Ethical Challenges in Accounting Profession
The goal of this assessment task is to test your knowledge and understanding of ethical and sustainability challenges faced by the accounting profession and apply best practice principles and recommendations related to appropriate business practice. There are two parts of this assessment task: Part A relates to ethical dilemmas and PART B is about sustainability challenges. Each part is described below:
PART A: Ethical Dilemmas – Issues and Solutions
Most accountants in business and the public sector, whether working in a small organisation or serving as the chief financial officer (CFO) of an international corporation, face ethical dilemmas during their professional careers. Ethical dilemmas come in many forms and accountants sometimes need support to address complex and challenging conflicts. Accountants may also treat ethical dilemmas as business decisions and not utilise their professional code to assess potential courses of action.
The CGMA survey report Managing Responsible Business, A Global Survey on Business Ethics shows that a 10%-15% increase since 2008 in organisations providing both statements of ethical values and a code of ethics, as well as related training, provision of hotlines, and incentives, such as performance-based rewards. The survey also shows an almost 20% increase in organisations both collecting and reporting ethical information. The majority of accountants feel it is important to collect and analyse ethical information, but one in five do not believe their organisation will do so in the near future. Despite an increase in ethical codes and training, there is greater pressure within organisations to act unethically. Security of information remains the biggest issue of concern across all markets. Bribery has risen from sixth to third in the rankings of issues of concern, reflected by the increase in anti-bribery and corruption legislation.
A common aspect to resolving ethical dilemmas is to help accountants define and apply the fundamental principles in their professional code of ethics. A distinguishing mark of the accountancy profession is the responsibility to act in the public interest and professional ethics places an expectation on accountants to self-regulate their behavior in accordance with the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (the Code) developed by the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA). The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) member organisations are required to abide by ethical standards at least as stringent as those stated in the Code.
These standards may potentially be threatened by a broad range of circumstances including self-interest, self-review, advocacy, familiarity, and intimidation. An awareness and understanding of these circumstances will help us to establish which fundamental principles are affected by a situation and why.
Identify and describe THREE (3) ethical dilemmas after systematically reviewing recent media articles/postings/legislations/reports/journal articles/broadcast or social media. Gather the relevant facts and for each issue describe: why it is an ethical problem; Identify the affected parties -individuals, organisations and key stakeholders affected; in what way are they affected; how would these ethical issues affect the reputation of the accounting profession; how would these ethical issues affect the public interest; propose solution to each ethical issue and describe which fundamental principles are affected and what are the threats to compliance with the following fundamental principles of ethics developed by the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA):
- Professional competence and due care
- Professional behaviour
- While writing your essay consider the following threats to fundamental principles:
- Self interest
Are there safeguards which can eliminate or reduce the threats to an acceptable level? For examples safeguards can be created by: profession, legislation and regulation; work environment; organisation’s internal procedures and policies; whistle-blowing procedure. (approximately 2,000 words length).
PART B: Sustainability–Challenges and Solutions
Sustainability is becoming more important for all organisations, across all industries. Over 62% of executives consider a sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive today, and another 22% think it will be in the future. Simply put, sustainability is a business approach to creating long term value by taking into consideration how a given organisation operates in the ecological, social and economic environment. Sustainability is built on the assumption that developing business strategies which foster organisation longevity. As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, and as transparency becomes more prevalent, professional accountants are recognising the need to act on sustainability. Professional communications and good intentions are no longer enough.
Identify and describe TWO (2) sustainability challenges, affecting accounting profession as well as threatening the existence of our planet. Propose solution to each challenges (approximately 1,000 words length).