As a small business owner, making ethical decisions is very important. If a decision is considered unethical or morally wrong it could affect how your customers view your organization, whether you retain employees and the profits of your business. The biggest ethical issues facing small businesses today include accounting of transactions, social media, harassment and discrimination, health and safety and privacy.
Ethics in accounting is an area that is extremely critical. “Cooking the books” in order to decrease a tax liability can be a very serious issue that can have significant consequences. This can lead to interest and penalties and possibly jail time depending on the severity. Another example is if you have a person managing your business that is able to manipulate sales figures to increase their bonus. This is essentially stealing money from your business. Making your records look better than they actually are can mislead potential investors or lenders.
Starting in 2020, chartered professional accountants will be required to complete 4 hours of professional development related to ethics over the course of 3 years. Given how important ethics is in our industry this is a great change. The last time I was tested on ethics was during my professional exams. As well, I am now using an application that will be discussed in an upcoming blog that should make this ethics requirement more enjoyable for me and less about compliance.