Global Survey on Business Ethics
By Terri Eyden
Examples of Accounting Firm Ethical Policies
We asked two firms ‒ Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC, and Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC ‒ to share with AccountingWEB ethical policies/codes of conduct that are in place at their firms.
- As an accounting firm and member of the AICPA, as well as the AICPA Governmental Audit Quality Center and the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center, the firm has established policies and procedures which adhere to the guidelines set forth by AICPA professional standards.
- These policies are set forth in our Quality Control (QC) document, which states: "In maintaining a culture of quality, the firm emphasizes the importance of ethics and integrity in every decision that personnel make, particularly at the engagement level."
- The QC document is provided to all new professional employees and reviewed with them upon hire.
- The firm's ongoing in-house CPE program, New Jersey Law and Ethics, presented by an outside certified instructor, is a regularly scheduled session and mandatory for all employees to emphasize ethical behavior at all levels within the firm.
- Our code of conduct is reflected by our core purpose and statement of values. We are constantly asking the question ‒ how does this activity or action fall within our core purpose and values.
- Our core purpose: To use our knowledge, experience, and innovation to solve problems and enhance opportunities for our clients.
- Our core values are: REACH COMMITMENT
- Respect and concern for our clients and for each other
- Extraordinary competence
- Absolute integrity
- Continuous innovation and learning
- High expectations and accountability
- COMMITMENT to a Balanced Quality of Life
- 80 percent of survey respondents reported that their organization has a code of ethics or a similar document to guide staff about ethical standards in their work.
- 57 percent provide training on ethical standards at work.
- 25 percent offer incentives for staff to uphold the organization's standards of ethical conduct.
- 60 percent said their board of directors has formal responsibility for ethics; 49 percent said it's the responsibility of the CEO.
- 36 percent of organizations collect ethical information, and 40 percent report ethical information.
- 61 percent feel it's important to collect and analyze ethical information, but only one in five believes their organization will do so in the near future.
- 62 percent collect ethical performance information as part of the organization's regular management information gathering processes; 45 percent collect information in separate focused exercises, such as staff surveys.
- 35 percent said they feel under pressure to compromise their organization's standards of ethical conduct. This has increased since a previous survey done in 2008, when 28 percent felt under pressure.
- 23 percent have personally observed conduct that has violated organizational ethics standards and/or policy in the last twelve months. Of those respondents, a majority (69 percent) reported it, despite 26 percent feared that they could be regarded as troublemakers. Of the 69 percent, only half felt satisfied about the way their ethical concern was handled.
- 22 percent said they perceive the most pressure to compromise ethical standards of conduct comes from "working with colleagues from different functional areas within the organization."
- When asked what ethical issues are relevant to their organization, 91 percent cited security of information, 78 percent said bribery, 74 percent reported conflict of interest, and 73 percent said environmental impact.
- 86 percent said they contribute to managing the ethical performance of their organization by "upholding their professional code," 83 percent said "ensuring the integrity of management information," and 80 percent said "leading by example."