Last Sunday, I told my American Accounting Association audience (AAA) that I tell my accounting students that at some point in their careers they may be asked to do something, or not do something, that makes them very uncomfortable, that makes them feel that something is not quite right. If so, then they need to raise their hand and ask questions.
Ideally, the leaders in the company they are with will explain why their concern is unfounded, or the company will question the situation and take appropriate steps. I mentioned that I tell my students that if they are told to shut up and go back to work, they need to carefully think this through.
Continuing to ask questions may cost them their job. But if they choose not to ask questions, then they could become complicit in the wrong doing. Witness what happenedto Helen Sharkey of Dynegy Energy, who I have spoken of in an earlier talks. Unsure in her new position of what was the right thing, she did not question, became complicit in securities fraud and went to prison for not speaking up. It cost her her job and her career.