Program Participant Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct for Program and Event Participants

Please submit your program participant agreement at the following link:

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

The Foundation’s mission is "to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America's food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability." 

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

The Foundation reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take action when it receives reports or allegations concerning violations of this Code of Conduct, criminal or unethical behavior or other conduct determined to be detrimental or contrary to the mission, integrity and fair perception of the Foundation or its programs or events. Such action may include, in the Foundation’s sole discretion, removing, disqualifying or terminating a participant from the Foundation’s programs or events.  

Any program or event participant (“Covered Persons”) who has a question about a potential violation of law or the interpretation of this policy should contact the CEO of the Foundation by email at , anyone in management with whom he or she is comfortable, or any member of the Board of Trustees. 

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. We ask that all Covered Persons cooperate fully in these investigations and maintain the utmost confidentiality. 

The Foundation prohibits discrimination because of the individual’s race, color, ethnicity, sex, religion, creed, national origin, citizenship, age, sexual orientation, actual or perceived mental or physical disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, partnership status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, military status, caregiver status or any other characteristic protected by law. This policy applies to all Foundation programs and activities, including but not limited to, recruitment, hiring, compensation, training, education, social and recreational programs, promotion, discipline and discharge. 

All Covered Persons are strictly prohibited from harassing employees, Trustees, independent contractors, interns and other Covered Persons based on any protected classification, race, color, ethnicity, sex (whether or not of a sexual nature), religion, creed, national origin, citizenship status, age, sexual orientation, actual or perceived mental or physical disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, partnership status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, military status, caregiver status or any other characteristic protected by law. 

Harassment is not limited to the Foundation’s premises. It can occur while Covered Persons are at Foundation sponsored events or parties. Calls, texts, emails, and social media usage by Covered Persons can constitute harassment, even if they occur away from the Foundation’s premises, on personal devices.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) local law. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender expression, gender identity and the status of being transgender.

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature, or which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex when:

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment;
  • Such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting an individual’s employment.

The following describes some of the types of acts that may be unlawful sexual harassment and that are strictly prohibited:

  • Unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances or propositions
  • Inappropriate touching of an individual’s body, such as touching, pinching, patting, kissing, hugging, grabbing, brushing against another employee’s body or poking another employee’s body or rape, sexual battery, molestation or attempts to commit these assaults
  • Graphic verbal comments about an individual’s body or appearance
  • Sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks or jokes, or comments about a person’s sexuality
  • Sexually degrading words used to describe an individual
  • Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the workplace, such as displaying pictures, posters, calendars, graffiti, objects, promotional material, reading materials or other materials that are sexually demeaning or pornographic. This includes such sexual displays on workplace computers or cell phones and sharing such displays while in the workplace
  • Sex stereotyping
  • Hostile actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender, such as bullying, yelling, name-calling

Sexual Harassment can occur between any individuals, regardless of their sex or gender. 

Harassment on the basis of any protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited. It is the policy of The Foundation to maintain an environment that is free from harassment on the basis of any protected classification, race, color, ethnicity, sex (whether or not of a sexual nature), religion, creed, national origin, citizenship status, age, sexual orientation, actual or perceived mental or physical disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, partnership status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, military status, caregiver status or any other characteristic protected by law. 

Such harassment includes verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion towards a protected group or against an individual because of membership in such a group, or that of his/her relatives, friends or associates, and that:

  • has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment;
  • has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or
  • otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.

Harassing conduct is prohibited. Although it is not possible to list all examples of conduct which constitutes protected class harassment, the following are some examples of conduct which, if unwelcome, may constitute harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness: 

  • Use of epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, or threatening, intimidating or hostile acts that relate to any characteristic protected by applicable law
  • Displaying or circulating written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of a particular characteristic protected by applicable law
  • Use of derogatory words, phrases, jokes, or negative stereotyping
  • Sending e-mail or voicemail messages containing derogatory statements regarding a particular ethnic group, race, religion or other legally protected status
  • Demonstrations of a racial or ethnic nature such as a use of gestures, pictures or drawings which would offend a particular protected individual or group 
  • Comments about an individual’s skin color or other racial/ethnic characteristics 
  • Making disparaging remarks about an individual’s gender that are not sexual in nature 
  • Negative comments about an employee’s religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs) 
  • Expressing negative stereotypes regarding an employee’s birthplace or ancestry 
  • Negative comments regarding an employee’s age
  • Derogatory or intimidating references to an employee’s mental or physical impairment

Harassment does not require an intent to offend. Thus, inappropriate conduct meant as a joke, a prank, or even a compliment can lead or contribute to harassment.

Covered Persons may raise concerns and make reports of discrimination or harassment without fear of reprisal. No individual shall be intimidated, threatened, coerced, or discriminated against for reporting a claim of harassment, furnishing information with regard to a complaint, or for participating in any manner in an investigation or compliance review.

Threats or acts of retaliation against individuals who report inappropriate conduct pursuant to these policies or provide information in connection with a report by another individual will not be tolerated. In the event a Covered Person believes that he or she has been retaliated against for such action, he or she should use the above procedures to report the pertinent facts promptly. The Foundation will investigate and take appropriate action in the manner described above. 

