We have an ethical crisis in corporate America. We have seen Enron officials' self-serving criminal actions, Andersen's destruction of evidence, WorldCom accounting scandals and much more. The ethical crisis reminds me of the well-known African proverb that Hillary Clinton chose as a title for her book about what children need to survive and thrive, "It takes a village to raise a child." Clinton believes that changes in society (our "village") are necessary to enable children to grow into able, caring, resilient adults. It's the network of relationships and values a village provides in addition to the family that supports and affects our lives. "It takes a village" is equally applicable to the current corporate ethics crisis. I believe that societal changes, not just governance and oversight improvements, will be necessary for us to enable the healthy growth and interdependence of American business.
We have seen people put themselves and their own interests above their companies. We have seen certain individuals profit while their companies failed and their employees' life savings were depleted. We have seen willful blindness to dishonest activities. We have seen the failure of boards of directors to oversee company activities. We have seen board members claim not to understand the transactions, rules and regulations affecting the company they serve. We have seen people without accounting expertise oversee accounting activities, people without audit expertise oversee the audit committees of boards of directors and auditors overlook obvious errors in accounting.
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