The Impact of Unethical Behavior
The profession today called accountancy and the professionals today called accountants have been in practice by other names since 4000 BC (Giroux, 1999). As long as commerce of any kind in any form exists, the profession and the professionals will continue to be in the midst of the business world quietly making innovations that change the way the amassing of wealth is recorded. Most accountants are persons of integrity and ethics. Business ethics has many levels at the center of which are the ethics of the individual (Weiss, 2006). Those few accountants who indulge in unethical business practices tarnish the profession for all, implanting in the minds of the public that all accountants practice the “art” of embezzlement and falsifying financial statements. In addition to the unethical behavior particular to the accounting profession, one can find in accounting offices, like other business offices, the unethical behavior of favoritism, discrimination (race, age, gender, sexual preference), sexual harassment, abusive or intimidating behavior towards coworkers, and lying to customers and supervisors (Weiss, 2006). According to a survey conducted in the 1990s, the industry of finance ranked fifth as the industry with the most unethical behavior (Weiss, 2006). If the Enron scandal had not occurred the world of finance would not have the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. SOX laid the foundation for penalizing guilty corporate officers with serving prison time and paying large fines for reporting fraudulent financial statements and deceiving shareholders (Weiss, 2006). SOX also required publicly traded companies to disclose whether or not a code of ethics is in place for its senior financial officers and if no code of ethics is in place, the corporation must explain why (Gaumnitz & Lere, 2004). SOX was meant to restore investor confidence and repair the reputation of large and small businesses destroyed by the scandals (Dagar, 2008)...
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