​The James Beard Foundation Employee Code of Conduct and Ethics

The James Beard Foundation’s policy is to operate within the letter and spirit of all applicable laws and regulations.

All trustees, officers, directors, and employees are required to comply with the Foundation's strict Conflict of Interest Policy regarding gifts and awards.

Trustees and staff are required to read the Conflict of Interest Policy and respond to the Conflict of Interest Questionnaire below. Trustees' answers are available here and staff answers are on file and available upon request.

1. I have read and understand the James Beard Foundation's Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Confidentiality. I have also reviewed the James Beard Foundation Award categories.

2. During the past two years I have not engaged in any transaction with the Foundation (other than donations of my time, money and goods and services) and am not contemplating entering into any such transaction.

3. During the past two years I have not solicited any gift or gratuity from any supplier to or sponsor of the Foundation, any person contracting or seeking to contract with the Foundation or any potential recipient of a James Beard Foundation Award.

4. I understand that I am not eligible to receive a James Beard Foundation Award.

5. Except as set forth below, no member of my immediate family, no business owned or controlled by me, no business in which I have a financial interest and no entity that I serve on the board or as a trustee of, is eligible for a James Beard Foundation Award.

6. The statements made in paragraph 2 and 3 above are true as to me and all members of my family.

The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.

The Foundation expects each employee to work to further the mission and to exercise the highest levels of integrity, ethics, and objectivity in actions and relationships that may affect the Foundation, including representing or negotiating on behalf of the Foundation.

Our continued success is dependent on all parties knowing they can count on us to be honest, fair and good stewards of all assets of the Foundation. Our members, sponsors, suppliers, volunteers, and fellow staff members expect and demand relationships based on integrity and trust. We must not misuse the authority or influence of our positions in these relationships. Whenever there is doubt as to whether an action is appropriate, or whether it will cause embarrassment to the Foundation or its reputation, it should be avoided.

Some questions we can use to guide our actions when making decisions are:

Is it legal?

Does my decision align with the Foundation’s mission?

Is it the right thing to do?

Is it the appropriate thing to do given all the circumstances?

Would I want everyone to know about this?

How will I feel about myself?

Did I talk to all the right people when making this decision?

The Foundation provides this Code of Conduct and Ethics for guidance in recognizing and resolving properly the ethical and business issues that may be encountered in conducting the Foundation’s work and carrying out the Foundation’s mission.

Employees who violate this code are subject to severe disciplinary action, including termination of employment. Employees who know of violations must immediately report them to the President of the Foundation or any member of the Board of Trustees; if they do not report known violations, they are also subject to severe disciplinary action. An employee who reports a violation or a potential violation may, to the extent legally possible, remain anonymous. There will be no “retaliation” against individuals who report violations. Any employee with a question about a potential violation of law or the interpretation of this policy should contact the President of the Foundation or any member of the Board of Trustees.

This policy will be regularly communicated to all employees of the Foundation. Every employee is responsible for communicating this policy to outsiders with whom he or she works and who transact business with the Foundation. The Foundation will have this policy publicly available on its website to assist in this communication.


Whenever we are engaged in the Foundation’s work, we are expected to act in the Foundation’s best interests. We must avoid conflicts of interest, or the perception of conflicts of interest.

A “conflict of interest” occurs when an individual’s private interest interferes in any way—or even appears to interfere—with the best interests of the Foundation. A conflict of interest can arise when an employee takes actions or has interests that may make it difficult to perform the Foundation’s work objectively and effectively. Conflicts of interest also arise when an employee, or a member of her/his family, receives improper personal benefits as a result of the employee’s position in the Foundation. Improper benefits may include anything of value offered to us in an attempt to inappropriately influence our business judgment. We also recognize that the perception of a conflict of interest may be just as damaging to the James Beard Foundation’s reputation as the actual existence of such a conflict. Therefore, we are committed to avoiding actual or perceived conflicts of interest. When faced with a real or potential conflict of interest, employees will make a full and prompt written disclosure to the President. This Code does not attempt to describe all possible conflicts that could develop, but here are some examples:

