The Audit & Risk Recruitment Industry Survey 2015, conducted by global job board careersinaudit.com, collected responses from 1,700 auditors and tax agents and revealed that two thirds of respondents feel that they would not be protected by victimisation and/or dismissal if they were to speak out against unethical conduct.
Simon Wright, sales and marketing director of careersinaudit.com, told AccountantsDaily that the insistence on trust within the profession makes many accountants afraid to speak out.
“Accountancy is a profession into which people put a lot of trust; trust within companies and trust within individual accountants,” said Mr Wright.
“Reporting on unethical behaviour from within the industry is a tough call for many professionals who may feel that they might also be tainted with the same brush.”
Speaking on the results of the research, Mr Wright suggested that it was clear that the accountancy community were not happy “with certain unethical decisions made by their colleagues and management and wanted this to be brought into focus”.
According to Mr Wright, whistleblowing measures and programs need to be implemented properly into firms in an attempt to stamp out negative practices from the profession.
“The threat of negative reaction from management or dismissal from reporting unethical behaviour within a company is a huge barrier to ethical employees speaking out.”
After recent claims that accountants were “not so squeaky clean,” Mr Wright suggests that while moral behaviour can be advised through education, it really is down to the individual as to where their moral compass points.
“That said, communication and interpersonal skills are essential for accountants who increasingly are required to become rounded business people in the modern accounting age, rather than the ‘number cruncher’ cliché that one went with the profession,” he said.
“People skills, communication ability, dealing with stakeholders of all levels and people management are all key attributes of the modern accountant.”