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The study reveals the enormous pressure that is vested on the retail industry of Australia. The study sheds light on the fact that many high profile brands have failed to owe to various scenarios. The only remedy to this lies in the concept of cost reduction. The ethics of the decision are a major consideration when it comes to the concept of decision making and taking decisions. The study projects that the management judgment does not reside in reaping profits rather in the manner in which the profit is generated. This implies that the success criterion is multidimensional in nature. The study projects the Australian retail industry and the pressure that is vested while taking crucial decisions. Retailers are operating under immense pressure and this can be best cited with the fact that major giants like Coles and Woolworths have failed by 1.5 and 2% during 2015-16. Among all, the best mechanism is to reduce costs that help the business to attain a better position.
Given the manner of operation of the big companies, the key players must have two way to enhance the gross profit that is to enhance the selling price of the product or to decrease the cost. There is a huge pressure on the sales and hence, the retailer can find the way through the above mechanism.
There has been a matter related to ethical considerations when it comes to Coles and Wesfarmers. The conduct of Coles was serious and misleading in nature as it was using the bargaining power. It demanded continued payment from suppliers that was entirely based on benefits that were purported in nature. The scheme was called as the Active Retail Collaboration (ARC) program and if the supplier refused payment then Coles threatened the supplier with the downgrade of the product of the supplier (ACCC, 2014). Even cases pertaining to profit gaps were observed for the products that were underperforming in nature. Further, Tesco was traced by an independent authority to delay the payment to the supplier to enhance the financial position and debts were taking a prolonged time to be repaid.
It is implied from the study that the big players assumed a placed of higher authority and hence, started unfair means with little attention to ethics and corporate governance. The big players took unfair advantage of the international or supplier base that was confined domestically (Smyth, 2017). The cases of the giant players clearly indicate that the steps were taken to ensure financial benefits and project a strong temptation to organizational life. It needs to be noted that the financial benefits were grabbed without considering the concept of ethics and corporate governance and that hampers the long-term objective of the company (Beattie, 2016). Such behavior needs to be controlled with an adequate emphasis on the concept of ethics and following ethical standard.
The organization should act and control in the best interest of the community and the stakeholders. The non-financial measures will help the organizations to perform considering the benefit of the related parties. In short, it can be a catalyst for growth whereby profit motive and benefit can run in the same direction (Bennet & Garvey, 2016).
Unexpected delays in payment can easily have a disastrous impact on the businesses. By delaying payments to suppliers, improvement of the cash position of a business cannot be done because it simply enhances the number of trade creditors of a business. Besides, if creditors are immense in number, the financial resources of a company will soon be blocked by repaying off such financial obligations and thereafter, the company will not remain in any condition to maintain its working capital requirements, as its entire resources are being blocked in paying the obligations. Another reason is that larger organizations have innumerable transactions occurring every day. Therefore, if payments to suppliers or creditors are stretched, it may happen that because of complications, duplicate payments are made to the suppliers. If this happens, the crunch of cash will surely incur within the company and it will face liquidity issues. In addition, by delaying payments to suppliers, cash flow issues will occur to them and as a result, they are more likely to cut connections with the company that will be a negative indicator (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2010). Therefore, considering these issues, it is assured that delayed payments cannot enhance cash position, instead, it will result in other complications.
Integrated reporting can be defined as an approach that intends to incorporate a wider range of measures in order to assist in obtaining long-term value. It also plays a major role in contributing towards the role an organization play in the overall society. Moreover, such value is subjected to various factors like social reputation, dependence on the environment, human capital skills, etc. Such value creation is the major job of integrated reporting and based on studies, it is believed that it can not only enhance the quality of corporate reporting but also change the performance of companies (Kacperczy, 2009). Furthermore, it is well known that incentives and remuneration system of a business enterprise is directly associated with value creation in the medium, long, and short-term. In relation to this, integrated reporting further plays a major role by benefitting a wider range of stakeholders, as it intends to transform the inputs of an organization into outputs that can fulfill all the desired goals or objectives. Nevertheless, integrated reporting starts from the point that any created value irrespective of whether it becomes an intangible or tangible asset, in order to convert it into enhanced performance, thereby affecting market value as a whole (Mangena, 2007).
The concept of ‘at risk’ remuneration concept is subject to performance conditions being met. Companies have their employees indulge in such pay-at-risk plan wherein they interlink a part of their employees’ income to their performance. Moreover, while such system means huge paychecks for the employees when the company is performing enormously great, it also signifies that employees are at risk when the company is underperforming (Pilbeam, 2009). Nevertheless, even though such strategies may not be popular, yet they are generally lawful in nature. However, if specific mandatory requirements in relation to the same are not fulfilled, employees can take necessary actions against the same. The reason why ‘at risk’ appears to be a larger component of net remuneration for senior management and staff is agency dilemma that prevails in larger organizations (Hoque, 2016). This dilemma is the segregation of shareholders of the company from the directors due to development of the modern organization. Furthermore, because of this, management often makes decisions that can result in short-term benefits for their own self-interests but by disregarding the impacts, it would possess in the long run enhancing the remuneration at the risk of the entire business (Bennet & Garvey, 2016). Thus, such component appears to be a bigger component of total remuneration for every senior management and CEO’s.
