An organizational code of conduct contains rules, regulations and the discipline expectations of an organization from its employees. It basically stipulates what is and what is not accepted and consequences of violations. This paper provides an analysis of the codes of ethics of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and those of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI) with an aim of identifying similarities and weaknesses and therefore providing a basic idea of a good universally accepted code of conduct document.
The AICPA code of conduct document consists of a principles and a rules section. The principles are meant to provide or give support to the organizational rules governing performance of its members whether in industry, education, government, or public practice. Regarding responsibilities, the document requires that members exercise sensitivity, sound and rational judgment when conducting their professional responsibilities simply because their role is very pertinent in society.
Members are also required to work as a team and in cooperation with one another in order to uphold and enhance the accounting art and public trust and confidence, (AICPA). Additionally, each member is required to take full responsibility of his actions and be aware that his service is meant for public good and therefore should demonstrate professionalism at all times and in no way should he betray public trust.
This is because they are very many professionals that include but not limited to employers, investors, credit grantors and governments whom depend on their integrity and objectivity therefore these accountants have no choice but to strive and work for the community well being and not for self interest, (AICPA). Therefore this additionally implies that their overall service should reflect genuine public interest. Moreover the members are to uphold integrity even when encountering pressure from their various clients.
Integrity is seen as being very fundamental in ensuring public trust and confidence is sustained. It constitutes candidness, objectivity, honesty, and devoid of deceit, principle subordination, and malicious ambition meant for self gain. Members are also required to maintain and sustain their independence while being objective at all times. The implication is therefore that the members have the obligation of carrying out their responsibilities in such a manner that is devoid of conflicting interests. Moreover the members are required to keenly observe ethical and technical standards while on duty.
It is also their responsibility to upgrade their competence in order to ensure excellent quality services are offered to clients. Similarly the IMA code of conduct requires from members the commitment to uphold ethical value while executing responsibilities. It requires the members to work as a team and help each other attain the principles of objectivity, fairness, honesty and responsibility. It additionally stresses the importance of members continually improving their skills in order to serve the public in excellence and admirable expertise, (IMA).
Moreover the members are required to ensure that their judgments are always concise, accurate and as timely possible. Any limitations to their duty or rational decision making processes are supposed to be communicated to the relevant persons in authority, (IMA). Confidentiality is critical and no member is to divulge any clientele information without legal authorization. Integrity and credibility are also important values that the members need to pay attention to. The document further goes ahead to offer its members the procedures that need to be followed incase they encounter ethical conflicts.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland code of ethics also requires its members to behave with integrity that involves truthfulness and fair dealing. Its members are in addition required to exercise objectivity in their professional judgments and high level of competence as they conduct their professional responsibilities. Their document further stresses the applicability of the principle of courtesy towards clients and total commitment diligence when carrying out professional duties, (ICAI). Generally the codes of ethics for the three professional bodies exude more similarities than differences.
For example they both stress the need for high levels of integrity when members are executing their professional duties because that is the only way they will be able to sustain their clientele confidence and trust. Additionally they both require their members to execute their duties in total objectivity. Objectivity is meant to help them to make rational decisions that would not violate the organizational rules and regulations and cause unnecessary cases of fraud. Objectivity in this case calls for intelligent honesty, impartiality and avoiding subordination of judgment by all means possible.
They also require their members to endeavor to maintain high standards of competence; members are therefore encouraged to look for means that will continually develop their skills and knowledge in this regard. The codes of ethics as well require that members serve in a manner that will ensure their clients well being rather than their selfish personal ambitions. They also encourage confidentiality of clients’ private data stipulating punishments for disclosures that have not been legally authorized. They additionally give a general description of the professional attitudes and behaviors of their members.
Situations of conflicts of interest are also addressed although the documents fail to give specific measures or guidance to its members in the case they are confronted with multiple ethical conflicts. The documents have moreover clearly addressed the nature of relationship that the members need to have not only with their suppliers, and clients but also the community surrounding the organizations. Strict directions regarding secret commissions and kickbacks have been given and the members are forbidden across the board from receiving such favours lest they get in the way of their rational judgments.
The documents also describe and give their members specific favours regarding organizational assets and funds. The principle of communication additionally comes out as a critical element both for the implementation of the document and achievement of organizational objectives. The biggest similarities in the documents though are that they both seek to educate, guide, discipline and inspire their members, (Ladd). The differences in these documents are hard to trace but the most noticeable are that they have not clearly given the distinction between macro and micro ethic issues.
They are additionally not clear and precise on the disciplinary action for violated clauses creating possibilities of them being ineffective when it comes to disciplinary matters. With the exception of IMA’s code of conduct document, the others fail to give the procedure to be followed in the case of two or more ethically conflicting situations, (IMA). Compared to the IMA and ICAI codes of conduct the AICPA document has done a very commendable job as they cover a lot of crucial areas.
The document tries to give disciplinary measures for violations though it may not be easily discernible if those measures are actually implemented on the ground.
Reference List: I
nstitute of Management Accountants, (IMA). Statement of Ethical Professional practice, 2008. Retrieved on 27th July 2009 from http://www. imanet. org/about_ethics_statement. asp Ladd, R. Critisms of ethical Codes, 2004. Retrieved on 27th July 2009 from http://74. 125. 77. 132/search? q=cache:qoNfeTNlcMAJ:java. cs. vt.
edu/public/ ers/dunlapd/CS3604/powerpoints/Code%2Bof%2Bethics%2Bcriticisms. pp weakneses+of+codes+of+ethics The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, (AICPA). AICPA Code of professional conduct, 2009. Retrieved on 27th July 2009 from http://www. aicpa. org/about/code/index. html The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, (ICAI). Rules of professional conduct, 2006. Retrieved on 27th July 2009 from http://www. icai. ie/en/General/About-Us/Charter-Bye-laws-Rules-of Professional-Conduct-and-Code-of-Ethics1/Rules-of-Professional-Conduct as-amended-July-2006/