduct or code of ethics.
A central guide and reference for users in support of day-to-day decision making. It is meant to clarify an organization's mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct. As a reference, it can be used to locate relevant documents, services and other resources related to ethics within the organization.
Code of conduct
A listing of required behaviors that if violated might result in disciplinary action. In practice, used interchangeably with Code of Ethics.
Code of ethics
A document that conveys organizational values, a commitment to standards, and a set of ideals. In practice, used interchangeably with Code of Conduct.
In Section 406(c), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act defines "code of ethics" as such standards as are reasonably necessary to promote (1) honest and ethical conduct, including the ethical handling of actual or apparent conflicts of interest between personal and professional relationships; (2) full, fair, accurate, timely, and understandable disclosure in the periodic reports required to be filed by the issuer; and (3) compliance with applicable governmental rules and regulations.
Community property
Everything that a husband and wife or registered domestic partners own together. In most cases this includes 1) money or benefits like pensions and stock options that you now have which either of you earned during the time you were living together as husband and wife or a registered domestic partners; and 2) anything either of you bought with money earned during that period.
Conforming or adapting one's actions to rules.
Conflict of commitment
A situation in which an employee's outside interests interfere with his or her duties to the University.
Conflict of interest
A conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Conflict of time
A situation in which an employee does not devote the amount of time to his or her job as is required by the job duties.
Ethical dilemmas
Situations that require ethical judgment calls. Often, there is more than one right answer and no win-win solution in which we get everything we want.
1. The decisions, choices, and actions (behaviors) we make that reflect and enact our values.
2. The study of what we understand to be good and right behavior and how people make those judgments. (From "What is the Difference Between Ethics, Morals and Values?", Frank Navran).
3. A set of standards of conduct that guide decisions and actions based on duties derived from core values. (From "The Ethics of Non-profit Management," Stephen D. Potts).
Ethical decision-making
Altruistic considerations: What impact will this action or decision have on others or my relationship with them?
Idealistic considerations: What is the right thing to do - as defined by the values and principles, which apply to this situation?
Individualistic considerations: What will happen to me as a consequence of this action or decision?
Pragmatic considerations: What are the business consequences of this action or decision?
To intentionally lie or cheat to get something you aren't entitled to.
The act, process or power of exercising authority or control in an organizational setting.
Gray areas
Situations in which it is not clear to an individual how to respond to an ethical dilemma. Sometimes, the individual may not be familiar with a guideline, or the guidelines may be vague and subject to interpretation. Guidelines are often written to provide managers with as much latitude as appropriate, and this may create gray areas.
In the most general usage, freedom to act without control or influence from others, to be free to make decisions and act without external constraint. In the business world, independence has come to have a specialized meaning. It is most commonly understood to mean freedom from conflicting interests - the specialized case of having the ability to make a decision or act in ways which are free from conflict between one's personal interests and the interests of the party on whose behalf we are making the decision. (From "No Virginia, There Is No Such Thing as Independence", Frank Navran).
Making choices that are consistent with each other and with the stated and operative values one espouses. Striving for ethical congruence in one's decisions.
Values that we attribute to a system of beliefs that help the individual define right versus wrong, good versus bad. These typically get their authority from something outside the individual—a higher being or higher authority (e.g. government, society). Moral concepts, judgments and practices may vary from one society to another.
1. Sharing information and acting in an open manner.
2. A principle that allows those affected by administrative decisions, business transactions or charitable work to know not only the basic facts and figures but also the mechanisms and processes. It is the duty of civil servants, managers and trustees to act visibly, predictably and understandably. (From the Transparency International website).
The core beliefs we hold regarding what is right and fair in terms of our actions and our interactions with others. Another way to characterize values is that they are what an individual believes to be of worth and importance to their life (valuable). (From "What is the Difference Between Ethics, Morals and Values?", Frank Navran).
Values-centered code of ethics
Offers a set of ethical ideals, such as integrity, trust-worthiness and responsibility, which companies want employees to adopt in their work practices.
A person or entity making a protected disclosure is commonly referred to as a whistleblower. Whistleblowers may be University employees (academic or staff), applicants for employment, students, patients, vendors, contractors or the general public. The whistleblower’s role is as a reporting party. They are not investigators or finders of fact, nor do they determine the appropriate corrective or remedial action that may be warranted.