Thanks to a connection from Barbara Kimmel with Trust Across America – Trust Around the World, I had an opportunity to work with Curtis C. Verschoor, an author, researcher, speaker and more, on an article about generational changes and the impact on accounting educators. Our article was recently published in the Accounting News Network, and it is entitled:  Ethical Attitudes Differ Among Generations: Implications for Accounting Educators.

Generational Shift in TeachingIn working with Curtis on this article, transparency stands out (again) as a very real (and welcomed) trait of our new social and connected world.

Some of the statistics point to how Millennials are active in reporting wrongdoing within organizations. There is a difference in what is viewed as unethical and the difference relates to the use of social media. Millennials are unafraid to connect with others within an industry, customers, and then share company information – good and bad – through social networks.

Millennials also may be more likely to look the other way if it means saving jobs. The purpose and cause orientation of Millennials play a role in this view.

A few highlights from our article in Accounting News Network.

Accountability for wrongful or harmful decisions is almost immediate.

“When trust is betrayed, a multiplier effect arises to quickly determine responsibility and identify people who are accountable. Consequently, repercussions come quickly and, at times, even too quickly. The danger arises that many may make snap judgments without having all relevant information.”

Collaboration is built into the social channels.

“If expertise is needed for a given project, there is likely someone in their social network to engage and provide help. If there is a potential challenge with a boss or a co-worker, it is efficient to get advice from individuals within their social network. Collaboration is an innate attribute of social channels.”

Security of information is a paramount consideration.

“The increasing reliance by organizations on digital means for gathering, analyzing and storing information results in increased risk of loss or theft of data thought to be secure. Legislation has also increased penalties for breaches in security. Accounting students particularly need to focus attention on both physical security and digital security to avoid the risk of considerable financial and reputational losses.”

Presentation methods may need modification.

“Educational programs need to move away from long, formal presentations and move to interactive approaches. Social and scenario-based training fits with the social mindset of Millennials, but need to be defined and delivered in shorter, more frequent clips. To make points more relevant, real-life scenarios should replace longer case studies and place the Millennial in the middle of the scenario as it unfolds, showing the impact of the decisions made.”

Generational shifts always occur.

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“Millennials have solid perspectives on the role of trust and social good. With added efforts in how educators approach ethical standards and discussions, there is a great opportunity to raise the level of conduct and trust as this new generation continues to enter the workplace.” Accounting News Network, Winter 2014


The transition from generation to generation always creates change and an opportunity to enhance the way we learn and embrace trust and ethics.

Through the decades, the speed to accountability increases as news travels quickly and to many more places than before. Transparency is a reality. Educators and leaders need to embrace how this reality impacts the classroom and workplace.

This is all good news, especially since much of the change is wrapped in a strong desire to improve society.

Are you ready to embrace the new world of trust and transparency?