Most modern companies have a code of ethics, documented in their Code of Business Conduct, which details the ethical and behavioral requirements for their employees of how they operate their business. Employees are usually given the Code when they were hired and little if any emphasis is placed on training and ensuring understanding. "A code of professional ethics is a voluntary assumption of self discipline above and beyond the requirements of the law. The Code of Professional Ethics for public accountants was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant and includes several different categories" (AICPA, 2006). The first, Concepts of Professional Ethics, establishes major requirements for CPAs in different areas of their day-to-day professional activities. The main parts of the Code are:
* Section 50 - Principles of Professional Conduct
* Section 90 - Rules: Applicability and Definitions
* Section 100 - Independence, Integrity, and Objectivity
* Section 200 - General Standards Accounting Principles
* Section 300 - Responsibilities to Clients
* Section 400 - Responsibilities to Colleagues
* Section 500 - Other Responsibilities and Practices
Adherence to the Codes of Business Conduct has come into question since the Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco corporate disasters, which were largely due to leadership deviating from ethical values, misleading shareholders and their employees for personal gain.
Regulation is a partly effective tool in the governing any professional field, including the corporate world. Corporate governance represents the relationships created among the various stakeholders of the business world to effectively direct its activities in meeting the objectives of the stakeholders. In recent years scandals have caused the American public to raise questions about United States accounting standards. The trust of the American people was gone resulting in petitioning lawmakers to amend the problems. In 2002, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).