The KPMG management also encourages its employees to follow these guidelines:
Stay informed about the ethical and legal standards that apply to your job activities.
Know whom to ask if you are unsure of the right thing to do.
Speak up if you have a concern.
Get help if you need it.
Grant Thornton on the other hand implements a novel enforcement policy that includes a central ethics committee who will make sure that the code of ethics is followed in letter as well as in spirit. Stakeholders involved in violating the code are subject to stringent disciplinary action that could lead to termination of employment contract. Even contributing indirectly to the violation of these rules can have negative consequences to the party. Grant Thornton’s code of ethics also states that “failing to report known violations” (Martin, 2004) as a punishable offence as well. In addition to that, disrupting or undermining the internal ethics committee investigations will amount to the same level of punishable offence. Finally, any retaliatory measures on part of the guilty party will attract even severe punishments. Hence, the accounting firm leaves no loop holes for its employees to digress from its commitment to the highest ethical standards. The fact that the strictest rules are first imposed on their employees rather than suppliers or contractors is an indication of the seriousness with which Grant Thornton approaches its business ethics. The following excerpt from the company’s code of ethics document further reinforces the point:
“You should also be mindful that violations of laws or Grant Thornton’s standards could trigger external legal actions against you, your colleagues, and the firm, its affiliates, and clients. Criminal or government enforcement actions can include suspension or revocation of licenses, debarment, sanctions, monetary fines, criminal penalties, and imprisonment”. (Shiner, 1994)
KPMG also realizes that the temptation to deviate from ethical norms is at their highest in the context of getting ahead of competition in the highly competitive marketplace of today. Hence, a separate section has been allocated in its code of ethics document on how to go about competing fairly. For example, Antitrust, as a idea, represents maintenance of stringent laws and regulations that are in place to ensure free trade and fair competition. In many countries across the world these complicated legislations discourage business practices that undermine market competition. So, the code of ethics asks the employees not to sign contracts/agreements with potential and existing competitors regarding such things as “pricing, profitability, or billing terms and conditions of the work they perform”, as well as ”sales and marketing plans & supplier terms and contracts” (Shiner, 1994). Hence, by being elaborate in specifying potential pitfalls of a competitive market place, the KPMG code of ethics provides a sound reference guide not only for ethical conduct, but also for sound competitive practices.
Roger A. Shiner., Accounting ethics: the general part, Business & Professional Ethics Journal 13.n1-2 (Spring-Summer 1994): p.p9(15).
Bill Martin and Philip Rothman., Building a culture of control awareness.(corporate ethics and accounting)., Bank Accounting & Finance 18.1 (Dec 2004): p.7(6).
Jo-Anne Dressendofer., Corporate ethics … “follow the leader”? (Manage Your Assets).(National Business Ethics survey), Financial Executive 19.2 (March-April 2003): p.72(1). (951 words)
Teri Shearer., Ethics and accountability: from the for-itself to the for-the-other., Accounting, Organizations and Society 27.6 (August 2002): p.541(33).
Christopher Houghton Budd., Understanding Accounting Ethics.,Review of Social Economy 65.4 (Dec 2007): p.486(4).