Ghana: ICAG Hosts Presidential Luncheon 2019

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Ethics and workplace culture are key ingredients that support business growth, development and organizational survival, Dr (Mrs) Irene Stella Agyenim-Boateng, Director, Human Resource, Volta River Authority, has said.

Dr (Mrs) Agyenim-Boateng, who was the Guest Speaker at the 2019 Presidential Luncheon of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana) (ICAG) in Accra on Friday, September 27, also noted that an ethically-sound workplace culture inured tremendously to individual benefits, societal growth and for the benefit of generations to come.

She, therefore, urged the leadership of institutions to visibly display acts of ethical behavior and, in essence, role-model such behaviours for others to follow.

Furthermore, she said, leadership should show commitment to building the right culture that promoted organizational ethics, adding that in an organization where ethics and organizational culture were held in high esteem, and not considered 'glorified rhetorics,' infractions were sanctioned without fear or favour and compliance adequately rewarded.

Dr (Mrs) Agyenim-Boateng said the Accountancy profession was synonymous with ethical behaviour and urged practitioners to conform to acceptable workplace behaviour and standards.

She said organizational ethics and workplace culture could not be decoupled and that words such as integrity and other ethically-centered values and statements should not only be decorative pieces hanging on the walls of institutions, but also be operationalized into the very fabric of organizational activities and behaviour of stakeholders.

She condemned the marketing of poor-quality products, passing on personal expenditure for payment by organizations and favouritism, and acts of nepotism, describing them as loose organizational cultures.

Dr (Mrs) Agyenim-Boateng said loose organizational cultures promoted discrimination and the application of rules on pick and choice basis, encouraged recruitment not based on skills and competencies, endorsed price undercutting, rewarded dishonesty, approved of untruths and turned blind eyes to sexual harassment, and gender-offensive inuendoes.

She underscored the importance of the training and re-training of staff in ethical conduct and warned that organizational cultures, devoid of solid ethical foundations, promoted mediocrity, resulting in permanent reputational damage and eventual organizational collapse.

Prof. Godfred Alufar Bokpin, Senior lecturer, University of Ghana Business School and Guest of Honour, in an address, urged ICAG to be aware of its professional responsibilities to society and specific clients.

Prof. Bokpin said ICAG, therefore, had a duty to ensure that its members upheld the highest standards of professional conduct and were discouraged from engaging in unethical conduct.

He underscored the importance of the role of ethics in structuring organizations by making it easier for people to do the right thing and harder for them to do the wrong thing.

Welcoming participants to the luncheon, Professor Kwame Adom-Frimpong, President, ICAG, reiterated the call for professional accountants and all other professionals to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards of conduct.

Prof. Adom-Frimpong noted that ethics was about principles, values and beliefs which influenced judgment and guided behavior, while workplace culture was both the source of problems and the basis for solutions, adding that a strong culture within business was critical for the protection of assets.

"Employees at organizations with strong cultures feel less pressure to compromise company standards to achieve company goals. And if they do observe misconduct, they are more likely to feel comfortable reporting it, allowing an organization to address issues early, saving the organization time and money. The bottom line: a company is better protected from the risks of misconduct when culture is ethically strong," he explained, adding that research had shown a reduction in employee misconduct in organizations or companies with stronger ethical cultures.

He stressed the need for Codes of Ethics and decision rules and called for a clear feedback mechanism in which employees could report unethical behaviour at the workplace.

Prof. Adom-Frimpong urged leaders or managers to live by example and strictly adhere to the rules and regulations of their organizations.

"Remember, you have no right to scold your subordinates if you, yourself, are at fault. Moreover, no one would listen to you as well. Don't expect your team members to sit till late if you, yourself, leave early," he admonished.

He said communication between management and employees was of utmost importance in inculcating workplace ethics into staff and that staff should be given the tools and strategies to develop the skills to use ethical behaviour through ethical workshops and training specifically designed for the workplace.

ICAG Presidential Luncheons provide the platform to interact and network as accountancy professionals in the hope of learning from each other to enhance outlook and the ability to carry out their duties effectively.

They also serve as the opportunity for the President of ICAG and ICAG Council members to interact with senior civil servants, Members of Parliament, policy makers, business executives and seasoned professionals in various disciplines to exchange ideas on topical issues of national interest.

ICAG has consistently organized annual Presidential Luncheons every September for the past 26 years. This year's luncheon was organized on the theme: Organizational Ethics and Workplace Culture.

The purpose of the theme is to steer the thinking and action of the accountancy profession towards creating and sustaining an ethical workplace culture.

In other words, the topic outlines the role that ethics and workplace culture play in extracting the best out of employees and making them stick to the organization for a longer period.

Present at the Luncheon included Mr Kwasi Agyemang, Chief Executive Officer, ICAG, past Presidents and past Council Members of ICAG.

Source: G.D. Zaney, Esq.

Created: 03 October 2019

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