Download (direct link):
THE NEXT FIVE YEARS
Even earlier, in 1955, the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science examined the state of ethical standards and professional conduct in several occupations and professions and found a continuing need to improve, update, strengthen, and coordinate mechanisms designed to promote ethical behavior. Fields surveyed and found in need of improvement included public accounting, architecture, medicine, engineering, public education, public service, and business.21
We may face a long and draining process if we are to seriously rethink our assumptions and approaches to occupational fraud, as the aforementioned material suggests. It will be a lengthy effort and will require unending attention. We must remember that for all their apparent successes, the law enforcement profession did not begin to make a significant impact on crime rates for the better part of 20 years into their new era of thinking and acting.
We must have the resolute support of those at the top if this effort is to succeed. Yates, writing more than 20 years ago, spoke to the need for topside support if the internal auditing profession was going to achieve anything close to its full potential. Observers of the political scene in New York City have likewise commented tellingly that the renovation of Times Square could not have happened were it not for the consistency of support throughout three mayoral administrations. Flowers are easy to plant, but they require continuing care to grow. Will such support be available, as we embark on what will certainly be a long and difficult process? It almost assuredly will, at least in spots, for there are certainly many farsighted and committed executives who will see the economic, if not moral, imperative to address issues so massive and persistent. Yet, we must temper our enthusiasm with the realization that not all will join our parade, at least not at first. USA Today published a poll in June 2002 that perhaps indicated a bit of the strange psychology that seems to appear from time to time. While the focus of this book has not been on executive misdeeds, I believe the following numbers speak for themselves as we consider the issue of upper-level support for a more effective response to occupational fraud. The poll, conducted by Starwoods Hotels, interviewed 401 top executives who golf.22 The results?
Consider themselves to be honest in business Played with someone who cheated at golf Cheated themselves at golf Hated others who cheated at golf
Believe that business and golf behavior parallel 72%
As they say in New York City—go figure.
Where We Go from Here
In 2001, Dave Richards, the chief audit executive at FirstEnergy Corporation and the then newly appointed chairperson of the Institute of Internal Auditors, spoke of the need for the profession to have a vision for the future if it was to progress and meet increasingly demanding challenges:
Possessing a personal vision affords several benefits. A vision can empower us to take the actions necessary to drive our careers and lives in the direction we desire. A vision will help us attach the necessary importance to initiatives such as education and training, for example. It will also exact from us a level of commitment that enables us to stick with a project when we want to quit.
Vision helps us remain focused when confronted with alternatives that are not in line with our vision, and it drives us to perform at levels never thought possible. Believing in a particular outcome awakens within us the ability to perform difficult tasks that are necessary to achieve the goal. In addition, people with vision are happier because they know where they are going and they have a plan for getting there.23
Richards then suggests six distinct steps that the profession and its members must take if they are to achieve their vision:
1. Take stock of where I am.
2. Decide what is important.
3. Determine where I want to be in the future.
4. Visualize what that target state would look like.
5. Condense the vision into a concise, memorable statement.
6. Link this statement to performance objectives and measures.
I believe we can take to heart Richards’ vision and his view of how to get there. Our first task in thinking about the future of the fight against fraud in the workplace will be to decide what our vision shall be, then begin to work on the measures necessary to get there.
I would suggest the following as the beginning tasks of a vision toward which we can proceed:
• Develop uniform definitions and measures of what constitutes occupational fraud.
• Develop methods to share information on effective or innovative deterrence programs.
• Develop methods to encourage self-reporting of occupational fraud losses.
THE NEXT FIVE YEARS
• Develop improved awareness of occupational fraud as a serious societal problem.
• Organize and promote research on methods to deter, detect, and investigate occupational fraud.