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Hi Valerie -
If the value of the gift exceeds a nominal amount OR there is any potential that it is intended to influence a decision, then I wouldn't accept it regardless of my company's policy. To do so would be to violate not only my principles but article 4.3.3 of PMI's Code of Ethics.
As PMs, we need to model the behaviors we expect from our team members and other stakeholders closely involved with a project - this requires that we are above reproach.
Agree with the comment above. I've generally seen people accepting year end gifts like gift boxes containing cookies etc. I would avoid anything more expensive and also if the intention is to lure someone into getting things done in their favor. You develop friendly relations with many vendors after a period of time, accepting nominal holiday gifts shouldn't be an issue.
I would generally agree with the above, but there can be some limited exceptions.
In some cultures, it may be considered rude to reject a gift. In that case my employer's policy may actually allow me to accept a gift more than your typical coffee cup or pen with their logo on it, if I either turn the gift over to my company, or pay the nominal value of the gift.
The previous answers are great. In addition, I'd add that I'd likely accept any gift I was given, but I wouldn't keep it for myself - instead, I would share it with my team or give it away to a team member (probably as a reward for exceptional work). This would help me avoid the appearance of being influenced by a vendor, sidestep any chance of cultural offence, and set a good example for my team regarding how to deal with gifts.
I completely agree with the comments above about it needing to be not only allowed by company policy (which needs to take cultural considerations into account), but also that it is inexpensive enough to not influence my decision. However, I would also add that we are often poor judges of what affects us, so I would consult with a trusted friend for their opinion as well for advice on specific gifts offered. If in doubt, I would err on the side of caution. I would also make sure that the potential vendor understands that I am doing all that I can to make ethical decisions, which should help to develop a relationship of trust.
I agree with all my peers - great responses!
I had the same experience, and I did the same as Eric. Avoiding to be culturally rude, as long as the package's value not exceeds certain small amount, I let the vendor send the package to office, so I can share it among the team. On top of that, I reported about the festive gift to HR or company function that ensures ethical business conduct, while I can still maintain professional and ethical decisions towards vendors.
I find it a little sardonic to think that gifts below a given monetary threshold are okay but not if they are above. At the end of the day, the gift is about influencing the receiver. Granted, it may not get you six-figure contracts. It will, however, have the person think well of you.
Last Christmas, I gave candy boxes to the executives I was working with as a contractor. Did I believe a candy box would get me a contract? Of course not! Did I believe the gift would have them think kindly of me? Absolutely.
I would make myself some questions before accepting any gifts from potential vendors.
Would this gift somehow influence my decision? How would this behaviour be perceived by others?
When Ethics is the topic, it’s better to stay at the safe side. As Project Manager we are in a leadership position, therefore we also need to do the right thing and be perceived to be doing the right thing.
I think it is best not to accept any gifts from potential vendors as accepting gifts, rewards or benefits might compromise our integrity or the company's.
We need to consider the impact of gift receiving, if we feel exploited or manipulated then encouraging or accepting gifts would be unethical.
On the other hand, if there is a closing project party and there will be small gifts for the project team then I would think those gifts are purely an expression of gratitude. Receiving them and reporting them to your company should not be a problem
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