Uber’s data breach, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica leak, and Amazon Alexa’s spying scandal — these are just some of the crises from the past year that illustrate how important ethical decision-making remains as we fall headlong into the digital revolution. The uproar that has engulfed these industry giants are a testament to the foresight of the Centre for Accounting Ethics’ 2019 Symposium, “The Impact of Technology on Ethics, Professionalism Judgment in Accounting." This is especially true, as planning for the event began in 2017. Symposium organizers Linda Robinson and Krista Fiolleau tell us what it takes to make Accounting Ethics smarter in an age of smart technology.
1. Take a page out of the (tech) playbook
“Our committee looks at the emerging issues within the profession and the research issues that are stemming from those developments,” says Krista.
Recognizing that technological innovation is transforming the industry, the Centre adopts the same forward-thinking mindset in order to advance the critical role of ethics in this brave new world.
Discussion around the impact of technology on accounting often centre on automation and the future of work, but as recent events have proven, the ethical issues around these disruptions can loom equally large in the profession.
2. Reach across the aisle
A more productive conversation needs all parties at the table. Symposiums traditionally cater only to research academics, not practicing professionals, but the Centre is committed to bridging the gap between research and practice.
This year’s event featured first-time partnerships with CPA Canada and the University of Waterloo Centre for Information Integrity and Information Systems Assurance (UW CISA) in an effort to reach more practitioners. Linda credits UWCISA with assembling the panel of practice-based keynote speakers who spoke on a diversity of topics, from data privacy to innovations in AI.
“One of the things that will attract practitioners,” says Linda, “is to hear about what other practitioners are doing around these topics.”
3. Do nothing to do something
Sometimes, less is more.
“One of the things we make sure to do during the symposium is have a lot of breaks…it gives people the opportunity to talk to one another and makes it a lot easier for people to mix,” says Linda.
"These personal connections can lead to better-informed research, which addresses today's needs of the profession. As well they open up communications channels between practice and academia, which allows for increased dissemination and use of the research," Krista adds.
Accounting Ethics goes beyond accounting or ethics. Learn how you can help us shape its impact and relevance.