On the eve of an important meeting of the Indiana Board of Accountancy, it occurs to me that what Martin Luther King Jr. said “The time is always right to do what is right,” applies to both ethics and leadership. Sometimes one has to make a hard decision or face harsh judgment to maintain their ethical integrity. Sometimes one has to do the same in order to lead others to a desired future state.

EthicsWhether you followed Jiminy Cricket as a child or Martin Luther King Jr. as an adult, the concept of doing the right thing hasn’t changed. It still means you weigh the pros and cons, consider the risks, and move forward with doing the right thing regardless of consequences or success.

Tomorrow, members of the Indiana Board of Accountancy will decide what they believe is the right thing for the CPA profession in our state. We hope they will weigh the pros and cons, consider the risks and move forward with doing the right thing by approving a rule change for the ethics requirement for CPAs.

You may be asking, “What is the big deal? Is that really such a hard decision?”

Well yes, it is. The big deal is that those board members are daring to challenge an archaic and ineffective model of professional development in the CPA profession. By expanding the 4-hour ethics requirement to be met through volunteer ethics related experience, or through completion of a competency-based ethics course, they are leading the national transformation by saying “We don’t believe the current hours-based CPE model protects the public interest or produces competence in the practice of accountancy.”

Let’s face it. It would be easier to not buck the system. It would be safer to not risk peer ridicule. It would be less work to continue with business as usual. It would take less time to not change the rule. And … it would be wrong. (Note: That’s just my opinion.)

Why wrong? Well, let’s acknowledge that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and developing a different CPE model is extremely complex. Let’s recognize this rule change might really be just a pebble-sized change, and too, it will take many small steps with large boulders being pushed up the proverbial hill by many villagers to accomplish. But then, let’s remember it only takes one loose stone to cause an avalanche.
So regardless, let’s trust that the board agrees the right thing to do is to challenge the system, experiment with different options and focus on what they are really trying to do – build a new city to protect the public.

Admittedly, if the board doesn’t approve the proposed rule, the walls of Jericho will not come crashing to the ground. However, we will have lost an opportunity to help the wheels of change to build a better system, to adapt to the changing world and most importantly, to do the right thing.