The Ethics of Economy: Accountants Can Lead the Way

While I do not mix politics or religion with business, I do want to share a speech from a man who is both a religious leader and a strong voice in the call for caring and sharing among all people. Last month the World Congress of Accountants met in Rome. Among the many professional sessions and speaker, one presenter stood out:  Pope Francis. His speech was a call-to-action for accountants to be leaders and advocates for improving economic conditions for all people through ethical behavior. He said, in part:


“You professional accountants, on your activity, are alongside businesses but also families and individuals, to provide your economic and financial counsel. I encourage you always to act responsibly, fostering relations based on loyalty, justice and, where possible, fraternity, tackling with courage, above all, the problems of the weaker and the poorer. Giving concrete answer to economic and practical questions is not enough; there is need to raise and cultivate an ethics of the economy, of finance and of employment; there is need to keep the value of solidarity alive – solidarity, a word that today risks being removed from the dictionary – solidarity as a moral attitude, an expression of the attention to other people and their legitimate needs.


If we wish to leave to future generations an improved environmental, economic, cultural and social heritage, we are called to take up the responsibility to work for globalizing solidarity. Solidarity is a need arising from the same network of interconnections which develop together with the globalization. And the social doctrine of the Church teaches us that the principle of solidarity is effected in harmony with the principle of subsidiarity. Thanks to the effect of these two principles, processes are at the service of human beings and justice grows, that justice without which there can be no true and long-lasting peace.”
Read the complete speech here.

Using Your Moral Compass

DougWarren_AICPARecently I attended the AICPA instructor symposium, and ran into Doug Warren, who I met last summer at the Tennessee Society of CPAs annual convention. At that time, Doug was a participant in my keynote presentation: Embrace Your Inner Superhero. Doug is managing partner in the firm of Warren and Tallent, CPAs located in Sweetwater Tennessee and teaches fraud and ethics for the AICPA. While catching up, Doug shared a very interesting story with me.

Doug and his grandson Hunter’s birthdays are one day apart, and they enjoy celebrating the occasion together. This past year they made plans to hike a section of the Appalachian trail. As they got ready to head out, Hunter realized he forgot his compass. So they went to the camp store, purchased a compass, and arrived at the starting point for the hike.

At that point, the grandson noticed the new compass was broken – the needle pointed  in one direction only! Doug explained that compasses work that way, they always point only in one direction, north. If you lose your way, Doug explained, you can point your compass to help guide you to your original path.

Doug realized that this story could be a great analogy for ethics. As he works with participants in his ethics seminars he underscores the importance of using a moral compass. If you veer off the ethical path, use your moral compass to get back on track.

Have you checked your moral compass lately?