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World Business Chicago Approves Strong New Policies on Ethics and Conflicts of Interest, Transparency of Operations and Advocacy

CHICAGO – At its first full board meeting since being restructured by Mayor Emanuel, World Business Chicago (WBC) today adopted comprehensive policies and procedures to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure that it meets the highest standards of transparency and integrity in pursuit of its goals.

The Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policy approved by the Board is based on recommendations by former City of Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, whose law firm, Sidley & Austin, was engaged by WBC on a pro bono basis to work on the matter.

“Our primary mission is to improve the rate of economic growth in Chicago, and that’s where our energies are focused,” said Michael Sacks, Vice Chairman of World Business Chicago and CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management.  “But at the same time, we must operate in a manner that earns the confidence of Chicago’s taxpayers in this investment of tax dollars. These new policies support those goals.”

The policies and procedures spelled out in a resolution approved unanimously require directors and employees of WBC “to adhere to the highest ethical standards, to act in the best interest of [WBC] rather than their own personal interests and to disclose any conflict between the interests of any such director or employee, on the one hand, and [WBC] on the other.”

Added Sacks: “The directors wanted these policies and procedures to make crystal clear their commitment to high standards and best practices.”

The policies approved by WBC focus on three primary areas – conflicts of interest, advocacy and transparency. Key provisions include the following:

  • Directors and employees must seek to avoid conflicts, but in any case must disclose them. They will be prohibited from participating in deliberations or voting on any decisions that might benefit the company with which they have a conflict.
  • As a general policy, WBC will not “recommend or advocate” that direct economic incentives, such as TIF funds, be allocated by the City to a particular company.
  • As part of its annual reports, WBC will publicly disclose its audited financial statements and a listing of all sources of funds – including private donors and firms contributing pro bono resources.  Donation amount ranges will be provided for both categories.

“Mayor Emanuel’s restructuring of World Business Chicago is a powerful statement of his commitment to grow the city’s economy. We are fortunate to have so many top business leaders on our board as we move forward with the creation of a plan for economic growth and execute on other new initiatives,” said Rita Athas, WBC President. “With these new policies, we are making abundantly clear what has always been the case: that when these business leaders come together as World Business Chicago, their only agenda is improving the economy of our City.”

Hoffman said the new policies would help assure the public that WBC is operating without conflicts and in the best interests of the city’s economic development.

“These new guidelines are important steps for WBC in helping to assure that it operates with full integrity and much improved transparency,” said Hoffman. “As a recipient of public funds, WBC must act in a way that shows the public that its decisions and actions are conflict-free and based on the merits of the situation. WBC’s adoption of a new conflict of interest and advocacy policy will be a substantial improvement from the past and will allow WBC to confirm that its actions were based on the best interests of the city’s economic development.”


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