A curious phenomenon happening in the accounting profession is where accountants are now required by law to take classes in ethics on a regular basis. This is seemingly a case of over-reaction with the major scandals of Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco. These high profile cases are out of the ordinary and this appears to be a case of punishing the many for the sins of a few. Ethics can not be taught in a class. A person's character is already so ingrained by time he or she studies to be an accountant that waiting until then to teach an ethics class is too late.
Cheffers and Pakaluk (2007) take exception to these opinions and typical statements against requiring accountants to take ethics classes. Their belief is regulation and rules are inadequate in dealing with the persistent problem of the circumstances of auditing. They are of the discipline that the task of accounting is to declare the truth about the financial condition of an enterprise, thus providing the conditions of trust necessary for a market economy.
Part of the problem is auditors are not paid by those whose interests they are supposed to represent.
After presenting many detailed facts about the Enron and WorldCom debacles, Cheffers and Pakaluk (2007), believe that ethics courses will reinforce the standards of conduct that is inherent in accounting. Four enduring reasons they believe ethics courses should be taught include (a) auditors are not paid by those whose interests they are supposed to represent, and regulation can not solve this, (b) accountancy is a profession which lacks the history, tradition, and self-understanding of the traditional profession, (c) accountants must state the truth in a way adequate to particular circumstances, and (d) accounts must serve as watchdogs and thus be especially able to resist greed and...