Stakeholders are basically an individual, organization, and society at large that possess some stake in the organization. They can affect or can get affected by the company’s objectives, actions, and policies. Besides, having a stake means possessing a vital interest in the company’s activities and its business as a whole. The stakeholders of a large supermarket company are the employees, management, creditors, owners, suppliers, etc (Carol et. al, 2016).
When an organization is working with proper ethical standards, employees are the ones who follow their footsteps. In simple words, employees make significant decisions in a lesser time when ethical standards are followed (Paradise & Rogoff, 2009). This can not only enhance the productivity of the organization but also improve employee morale as a whole. Besides, if such happens, the entire organization is benefitted in terms of both financial and non-financial aspects. Furthermore, management and shareholders work as agencies in an organization. Therefore, if there is a conflict of interest betwixt both these stakeholders, the agent may perform in his own interests instead of performing for the effectiveness of the principal (Hoque, 2016). This may altogether result in ineffective practices prevailing within the company, thereby hampering the entire working environment as a whole. Therefore, this concept is relevant to ideas concerning the moral behavior of organizations.
The CEO of Wesfarmers has commented that a long-term sustainable growth is vital over the short term gain and this can be done when the management is strong enough to make optimum use of resources. The challenge of establishing a sustainable growth is not an easy task given the rapidly changing competitive, economic, and political trends. These trends present a unique challenge to all the business leaders seeking sustainable growth. In relation to this, researchers and modern economists have stated that the culture of managing long-term sustainable growth over short-term gain cannot be developed inside an organization if they do not focus upon twin cornerstones that are growth capability and growth strategy. In simple words, companies that pay lesser attention to one of these aspects are more likely to attain failure in their attempts to achieve sustainable growth over short-term gains. Another way is to understand how vital it is to establish brand equity and emotional contacts with the consumers. If companies are able to do the same, then sustainable growth is not difficult to be attained over short-term gains. Besides, ecosystems are also vital for attaining sustainable growth as they play a key role in offering a structure that supports and surrounds the businesses within them. Therefore, this can also serve as a way for organizations like Wesfarmers to develop a culture that prioritizes sustainable growth over short-term profits. Nevertheless, this can altogether result in maximization of goodwill as a whole.
When it comes to the process of poor and declining performance, it can be commented that such an incident exerts heavy pressure on the decision-making process and that the accountants need special emphasis. Moreover, it becomes difficult to trace the stock that has rebate attached to it and the rebate leads to an increment in the inventory. Hence, the accountant is faced with challenges in tune to the stocks that are based on a rebate. Since accountants are not directly involved in this, the accountant’s needs to stress upon some important factors like the performance of the stock and the manner in which the stock has behaved or performed (Parker et. al, 2011). Secondly, the accountant should keep a strong emphasis on the inventory level because rebate driven buying tends to enhance the build-up inventory. Therefore, the accountants must have a track of the stock and should consider the rebate based buying. This can help the accountant in providing a better remedy and can, therefore, manage the system with ease and flexibility (Kruger, 2015).
The reason why management accounting promotes the idea of not relying on financial measures only can be attributed to the fact that non-financial measures can also provide better information regarding the company’s performance. Furthermore, it results in employee satisfaction because if an organization intends to enhance the working environment, the employees will know that their company does not care only about money. Therefore, if an organization focuses on employee satisfaction, it can easily establish a team of loyal and engaged employees (Hemmer & Labro, 2008). Another reason is enhancing the quality of products offered by the company. In relation to this, it must be noted that if an organization focuses on such non-financial measure, it can easily maximize the number of profits attained by it, thereby resulting in enhancement of goodwill as a whole. Hence, enhancing the quality of products and focusing on employee welfare can prove to be beneficial non-financial measures to a specific retailer (Benabou & Tirole, 2010). The relevance of this concept is that if an organization or a specific retailer focuses on non-financial measures, they can not only cater to the stakeholders but also redress the grievances of the entire community, thereby serving as an ethical organization respectively.
For a Chief Financial Officer, the best possible performance measurement would be the utilization of a balanced scorecard system. The reason behind this can be attributed to the fact that financial measures like TSR have become outdated in nature and can only assist in tracking financial performance. In simple words, such measures cannot assist in tracking the overall progress of a CFO over time. As a result, the outcome attained through utilization of financial measures like TSR would fail to develop effective action plans in order to frame a strategic direction. Besides, using a balanced set of measures is more likely to depict a balanced assessment of the overall performance of a CFO, which includes both financial and non-financial aspects.
Similarly, when it comes to the performance measurement of a junior accounting officer, using common Key performance indicators to monitor their performance will be more suitable. Therefore, a balanced set of measures will be more feasible in this regard, because financial measures cannot capture the outputs given by such officers and the impact of their work on the organization. It will be a grave mistake for companies to use simple tactics like TSR to evaluate the performance of such officers, as such methods cannot offer best results.
