Accountability is an issue of growing importance in business. Problems arise when organizations — public and private — lack a system of checks and balances and a meaningful ethical code to guide the decision-making process.
In considering what accountability can mean to one’s professional conduct, it is helpful to understand what it means to be accountable. In business, one is answerable to customers and clients. Stock owners and stake holders are also part of the accountability mix. An industry, a community, colleagues and co-workers demand consideration, too.
But, to reach the very heart of the accountability issue, we must look inward. As Shakespeare tells us in Hamlet: “This above all else: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
True accountability begins, in business and in the rest of the world, when one person does the right thing. Fortunately, that happens more often than not.
Despite sensational headlines and news reports, most people in business work hard, make good choices and are interested in building better businesses and communities. It is those individuals, the quiet, accountable majority, that deserve our attention and appreciation during this time of turmoil and scandal.