1. Relationships with Suppliers

Suppliers must be selected on the basis of the best interests of the Foundation. We must never make supplier selections based upon our personal interests. In most situations involving business greater than $1,000 annually, competitive bidding should be used, with decisions made on the basis of quality, price, availability, and service. The employee and President should determine when the bidding process will be used. We seek out suppliers who share our commitment to the highest ethical business standards and have proven records of supplying high quality products and services that are safe and conform to the law.

2. Relationships with Sponsors, Donors, Chefs, and Members

Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To ensure that the James Beard Foundation merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that sponsors, donors, prospective sponsors and donors, chefs, and members can have full confidence in the Foundation and its work, we operate in accordance with the following Donor Bill of Rights (created by the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education):

To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.

To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing Board, and to expect the Board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.

To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.

To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.

To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.

To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.

To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.

To be informed whether those seeking donations are employees of the organization, volunteers, or hired solicitors. (JBF Note: It is the responsibility of the employee, volunteer, or hired solicitor to make a positive and accurate description of their relationship with the Foundation).

To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.

To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.

The James Beard Foundation does not affiliate with any partisan and/or religious groups, activities, and/or ideologies. Partisan and/or religious views of participants in any of our programs, including the James Beard Awards, do not reflect the views of the James Beard Foundation.

3. Gifts and Benefits

Decisions must be made on the basis of factors such as quality, performance, delivery, price, services, and financial responsibility. We believe that offering, providing, soliciting, or accepting anything for the purpose of improperly obtaining or rewarding favorable treatment from a supplier, sponsor, or chef is always unacceptable. We believe that ordinary and reasonable business courtesies may be appropriate in certain circumstances. However, we must insure that any business courtesy offered or received is modest in value and does not influence, or appear to influence, the business decision of the recipient.

1. Meetings with suppliers, sponsors, or chefs may include an aspect of entertainment, provided the entertainment is of reasonable value and occasional frequency, and is customary in the work of the Foundation. The nature of meetings and entertainment should always be in good taste and not in conflict with the Foundation’s mission or reputation. The employee should maintain records of these meetings and the business nature of the discussions on the appropriate expense reporting forms.

2. No cash gift or gratuity or any kickback, free services, or special favors from any supplier, sponsor, or chef may be solicited, requested, or accepted. Gifts of a nominal value (defined as less than $100) may be accepted provided they have not been solicited and are not being made in return for a special consideration of a decision.

3. Any gift whose value is over $100 must be reported in writing to the President. Any gift whose value is over $200 must be approved in writing by the President prior to acceptance.


Employees have access to information that, if revealed to outsiders, could be damaging or sensitive to other members or staff, harmful to the best interests of the organization, or even create legal liability. Information provided to staff may concern personnel, financial, contractual, membership, or legal matters. It will often be confidential and is intended for use in decision-making and governance. Generally, any matters not publicized by the James Beard Foundation should be viewed as confidential. We should never give confidential Foundation information to people outside of James Beard Foundation who have no need to know. Information will be held in the strictest of confidence and shall not be divulged to any outside party, including other members, without authorization of the President or the Chairman of the Board.


We recognize that one of our Foundation’s most important resources is the staff—the women and men whose commitment, passion, creativity, talent, and energy help us fulfill our mission. The Foundation is committed to providing an open, safe, inclusive, and respectful work environment, free of discrimination and harassment. We hold ourselves and each other to high standards and are expected to grant others the same respect, cooperation, and trust we wish for ourselves. We encourage a teamwork approach, which affords our employees an opportunity to grow professionally, have job satisfaction, and be productive contributors.

1. Job Expectations

We all need to come to work each day ready to perform our jobs ethically and in a way that is in line with our mission and that serves and adds value for our members, chefs, sponsors, donors and volunteers. We should protect the Foundation’s assets and its good name.

