Thursday, September 14, 2006

The SOX Dichotomy

Forgive my lack of updates recently, but I have been trying to put out professional fires left and right.

There is an unfortunate dichotomy that exists in all of business. It’s unfortunate to say this, but it seems as though “the law is the law” is only operable up to a point. Just thinking about it makes me melancholy. You could also apply this dichotomy to other facets of life (politics for example).

Any reader of this blog will know that I love talking about Sarbanes-Oxley and its section 404 for self-compliance. I believe that this quite
possibly vague legislation needs to be continuously debated and talked about to further refine it and evaluate its effectiveness.

However, I am a firm believer that “the law is the law is the law.” (I apologize for the repetition, but I believe that to be the adage.) Unless that legislation is changed, it is our corporate duty to follow it to the letter. The paradigm in not following the law most likely would follow as such:

I believe the law to be wrong, therefore I will not follow it, and in doing so hope that later when it is changed I will not be seen as guilty of any crime.

Unfortunately the problem with that paradigm is that it allows the perpetrator to feel self-righteous even though a majority could think the opposite, and in the end the actions might always be illegal. Our current president is in such a battle right now, and despite what your opinion is, shouldn’t we change the law first before we do anything illegal?

Currently, in my professional role, I’m seeing an effort to try to compromise my principals. In fact, I believe it has direct correlation to SOX Section 404 and self compliance. The basis of the legislation demands that all publicly traded companies to regularly check all their safeguards and review if all items are being approved of and processed in the proper fashion. However, just recently I’ve been put under pressure -- implicitly, not directly -- to go against what is a normal procedure.

Here’s what it boils down to (and why I believe the nature of Sarbanes-Oxley is significant): You can’t follow the law one minute, and the next minute change your processes to attain profit. That is how Enron happened; compromises were made in order to attain profitability. And in that same vain, I will not compromise my standards for the sole purpose of profit. The law is the law. For anyone reading this, I hope you know that you have at least one good steward in corporate America.

Also, let me apologize if you do not like the way this post is opinionated, but I had to let off some steam.

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