Corrections or additions?
This article by Jeff Lippincott was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper
on October 27, 1999. All rights reserved.
Be Ethical or Pay
If you are an employee, how can you tell if your company
is ethical or a scam? If you are the boss, how can you instill an
ethical sense in your workplace? Find out at an all-day seminar
by the Institute of Management Accountants Thursday, October 28, at
8 a.m. at the Palmer Inn. The morning session will discuss corporate
ethics and the afternoon will be devoted to sentencing guidelines
as set by the federal government. Cost: $275, $160 for half a day.
Charles Calhoun, a CPA who is certified as a fraud examiner by a
association of fraud examiners, will speak at the seminar. He defines
ethics as "a system of principles that leads one to make
and fair decisions" and considers himself a realist so far as
how ethical businesses are these days. Estimates are that corporate
fraud is a $400 billion dollar problem.
Calhoun feels that it is beneficial for companies to address the fraud
issue now. "It used to be the case that individuals and companies
who would tackle ethical issues would be few and far between,"
says Calhoun, "but now the Ethics Officers Association, which
didn’t even exist five years ago, has well over 500 members."
"Red flags" that Calhoun says should alert an employee to
an unethical workplace include a high pressure environment; bounced
company checks; missing records; lack of support for bookkeeping
operations dominated by one individual; and consistently late reports.
"It may take a while to cook those books," says Calhoun.
Attributes that Calhoun feels make for an ethical workplace include:
for the rest of the company."
for having an ethical organization — a code of ethics. Establish
that a company will strive for honesty."
behavior. Establishing the parameters of unacceptable behavior."
on track. "Ethics is an ongoing process," Calhoun says.
"employees to discuss ethical problems or report something that
goes against the code of conduct."
program. "If a company were to face a penalty for a violation
for a Federal law, having a compliance program in place will help
lower their fine," says Calhoun.
Calhoun, 45, is based in Westport, Connecticut. Raised in Verona,
New Jersey, he received his undergraduate degree from Principia
in Ellsah, Illinois. After earning his MBA in accounting from Rutgers,
he started his career with the firm of Haskins and Sells and has held
a number of internal auditing positions with such diverse employers
as Colt Industries, Horn & Hardart, and New York Life. He can be
at 203-227-7527 or E-mail: email@example.com.
While federal prosecutors can’t send a corporation to jail, the
typically establishes a financial penalty that can go up or down
on the type of offense. Penalties for ethics violations have gotten
harsher and can go up to $290 million in fines. Restitution is the
first thing that is taken into consideration for the individual or
company that has sustained damages. But what makes the biggest impact
with ethics violators is the specter of public scrutiny. This is the
case when a corporation is put on court-supervised probation.
managers and CEOs don’t like is having to report to the court about
their activities and open their books."
Calhoun wants to dispel the notion that businesses concerned about
ethics will be left in the dust. "Good ethics is good business.
Any ethical organization can be a profitable one," says Calhoun.
"Be ethical because it’s the right thing to do."
— Jeff Lippincott
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