Who Do You Want to Work with?
Professional accountants globally have a Code to uphold. There is a clear obligation for them to act with integrity and objectivity, and not to subordinate their judgement to others.
Professional codes have developed over recent decades in light of the actions of organizations, both public and private, whose standards of business conduct have been questionable at best and shocking at worst. It is not a surprise, therefore, that accountants, who have a core role of representing the facts, and to be straightforward and honest, may face pressure from time to time from colleagues, superiors, or clients. CGMA research findings in 2015 showed that over a third of management accountants globally had felt under pressure at some point to compromise their employers’ ethical standards.
The professional needs to push back and try to influence the right course of actions or, if that fails, disassociate. Influencing change in a positive way is easiest to do in the right culture. When seeking a new role or considering a move to a new division, or indeed entering a new partnership or venture with others, how do you weigh up the culture? There are a number of questions that can be used in interviews and related discussions to get insight into how ethics are applied in practice:
- How do you describe your organizational culture or values, and how do you assess how these are embedded in the business?
- What training does your organization offer to support these areas?
- What routes exist for escalating ethical concerns? What speak-up procedures are there and how are they managed?
- How is individual performance assessed in relation to the desired behaviors? Has this impacted on the culture?
- What action is taken against staff members, vendors, or partners who breach organizational policies or have been found to have breached regulations?
- How does the organization respond to appropriate challenge in relation to issues of integrity?
The dialogue around these discussion areas will give great insight into the culture of the organization and how they prioritize ethical business practices. The responses will also give insight into the type of individual they want working with them.
CGMA, in partnership with the Institute of Business Ethics, has produced a guidance document on ethical due diligence in recruitment, outlining steps to be taken when hiring in new staff, promoting staff, or, as outlined above, when reviewing a new role. There is greater recognition that a values based culture is key to sustainable growth. Both how and who you hire create the foundations for the culture you seek by employees’ behaviors reflecting an organization’s stated values and corporate responsibilities. By recruiting with an ethical lens, you can help ensure that the right people are in place to conduct business the right way. And by pursuing a role with an ethical lens you can feel confident in making the most of your professional attributes.