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Ethical Behavior In Today’s Environment

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Read below from Manager Jason Bainter, a post he wrote in 2013, which is a good reminder and still relevant today:

It seems as though lately I am reading a lot more about fraudulent behavior and how CPAs can make sure they are being diligent about detecting fraudulent behavior.  The August 2013 Journal of Accountancy had two articles covering fraud, fraud articles and tweets seem to be popping up on Twitter and there was an article published on AccountingWeb.com on “Ethical Behavior Differs Among Generations.” It seems that as company’s start rebounding and performing better after the recession that more fraud is taking place. I would like to discuss the AccountingWeb.com article.  This article describes some of the negative traits and workplace attributes widely assigned to each generational group and then goes on to discuss how Millennials (Generation Y, born 1981 to 2000, are tech savvy, appreciative of diversity and skilled in multitasking) observed 49 percent of workplace misconduct, which was the highest of all generations.

The types of workplace misconduct observed included personal business on company time – 26%, lying to employees – 22%, abusive behavior – 21%, company resource abuse – 21% and discrimination – 18%. What types of workplace misconduct have you seen or have you heard about? And of those Millennials that observed unethical behavior, 67 percent reported it. Have you ever observed unethical behavior and reported it? Yet while these Millennials are observing and reporting misconduct in the workplace, their concept of what is ethical can sometimes be skewed when it comes to social networking. Millennials believe that using social networking to find out about the company’s competitors, “friending” a client or customer on a social network, keeping copies of confidential documents, working less to compensate for cuts in benefits or pay, taking a copy of work software home for personal use and buying personal items using a company credit card are ethical. Have you observed any other “ethical” behavior in the workplace?

Millennials are the people that will be taking over companies and becoming owners and bosses in the next few years and if Millennials are observing more workplace misconduct and then also believing that certain behavior is ethical when in fact it isn’t, it seems to me that this is going to lend itself to some unethical business owners in the future. I believe that it is the older generations: Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen Xers, responsibility to assist the Millennials in recognizing what is and is not ethical workplace behavior before it is too late and they develop bad workplace behavior that will follow them as they rise through the ranks of the business world. It is crucial that organizations have ethical standards in place, have available resources for additional help, have mentor programs to mentor the younger staff and have consequences for violations of the organizations code of conduct. Does your company have a Code of Conduct for unethical behavior and do offenders have consequences for violating that code?

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