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“Ethical conduct is an important component of an Auburn education, and this initiative is the latest in an ongoing effort to equip our business students with the tools they need to be successful throughout their careers.”
Auburn University today announced that all students in its Harbert College of Business will be required to complete a new course in business ethics and pass an independently administered ethical leadership certification prior to graduation. The certification will be conducted by the National Association of State Board of Accountancy’s (NASBA) Center for the Public Trust.
The new requirements are designed to better prepare young professionals to handle the ethical dilemmas they will face in their careers. According to Alfonzo Alexander, Ethics and Diversity Officer of NASBA and President of the Center for the Public Trust, Auburn is the first university in the country to require its business school graduates to complete ethical leadership training and attain independent certification. Since 1908, NASBA has served as a forum for the nation’s 55 State Boards of Accountancy, which administer the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination, license more than 650,000 CPAs and regulate the practice of public accountancy in the United States.
“Ethical conduct has always been a key component of the accounting profession — in fact, it is a core competency for all business leaders,” reported Alexander. “The development of this new curriculum and certification serves the growing need to educate our young professionals to meet the critical demand for ethical conduct in today’s challenging business environment.”
A new course and curriculum were developed by a panel of leading business ethics professors from across the country, including Drs. O.C. and Linda Ferrell from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business as well as NASBA’s Alexander. The online curriculum, which has been developed for all functional areas of business, is available for any university to adopt through NASBA’s Center for the Public Trust.
According to O.C. Ferrell, James T. Pursell, Sr. Eminent Scholar in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethical Organizational Cultures at Auburn University, instilling ethical conduct is critical to shaping organizational culture in today’s highly competitive business environment.
“Students need to understand their ethical responsibilities in an organizational culture and how to develop the skills necessary to motivate and manage those who report to them later in their careers. Recruiters are asking us for more certification programs,” noted Ferrell. “Ethical conduct is an important component of an Auburn education, and this initiative is the latest in an ongoing effort to equip our business students with the tools they need to be successful throughout their careers.”
“The Ethical Leadership certification has been extremely beneficial to college students across the nation,” added Alexander. “The curriculum is continually updated and can be customized to meet specific university needs. We hope that Auburn University’s decision to require this independent certification for all its business students will serve as a role model for other colleges of business and a call to action for them to join this critical initiative.”
The certification program has six modules, which cover the following topics: Overview of Ethical Leadership, Ethical Decision Making, Organizational Support of Ethical Leadership, Role of Leadership in Managing and Preventing Conflicts and Ethical Risks, Role of Communication in Ethical Leadership, and Implementing Ethical Leadership. Students are required to complete all six modules and pass an exam at the conclusion of each section.