Today’s article on Adelaide Now about Equestrian SA (see here) again raises the issue of conflicts of interest.According to the article,  an Equestrian SA Board director “took charge” of the recruitment process for the appointment of the Executive Officer – and ultimately, recommended the appointment of her friend.Our fiduciary duty as a director is of the highest. We are obligated to act in good faith, for a proper purpose and to avoid conflicts of interest.Clearly, to sit on a recruitment selection panel and have a friend apply for the position in question is a conflict of interest. Is declaring this conflict to the Board enough? Does it absolve the conflict?I would suggest that this is a conflict that is 100% clear and cannot be resolved. I don’t believe that declaring the conflict went far enough, particularly when it is being reported that there was at least one other member of the selection panel who was unaware of the conflict.

There is no place for the appointment of friends on either Boards or executive positions in the world of good governance. Whilst they may be the right candidate, it is the responsibility and onus of the Director to remove themselves from the decision making process. The fact that this still occurs is unbelievable.

To say that there wasn’t enough HR capacity to enable independent assessment to take place is hard to accept. There are many organisations in this State that could take on such a role. Yes, there may be an additional cost but what price do you put on clear and transparent good governance?

The reason why our fiduciary duties are so important is to maintain transparency, act as custodians for the next generation, and ensure there is no place for corruption. At the risk of getting on my high horse, to mess with this can lead to a slippery slope…