Read 'Grey matters ethical dilemma: Creative accounting?' from the January 2017 print edition of The ReviewReaders were asked to decide on a course of action when faced with a request to amend the wording of an invoice from a supplier, Liberate, to enable them to claim grant monies, which would not otherwise have been available. Readers were offered four potential courses of action:
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A. Accept what they have been told without comment and amend the invoice as requested.
B. Tell Liberate that they cannot be a party to any form of sharp practice and terminate their contract immediately.
C. Accept that it is in their interests to try to resolve the situation with Liberate and encourage them to discuss the situation with the grant-awarding body.
D. Report the matter directly to the grant-awarding body, including a calculation of the amount of money that they believe Liberate may have wrongly claimed.
No one felt that having been alerted to the fact that all was possibly not as it should be, that it would be reasonable to carry on regardless. However, one wonders whether, had the usual administrator been at work, the matter would have ever seen the light of day.
So, having decided that some form of action is necessary, the question is how one should approach the matter. Here, most readers felt that the middle course of action, option C, would be most appropriate, with which we do not disagree. Even so, it would be sensible to ensure that this is followed up, so that having taken the initial step, the matter is not then allowed simply to ‘slip off the radar’.
Response B attracted several responses, but the weakness of this course of action is that it is a rather hostile response to a situation where, at this point, you do not have a full understanding of what may be involved.
Response D was the second most popular, but as with response B, you appear to be pre-judging the situation since you do not yet have the information required to make the necessary calculation.
It really is a step up from the course of action in response B and so may be considered unduly hostile as a first step.