From what weve learned in class, there is a moral confusion amongst accountants and the accounting profession. Apparently we aren’t equipped to make those tough moral decisions that need to be made and the longer that we stay in the profession, the more immoral we become. This means from the moment we decide to become an accounting major, our morality starts to drop. I personally don’t believe that this has happened to me or will ever happen to me. Whenever an ethical decision comes my way, I want to do the best that I can to make the right decision based on the context of the information available to me. The key word there is context, if I make what I believe is the right decision and then another factor arises that I didn’t know about, if I can I will re-evaluate it and then make the right choice. There are four main principles that are the most important to me when it comes to making a decision: Honesty, Respect, Integrity and Responsibility/Leadership. I consider responsibility and leadership as one because I believe they are very similar and will describe more when I get to them.
It is very tough to weigh one of these over another but if I had to I think that Respect would be the most important to me. When you’re a child, teachers are always telling you to “treat others the way you want to be treated” and that concept stuck with me my entire life. I have always respected those who deserve it and get angry when I don’t get the respect I deserve, there’s nothing worse than someone being disrespectful to you. In regards to using this in my ethical decision, I would have a concern for everyone involved in the decision. I would put myself in the shoes of the people on each side of the decision and weigh the pros and cons of each. Regardless somebody is going to get hurt, but if I can find ways to minimize the damage of a specific decision, I’m going to do whatever I can to do that. Many people wouldn’t even take the time to give the other people the respect of at least trying to find the right solution, many will just do what’s right for themselves, but not me, anyway I can help people I will.
The next principle that will help guide me is honesty, obviously I’m sure everyone has honesty in their moral compass but it deserves to be there, especially as an accountant. Just as Robert H. Montgomery said, accountants have a duty to their client and the public. The public deserves to know everything that an accountant has uncovered and it is the accountants’ job to be honest when it comes to this. When looking at the dilemma, even if the moral intensity of the consequences are not favorable to you, you need to be honest and not lie to benefit yourself. This was the MAIN ethical problem that led to the scandals in the last 10 years, companies and accountants were not being honest with the public and it came to light. Accountants are the only thing that keeps this economy from dropping into depression, we are the ones that need to enforce the rules and regulations and the only way we can continue to do this is if we are always honest. Without honest accountants, our economy would plummet and we could potentially be taken over by another country (very extreme, hypothetical, not likely situation but still a tiny chance at that).
The third principle that I believe in is my Integrity. Integrity and honesty somewhat go hand in hand but when I think of integrity I consider it as doing what I believe is right. As said before, obviously I think that being honest is very important but there’s just something a little different about having integrity. When faced with an ethical dilemma, when it comes down to it, I am going to do what I believe is right based off the facts, how I feel about the decision and if it is the honest one. You know deep down how you feel about a decision and as we’ve seen in the past, not everyone has integrity. Many people make these decisions that they think is the ‘right’ one and ended up harming millions of people. I believe that my integrity, when looked at in a lexical priority sense with honesty and respect coming ahead of it, will always guide to the ‘right’ decision in my mind. If a decision is made after considering what is ‘honest’ and respects others, but just still doesn’t feel like the right thing to do, then I’m not going to accept it. When it comes down to it, all factors and consequences aside, you have to trust yourself.
The final principle that will influence my decision making process is my responsibility and leadership. I grouped these two together because I believe they are basically one and the same, if you have a leadership position you have a responsibility to those you are leading, and if you have a responsibility you are in charge of making sure you fulfill it. I think this is an extremely important principle because you have to take responsibility for whatever decisions you make, regardless if it negatively affects you or not. If we are willing to take responsibility for our actions, we will be more willing to make the right choices. If someone with no ethical had a choice between doing something to increase your own personal wealth or to do what is right and there was no responsibility involved, its going to be hard for that person to not increase their wealth. But if they had a responsibility to do the right thing, they would be much more inclined to. The leadership role comes into play more with people who manage employees below them. If I am in charge of a specific group of people and have a big ethical decision to make, whatever I decide my employees are going to see and learn from me. In making the right choice, I am helping to teach them to do the right thing, but if I make the wrong choice, I’d be teaching them that it is ok to do the wrong thing as long as you didn’t get caught. I feel that this is a huge factor in grooming our younger, newer employees into becoming ethical employees. If a new employee’s boss tells him to do something a specific way, that new hire has to do it that way, right or wrong, thus starting to teach him how he needs to act in that particular organization. I know this principle better than all the rest because I have younger brothers. They look up to the decisions I make and what I do as a person, giving me more responsibility to do the right thing since I am always a leader to them.
Overall, I believe that someone having respect, honesty integrity, responsibility and leadership can make the correct moral decision that needs to be made in almost every situation. While I can’t predict the future, I seriously believe that by having and living by these qualities, your decisions should always be guided in the right direction and you won’t ever have any hesitation to do the right thing.