If a Covered Person believes that he or she or another individual has been subjected to any discriminatory, harassing or retaliatory conduct of the type described in the above policies, he or she is expected to report the relevant facts promptly.  Covered Persons should direct such reports to the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, or, if the complaint involves the Chief Executive Officer or a Trustee, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees (the “Board”) or the Chairperson of the Governance Committee of the Board (the “Governance Committee”). Covered Persons should choose from this list whomever they feel most comfortable contacting under the circumstances.  The conduct should be reported regardless of the offender’s position at the Foundation and should also be reported even if the offender is not employed at the Foundation (for example, a Trustee, vendor, service provider, event participant, program participant, volunteer, guest, or other Covered Persons). Reports may be made orally or in writing. A form for submission of a written complaint of sexual harassment is attached to this Code, and all Covered Persons are encouraged to use this complaint form. All supervisors, managers and Trustees who receive a complaint or information about suspected discrimination or harassment, observe what may be discriminatory or harassing behavior or for any reason suspect that discrimination or harassment is occurring, are required to report such suspected sexual harassment to the Chief Executive Officer, or, if the complaint involves the Chief Executive Officer or a Trustee, the Chairperson of the Board or Chairperson of the Governance Committee.

In addition to the process at the Foundation, Covered Persons may also choose to pursue any external legal remedies that may be available to them (for example, with the New York State Division of Human Rights, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New York City Commission on Human Rights, if applicable). If the harassment involves unwanted physical touching, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime and local police may be contacted. 

Prompt reporting is very important so that the Foundation or its Board can take action to stop the conduct before it is repeated. All reports will be followed up promptly, with further investigation conducted where needed to confirm facts or resolve disputed facts. The investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible. All persons involved, including complainants, witnesses and alleged harassers will be accorded due process to protect their rights to a fair and impartial investigation. 

While the process may vary from case to case, investigations will generally involve:

  • Requesting and reviewing all relevant documents, including all electronic communications.
  • Interviewing all parties involved, including any relevant witnesses; and
  • Promptly notifying the individual who reported and the individual(s) about whom the complaint was made of the final determination.

If after investigating any complaint of harassment or unlawful discrimination, The Foundation or the Board determines that the claimant has provided false information regarding a complaint, disciplinary action may be taken against the individual who gave the false information.

Disciplinary action will be taken against Covered Persons found to have violated the above policies. Individuals who violate these policies may also be subject to personal legal and financial liability under applicable law.

Smoking is not permitted in any space occupied by The James Beard Foundation at any location. All Covered Persons are expected to comply with these smoking regulations.

The Foundation has a zero-tolerance policy toward violence at its programs and events. An act of violence includes but is not limited to actual, threatened or attempted violence toward an individual or to property. We expect all Covered Persons to participate in the Foundation’s programs or events without violence toward any other individual and without possessing weapons. All acts of violence will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken. 

The Foundation intends to comply with all state and federal laws relating to the use/abuse of narcotics and other illegal drugs. The Foundation will not tolerate the purchase, sale, use, transfer, or possession of illegal drugs, narcotics, contraband, or other related paraphernalia on the Foundation’s premises.

Individuals who the Foundation reasonably believes to be under the influence of illegal drugs on the Foundation premises or while participating in Foundation programs or events may be removed.

All forms of gambling are prohibited on the Foundation’s premises and at the Foundation’s programs or events off premises. 

The Foundation requires Covered Persons to observe the highest standards of business and personal ethics in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities. As 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 Covered Persons to identify any instances in which these standards may be compromised.

This Whistleblower Policy (the “Policy”) has been established to provide a means for Covered Persons to raise good faith concerns about behavior by the Foundation’s directors, officers, employees and volunteers and other Covered Persons 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 Covered Persons reporting such Suspected Violation pursuant to this Policy. 

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 CEO. If the CEO is the subject of the Suspected Violation or a Whistleblower is not comfortable reporting a complaint concerning a Suspected Violation to the CEO or is unsatisfied with the response, the Whistleblower is encouraged to instead speak with 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 CEO, unless the CEO is the subject of the complaint, in which case the manager shall submit the report to the Audit Committee. If the CEO is the subject of the complaint, the Audit Committee shall designate someone to act in the place of the CEO and all references to the CEO 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 CEO; if it was not, the report shall indicate why the Suspected Violation was not reported to the CEO.

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 acknowledgement of receipt of his or her complaint within ten business days.
All complaints will be promptly investigated by or under the direction of the CEO, and appropriate corrective action will be taken if warranted by the investigation. The CEO 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 CEO’s determination of the seriousness or severity of the complaint.

The CEO 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 CEO 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.

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 Covered Person 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. 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 CEO.

Foundation Contacts For Reporting

  • Clare Reichenbach, CEO: 
  • Jodi Waterman, CFO: 
  • Cindy McLoughlin, Chair of the Audit Committee: 

Effective: May 6, 2021

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.