Professional standards: Steve Hughes describes CIMA's work to ensure that employers and the public can always rely upon the ethical conduct and competence of its members and students.

AuthorHughes, Steve
PositionTechnical matters

BAE Systems is to implement all 23 recommendations of the Woolf committee's report on its ethical standards in a three-year programme that will be monitored by an external auditor. The programme will cover areas including leadership in business ethics and the establishment of a global code of conduct. The defence company says it aims to achieve "benchmark standards of governance in the conduct of its day-to-day business", having been investigated by the Serious Fraud Office as a result of its conduct in the Al Yamamah deal (see "Perfect storm", July/August). The company will change its training and monitoring procedures, consult stakeholders and improve communications with its 100,000-strong workforce.


This is one of many recent cases in which organisations have given ethics more credence and used them to drive their business strategies. At CIMA we are dedicated to supporting members and students by ensuring high standards of ethical compliance and professional competence. Professionally qualified accountants are differentiated from non-professionally qualified accountants by their commitment to a code of ethics and by the support given to them by their professional bodies.

The institute's professional standards and professional conduct departments have five main areas of responsibility: standards, ethics, monitoring, conduct and regulation. All of these are about supporting members and students, of course, but perhaps above all they're about enhancing the qualification and thereby developing higher standards, as well as protecting the public. Because of that, they benefit every single member.

Three years ago we recruited an ethics manager. It wasn't an easy position to fill because the whole area of ethics was not so high on the business agenda. A terrific amount of work has been done since then in changing that. The institute now has an ethics support package for members and students, as well as an ethics micro-site ( This contains a great deal of useful information, including a library of case studies and resources, details about the ethics helplines and, of course, the CIMA code of ethics.

We've also recently completed research with the Institute of Business Ethics into what firms are doing to manage their ethical performance and the implications for finance professionals. The results are discussed in a report called "Managing responsible business", which is also available to download...

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