Code of Ethics
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Code of Ethics for Board Members, Committees, and Members of the Society for American Music



 To establish a set of principles and practices of the Society for American Music
that will set parameters and provide guidance and direction for conduct and decision-making among the Society’s Board members, those appointed to represent the Society in an official capacity, committee chairs and members, and Society members in general.


Members of the Society for American Music are committed to observing and promoting the highest standards of ethical conduct in the performance of their responsibilities to the Society and in their general interaction at Society events and in Society communications. Board members pledge to accept this code as a minimum guideline for ethical conduct; all Society members are encouraged to commit to these guidelines as well:


  1. Faithfully abide by the by-laws and policies as set for in the Society’s Handbook of the Society for American Music.
  2. Exercise reasonable care, good faith, and due diligence in organizational affairs.
  3. Fully disclose, at the earliest opportunity, information that may result in a perceived or actual conflict of interest when conducting the affairs of the Society.
  4. Fully disclose, at the earliest opportunity, information of fact that would have significance in board or committee decision-making.
  5. Remain accountable for prudent fiscal management to Society members, the board, and nonprofit sector, and where applicable, to government and funding bodies.

Professional Integrity

  1. Maintain a professional level of courtesy, respect, and objectivity in all Society activities.
  2. Maintain the highest level of respect and professional courtesy in the use of social media to communicate information about the Society, its events, and items of interest to its members (see Handbook).
  3. Refrain from speaking on behalf of the Society except as authorized by the Board. Refrain from using the name of the Society in conjunction with an endorsement of any kind. (Members of the Society may respond to inquiries as private individuals or in their own professional capacities.)

Personal Gain / Conflict of Interest

  1. Exercise the powers invested for the good of all members of the organization rather than for personal benefit, or that of any other nonprofit that a board member or committee volunteer may represent.
  2. Reveal potential conflicts of interest to Society leaders as appropriate. (Note: As stipulated in the Society’s Handbook, the President, President-elect, and Vice-President are not eligible to apply for Society fellowships but are eligible to receive Society awards. In the spirit of not discouraging service, all other Board members may apply for Society fellowships and are eligible to receive Society awards. If a board member is nominated to receive an award, that person will recuse themselves from voting on the final decision. Board members will also recuse themselves from votes on awards to their students or partner.

Equal Opportunity

  1. Ensure the right of all Society members to appropriate and effective services without discrimination on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, state or region represented, race, religion, age, political affiliation, marital status, disability, or military status, in accordance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

Confidential Information

  1. Board, Special Appointees, and Committee Chairs: Pledge to respect the confidentiality of sensitive information they are privy to as a result of their service.

Collaboration and Cooperation

  1. Respect the diversity of opinions as expressed or acted upon by the Society of American Music board, committees, and membership, and formally register dissent as appropriate.
  2. Promote collaboration, cooperation, and partnership among Society members.


  1. SAM subscribes to the definition of harassment as set forth by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

    Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).

    According to the EEOC, harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

    Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

    Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

    • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
    • The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
    • Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

    If you are being harassed, or if you witness another SAM member or conference attendee being harassed, please contact the SAM Executive Director, President, or Vice-President. The consequences will depend on whether the harassing behavior was promptly corrected, the harasser was willing to take advantage of corrective opportunities, and the nature and context of the conduct. In the most extreme case the Board may prohibit the offender from Society membership and conference attendance.


Approved: Society for American Music Board of Trustees, 20 March 2019

Based on: National Council of Nonprofit Associations.