ICAS publishes new ethics paper - the CA and the organisation

Sunlight on office
By Ann Buttery, Head of Ethics, ICAS Policy Leadership

16 October 2017

As part of ICAS’ ‘The Power of One’ business ethics initiative, the ICAS Ethics Board has published a new paper - ‘The CA and the organisation’.

Download 'The Power of One - The CA and the organisation'.

Most listed companies and other large organisations identify their organisational values on their websites. In the case of corporates, it is these values that they often use to define their ‘corporate culture’, or at least the corporate culture they seek to emulate.  However, following various corporate scandals, it has become questionable whether the reality of organisations’ corporate culture reflects the rhetoric on their websites.

The five fundamental ethics principles

CAs are required to comply with the five fundamental principles of the ICAS Code of Ethics:

  1. integrity
  2. objectivity
  3. professional competence and due care
  4. confidentiality
  5. professional behaviour.

As employees, partners or directors, CAs are also required to comply with the code of conduct and values of their respective organisations.

Following on from ICAS’ “The Power of One – Organisational culture and values” paper published in September 2017, this new publication by the ICAS Ethics Board seeks to assess the alignment of the fundamental ethical principles incumbent upon every CA with the values of their respective organisations.

Aligning organisational values and the fundamental ethics principles

A review of the websites of 25 FTSE 100 companies was undertaken in order to identify the corporate values promoted by these organisations, and these were then compared to the five fundamental ethics principles to which CAs must adhere.

The selection was not undertaken on a statistical basis but was designed to ensure that companies from different sectors were included. A wide array of values were quoted by the organisations selected.  Certain values were unique to individual companies, but there was also a great deal of common ground.  In particular, a common theme was that the majority of organisations cited values which had some form of ethical connotation:

accountability balanced compliance
courage decent dependable
do the right thing excellence fair dealing
honesty honour integrity
open quality reliable
reputation respect responsible
service sustainable transparent
trust truthful valued

The review concludes that the ICAS fundamental ethics principles generally align, or at least are not inconsistent with, the values stated on a significant number of large corporate websites. As such, by championing the ICAS fundamental ethics principles in their daily lives, CAs are in a strong position to assist organisations actually live the ethical values to which they aspire.


  • The Power of One

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