The Importance of Ethics in Accounting

For Ohio students entering a bachelor of science (BS) degree in accounting program, they encounter not only a field that deals with numbers, but one that is also self-aware about the need for accounting professionals to do the right thing. 

Accounting is a vitally important function in any organization. This is because accounting is concerned with the flow of money into and out of the organization—a major responsibility given that it encompasses everything from the organization’s revenues, to payroll, to taxes, to financial obligations, to the accurate reporting of the organization’s financial position through income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. 

In carrying out these responsibilities, accounting professionals have access to sensitive information about an organization’s finances, its people, and its dealings with other entities. A deep level of accuracy and detail is a necessity—one that is required by law. A serious accounting misstep can call into question an organization’s finances and result in serious consequences, as illustrated by the multiple major accounting scandals that have made headlines over the past several years.

Acting with the Utmost Integrity

To avoid scandals such as these—and even lesser ones that can still have serious repercussions—accounting professionals must take it upon themselves to always act with the utmost integrity and to be unfailingly ethical in doing their jobs. 

Recognizing the importance of these responsibilities, the accounting profession is guided by codes of ethics and professional conduct from bodies including the Association of Certified Public Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the Institute of Internal Auditors, and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants.

These codes of ethics and professional conduct vary in length, with some checking in at more than 200 pages. They are, however, similar in their areas of focus, which include, with some variation, objectivity, integrity, confidentiality, competence, and professional behavior. Each of these codes is intended to guide decision making and preserve the reputation of the field of accounting, the accounting professional, and the organizations they serve.

Avoiding Major Consequences

If accounting professionals don’t adhere to ethical behavior and practices, their organization can face many possible consequences, including losing customers, losing investors or other partners, facing legal issues, and even having difficulty staying in business. Accounting professionals themselves also face the risk of losing their job, their professional reputation, and potentially facing their own legal troubles.

When all of this is taken into consideration, it’s clear that codes of ethics and professional conduct offer an invaluable roadmap for accounting professionals to do their jobs the right way—and to avoid the headaches—and worse—that can result from unethical or unprofessional behavior.

Your Future in Accounting

Become an ethical, highly valued accountant with a bachelor of science degree in accountancy from John Carroll University’s Boler School of Business. Boler accounting students gain the broad knowledge and specific skills needed to flourish in this changing profession. The knowledge base you build will help you to balance customer/stakeholder/sustainability priorities, advocate for long-term and ethical leadership and strategy, anticipate and adapt to changing market conditions, and communicate with clarity.

JCU is a private Jesuit university located in University Heights, Ohio, near Cleveland.