2. Equal Employment Opportunity

Discriminating against any Foundation staff or member with whom we have Foundation business on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, citizenship, national origin, color, sexual orientation, pregnancy, religion, military status, or any other legally protected status is not permitted. This applies to all areas of employment including hiring, training, advancement, compensation, benefits, counseling, and termination.

3. Workplace Harassment

Harassment in the workplace on the basis of any legally protected status is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated. Unwelcome advances, such as requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, may be forms of sexual harassment. In addition, conduct that may create an uncomfortable situation, such as inappropriate comments, jokes, intimidation, or physical contact, may be forms of workplace harassment. We should avoid any actions or words that might be interpreted by another as harassment.

4. Cooperation

The Foundation is committed to quickly and effectively resolving issues that are brought to our attention. From time to time it becomes necessary to conduct investigations into these alleged issues. All staff must cooperate fully in these investigations and maintain the utmost confidentiality. Failure to do so could result in disciplinary action.

5. Protection and Proper Use of Foundation Assets

All employees should protect the Foundation’s assets and ensure their efficient use. Theft, carelessness, and waste have a direct impact on the Foundation’s continued success. All Foundation assets should be used for legitimate Foundation business purposes.

6. Whistleblower Policy

The James Beard Foundation (the “Foundation”) requires its directors, officers, employees and volunteers to observe the highest standards of business and personal ethics in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities. As employees and representatives of the Foundation, we must practice honesty and integrity in fulfilling our responsibilities and must comply with all applicable laws, regulations and corporate policies of the Foundation. In this spirit, the Foundation encourages its directors, officers, employees and volunteers to identify any instances in which these standards may be compromised.

This Whistleblower Policy (the “Policy”) has been established to provide a means for directors, officers, employees and volunteers of the Foundation to raise good faith concerns about behavior by or within the Foundation that is or appears to be illegal, fraudulent, dishonest, unethical or in violation of any adopted policy of the Foundation (a “Suspected Violation”). A “Whistleblower” is the director, officer, employee or volunteer reporting such Suspected Violation pursuant to this Policy. A copy of this Policy shall be distributed to all directors, officers and employees of the Foundation, and to all volunteers who provide substantial services to the Foundation.

Examples of Suspected Violations that should be reported under this Policy include, but are not limited to, violations of federal, state or local law or regulations; fraudulent financial reporting or actions that may lead to such fraudulent reporting; providing false information to or withholding material information from the Foundation’s auditors; destroying, altering, concealing or falsifying a document, or attempting to do so, with the intent to impair the document’s availability for use in an official proceeding; or planning, facilitating or concealing any of the above. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather a guide to the types of improper behavior covered by this Policy. In addition to actions which have been taken by others that the Whistleblower believes in good faith to be subject to reporting, actions which have not been taken, and which the Whistleblower believes are required to be taken to be in compliance with laws or corporate policies adopted by the Foundation, are also within the scope of this Policy.

Reporting Responsibility
All directors, officers, employees and volunteers are covered under this Policy and it is the responsibility of all directors, officers, employees and volunteers to comply with this Policy and to report Suspected Violations in accordance with the procedures set forth in this Policy. The individuals involved in such Suspected Violations may be directors, officers, employees, volunteers, auditors, vendors or other third parties.

Compliance Officer
The Chair of the Foundation’s Audit Committee (the “Compliance Officer”) or his or her designee is responsible for investigating and, as discussed below under Handling of Reported Violations.

Procedure for Reporting Suspected Violations
Any person may report a Suspected Violation, either in written or oral form. The complaint submitted by the Whistleblower should include whatever documentation is available to support a reasonable basis for the allegation(s) and to assist in investigating the complaint.

Complaints of Suspected Violations may be made anonymously. Anonymous complaints should be detailed to the greatest extent possible because follow up questions will not be possible, making the investigation and resolution of such complaints difficult.

