Business leaders have been urged by the head of accounting trade body Icas to take more responsibility in rebuilding trust.
Speaking at the Icas conference in Glasgow, Anton Colella said a series of corporate financial scandals had proved that regulators and codes of conduct “can only achieve so much”.
“For business to restore its reputation in the eyes of the public, we need leaders at every level to stand up and be counted,” he said.
Colella’s comments came as Icas launched an initiative dubbed “the power of one”, which aims to add “moral courage” to the organisation’s fundamental principles of business practice.
He said: “Corporate failure often begins with personal failure. Our aim is to place personal ethical behaviour as the number one priority for individuals.
“It is often a very lonely place for an individual to stand up against unethical behaviour. The ‘power of one’ aims to show business men and women who meet unethical behaviour that they are not alone – thousands of chartered accountants around the world stand behind them and indeed expect their colleagues to stand up and be counted. The power in this is enshrining the power of individuals to make a difference.”
Other speakers at the conference included Stagecoach co-founder and Icas vice-president Sir Brian Souter and Nick Hewer, the former public relations consultant known for his stint as Lord Sugar’s adviser on The Apprentice.