Two accounting students, Joan and Miguel were studying for their final university accounting exam.
“Miguel, what if they ask us whether the accounting profession should speak out about the shortcomings in financial statements?”
“Like what, Joan?” We know they don’t show the value of employees or the impact of inflation, or the economic reality or market value of many transactions-is that what you mean?”
“No, I mean the advocacy of disclosures which will lead to a better world for all of us. For Example, if we could only get companies to start disclosing their impacts on society, and particularly our environment, they would be induced to set targets and perform better the next year. We know that lots of externalities, like pollution costs, are not included in the financial statements, but we could speak out for supplementary disclosures.”
“Joan, you go right ahead if you like, but I’m going to stick to the traditional role of accountants – to the preparation and audit of financial statements. It got us this far, didn’t it?”
“Yes, but do medical doctors refrain from commenting on health concerns, or do lawyers refrain from creating laws that govern our future? Why should we shy away from speaking out of an issue that we know something about that mean a lot to our future?”
Question: Is Joan or Miguel right? Why?
Submit your answer in the “Leave a comment” menu in this page by the end of 7th June 2011.
This case study is taken from:
Brooks, L. J., and Dunn, P. 2010. Business and Professional Ethics for Directors, Executives and Accountants. South-Western Cengage Learning. USA