A Whistleblower should direct all reports, either in written or oral form, to the Compliance Officer. If the Compliance Officer is the subject of the Suspected Violation or a Whistleblower is not comfortable reporting a complaint concerning a Suspected Violation to the Compliance Officer or is unsatisfied with the response, the Whistleblower is encouraged to instead speak with his or her supervisor or anyone in management with whom he or she is comfortable. In such case, the manager to whom such Suspected Violation is reported shall in turn report such Suspected Violation to the Compliance Officer, unless the Compliance Officer is the subject of the complaint, in which case the manager shall submit the report to the Audit Committee. If the Compliance Officer is the subject of the complaint, the Audit Committee shall designate someone to act in the place of the Compliance Officer and all references to the Compliance Officer in this Policy with respect to such complaint shall be applicable to such designee. Such report shall include a statement as to whether such Suspected Violation was reported first to the Compliance Officer; if it was not, the report shall indicate why the Suspected Violation was not reported to the Compliance Officer.

Although the Whistleblower is not expected to prove the truth of the allegation(s) asserted in the complaint, she or he must demonstrate reasonable grounds for concern. No investigation will be made of unspecified wrongdoing or broad allegations. The Whistleblower is not responsible for investigating the activity or for determining fault or corrective measures.

Any investigation will be conducted in a manner that conceals and protects the Whistleblower’s identity to the greatest extent practicable given legal requirements, consistent with the need to conduct a fair and adequate investigation and take necessary corrective action.

Procedure for Handling of Reported Violations
Unless the complaint is submitted anonymously or there are overriding legal or public interest concerns, the Whistleblower will be provided with an acknowledgment of receipt of his or her complaint within ten business days.

All complaints will be promptly investigated by or under the direction of the Compliance Officer, and appropriate corrective action will be taken if warranted by the investigation. The Compliance Officer may resolve any complaint without consulting others, discuss such complaint with the Audit Committee, any other Board committees or the Board of Trustees before taking action or refer the matter to the Audit Committee or the Board of Trustees for action, depending on the Compliance Officer’s determination of the seriousness or severity of the complaint.

The Compliance Officer shall provide to the Audit Committee on at least a quarterly basis a written report identifying all complaints reported under this Policy during the preceding quarter or indicating that no such complaints were reported. The Compliance Officer is required to report to the full Board of Trustees at least annually regarding such complaints. Records of all complaints shall be maintained in accordance with the Foundation’s document retention policy.9

Following investigation, the Foundation will take appropriate remedial and disciplinary action as it deems justified by the circumstances, including, but not limited to, terminating employment, board membership or volunteer status, seeking restitution, removal from office, or criminal prosecution.

Acting in Good Faith
Anyone filing a complaint concerning a Suspected Violation must act in good faith and have reasonable grounds for believing the information disclosed may indicate a Suspected Violation. Any allegations that prove not to be substantiated and which prove to have been made maliciously or knowing them to be false will be viewed as a serious disciplinary offense.

No Retaliation
No director, officer, employee or volunteer of the Foundation who in good faith reports any Suspected Violation (whether reported to the Foundation, its agents or its auditors or to any law enforcement officials, government or regulatory agency), or who cooperates with an investigation of a complaint (whether conducted by the Foundation, its agents or its auditors or by any law enforcement officials, government or regulatory agency), shall suffer intimidation, harassment, discrimination, or other retaliation or, in the case of an employee, adverse employment consequences. Any person who retaliates against someone who has reported a Suspected Violation in good faith is subject to appropriate discipline and corrective action, up to and including termination of employment in the case of an employee.

A Whistleblower’s right to protection under this Policy does not provide him or her with immunity for participating or being complicit in the Suspected Violation that is the subject of the complaint or ensuing investigations. 

Any questions, concerns or suggestions regarding this Policy also should be addressed directly to the Compliance Officer.