I complete my honors degree in business this year. After four long years, I know that our professors give us a whole lot of bullshit.
Finance: "Increasing rates of growth and maximizing shareholder wealth is the most important thing in business" but what about the effect of unrestrained growth on the environment?
Strategy: "Outsourcing to third-world manufacturers is a good cost-cutting technique" but what about accountability for sweatshops
Consumer Behavior: "Marketing directly to children is more effective than marketing to their parents" but, aren't we preying on the vulnerability of children?
Obviously, everything in italics is never mentioned. The only class in the past four years that spoke of ethics was Accounting. Accounting is a way of measuring and communicating a company's financial position. Financial statements such as the balance sheet and the income statement are prepared by the accountants. They have to follow a set of guidelines set out in GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). Once an accountant signs financial statement, they tied legally to it. That is, they can be sued if they lie or do not expose the whole truth.
Now I want to talk a bit about the noble accountant. Accountants know the deepest, darkest secrets of the firm so they can make great whistle-blowers. Anti-sweatshop activists detected proof of Nike's bad practices through their financial statements and, who do you think uncovered The Mob's tax evasion practices and put them away?
Strangely, accounting comes to me as naturally as music comes to other people. After working at an accounting firm for a year and a half, I decided I couldn't do it because it is a very restrained and isolated life. So, hug an accountant today... they need it.