In the increasingly globalized environment of business, there has been growing international concern regarding the negative impacts of corporate activity on human rights, particularly in developing countries. This paper argues that in light of recent increased societal expectations regarding corporate responsibility, professional accounting bodies should adopt a protagonist role towards improving business accountability for human rights issues. Accountants are prominent players within business activity and are members of a profession with global reach; accounting organizations occupy a powerful position with strong potential to influence positive corporate social responsibility. This study presents an empirical analysis of the text of the codes of ethics of major international accounting organizations. It finds that these codes make no reference to human rights issues and impose no responsibility upon their members regarding human rights observation, either individually or in regard to the activities of corporate clients. The paper concludes that accounting organizations should include in their mandatory ethical codes a requirement that accountants are proactive in ensuring the observation of human rights within their “sphere of influence”, in accordance with current societal expectations for extended corporate social responsibility.
|Keywords:||Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Rights, Accounting|
Lecturer, Accounting and Information Systems, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Professor, School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
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