Certified public accounting firms are supposed to help business leaders have the most accurate information about the performance of their organization. They are also supposed to protect investors of public companies by testing the validity of the information provided and creating confidence that the numbers are accurate. They catch errors and they discover fraud.
But, presently, it looks like the fraud being committed is by Ernst & Young (EY) themselves. The Securities and Exchange Commission just levied the largest fine ever against an accounting firm, $100 million. After initially stating that they did not have knowledge of cheating on the ethics section of the CPA licensing exam, they finally came clean and admitted to dozens of cases that they were aware of.
What you allow in your space
What you allow in your space, you condone. Leadership at EY denied that cheating was going on when they had knowledge otherwise. This says, “Whatever you can get away with is fair.” I, for one, would not want that way of thinking by an accountant looking at my company’s books. And I have lost confidence in companies who use EY to audit and certify their books.
What do you allow in your space? What do you turn the other cheek for? Does making a profit justify questionable decisions? Is this “just business”? What do your people see you stand for, or not?
All eyes are always on leadership. You teach the people around you how to act by the actions you take. Your children learn that way and so do the people you lead in your community and organization.
Know what you value
When you know what you truly value (meaning your actions always align with your stated values), you make better decisions and you set the example for others. Ethics, like accountability, is not an occasional concept but an always one.
Always be known for standing up for the right thing, being ethical, and serving as someone who can be counted on in any situation.