The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) has established the NASBA Center for the Public Trust to address the issue of ethics and ethical behavior in business, education, public policy and society.
As media stories reflecting heightened concern over the poor ethical behavior of professionals and organizations proliferate, the need for a public discourse promoting the positive aspects of the business world has never been more urgent. Moreover, fulfilling this need from within the accounting community is not only timely, but also particularly relevant. The Center will sponsor lectures, conferences and seminars dedicated to addressing the duty of professionals to serve the public good, along with a focus on the issues that arise in the practical ethics of public life.
A focus of the Center will be to showcase and promote the positive perspective. Ethics centers have been a part of the academic and business landscape for many years. The NASBA Center for the Public Trust stands out because a primary objective is to “tell the good news.”
Our mission statement and goals are:
To engender and foster confidence and trust in American corporations and institutions and the professions that serve them.
Affirm and encourage what’s right.
Showcase best practices.
Provide forums for ethics education.
Promote a positive perspective.
To accomplish those goals the NASBA Center for the Public Trust will:
- Lead innovative programs in ethics and promote the development of ethical leadership.
- Advance the theoretical understanding and practical application of ethics.
- Identify and illuminate ethical issues.
The focus on linking theoretical and practical ethics is an enhancement of the regulation of accountancy. Many boards require the passing of an ethics examination or the completion of courses on ethics prior to licensure. The NASBA Center for the Public Trust would take the next step in this process – the linking of the theoretical to practical. Clearly, the role of ethics within the professions should consist of more than the study and testing of the code of ethics.
Furthermore, the Center will strive to encourage ethical deliberations in decision-makers by stirring the moral conscience and imagination by providing a forum for exploring and furthering ethical practices in organizations. Historically, negative events in the business community have been considered newsworthy and much attention and energy has been expended in that direction. The NASBA Center for Public Trust will have the opposite approach – focus and attention will be given to the organizations and individuals who employ best practices and endeavor to elevate the ethical threshold in the business world.
The Center’s inaugural event, “A National Dialogue on Revitalizing Public Trust,” will be held September 15, 2005 at the Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, DC. The conference will focus on what is being done in Congress, by state government, in business, in the accounting, legal and other professions to revitalize the public trust. Speakers include New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, US congressman K. Michael Conaway and Political Columnist Tim Chavez.
The Center for the Public Trust will also recognize individuals and corporations who follow high standards of social responsibility for performance and leadership. NASBA, as the national organization dedicated to the enhancement of the regulation of accountancy, is uniquely qualified to establish such a center.