Business ethics represents the acceptable behavior an organization expects from the employees. Therefore, the requirements of ethical decision-making cannot be distinct in the case of management or financial accounting, or internal and external audit. In all these measures, both the management and its employees are liable to exercise ethical behavior so that any other party is not harmed (Benabou & Tirole, 2010). In simple words, all business decisions whether it is management or financial is directly associated with a moral or ethical dimension because they have an influence upon the stakeholders. However, there may be some common principles when it comes to financial and management accounting or internal and external audit. The ethical decision may be slightly different in these areas because management accounting only focuses on internal issues but by being ethical (Benabou & Tirole, 2010). Similarly, the internal audit also focuses on internal management by being ethical. In contrast to this, external auditing and financial accounting focus on both internal and external issues by exercising moral affairs. Furthermore, the only difference is that management accounting is optional in nature that restricts ethical practices whereas financial accounting is mandatory that gives due regard to ethical conduct (Saber, 2013).
There are various ways of incorporating aspects of CSR and sustainable development into the concept of the balanced scorecard. Firstly, by integrating all the social and environmental segments of the company into the scorecard so that the major drivers or indicators of performance can be added by utilizing the top-down strategy for introducing the social and environmental segments. Secondly, by introducing another perspective into the scorecard that is the viewpoint of CSR and sustainable development (Bauer & Hann, 2010). With such addition, an organization can enhance the reporting quality through such balanced scorecard as it can facilitate the better measurement of performance, thereby proving ethical to the organization. Thirdly, by deriving a particular addition from the basic scorecard in order to focus on the assumption that the ascertained social or environmental scorecard cannot be framed parallel with another scorecard. In simple words, the significance is that the ascertained social or environmental scorecard is a development of the prior two concepts (Manoharan, 2011). Nevertheless, practices that are beneficial for the society and environment may prove negative for corporate profitability but integrating ethical and sustainability issues into a balanced scorecard can offer a clearer picture of the interconnection among sustainable practices, profitability, and strategies of a company.C
Going by the overall study, it can be pointed how the retail brand operated and made profits at the expense of the supplier. The weak bargaining capacity was the major loophole that aided the practice. An apt example in this scenario is of the 7Eleven, Wesfarmers, Tesco, etc. An important consideration in this scenario is that the employment link should not be projected as an expense item in the income statement and needs a proper consideration in the long term. Another consideration that can be taken into consideration is that commercial decision making cannot be considered as profit criteria. The short-term motive of the company should be towards cost reduction and stress that the consideration. Moreover, accountants are always in a critical position in terms of control. They are into a critical position to define, promote and to implement the performance measurement and report the drivers that are not only driven in terms of profit but related to decision making. However, the accountants can always assume a special position and help in controlling the market by defining, promoting, and implementing the performance measurement. This can help the company to have a major hold on the profit-making ability and even the decision-making process. This will be a major landmark in the process of ethics, however; the entire process is laced with immense challenges.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) 2014, Court finds Coles engaged in unconscionable conduct and orders Coles to pay $10 million penalties, viewed 15 October 2017 https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/court-finds-coles-engaged-in-unconscionable-conduct-and-orders-coles-pay-10-million-penalties
Bauer, R & Hann, D 2010, Corporate environmental management and credit risk, Maastricht University.
Beattie F2016, Wesfarmers confirms Target scandal, viewed 15 October 2017 https://www.businessnews.com.au/article/Wesfarmers-confirms-Target-scandal
Benabou, R & Tirole, R 2010, ‘Individual and Corporate Social responsibility’, Ecnomica vol.11, pp. 1-19
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Bhattacharya, Du S & Sen S, CB 2010, ‘Maximizing business returns to corporate social responsibility (CSR): The role of CSR communication’, Management Review vol. 12, no. 8, pp. 19-26
Carol, A.A, Brad, P , Prakash J. S, & Jodi Y 2016, ‘Exploring the implications of integrated reporting for social investment (disclosures)’, The British Accounting Review, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 283–296
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Hoque, F 2016, The 7 Fundamentals Of Sustainable Business Growth, viewed 15 October 2017 https://www.fastcompany.com/3049856/the-7-fundamentals-of-sustainable-business-growth
Kacperczyk, A 2009, ‘With greater power comes greater responsibility? Takeover protection and corporate attention to stakeholders’, Strategic Management vol. 30, pp. 251–285.
Kruger, P 2015, ‘Corporate goodness and shareholder wealth’, Journal of Financial economics, pp. 304-329
Mangena, M 2007, ‘Disclosure, Corporate Governance and Foreign Share Ownership on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange’, Journal of International Financial Management and Accounting, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 53- 85
Manoharan, T.N. 2011, Financial Statement Fraud and Corporate Governance, The George Washington University.
Paradise, R & Rogoff, B 2009, Side by Side: Learning by Observing and Pitching In’, Ethos, vol. 37, pp. 102–138
Parker, L, Guthrie, J & Linacre, S 2011, The relationship between academic accounting research and professional practice, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 5-14.
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Saber, S 2013, Bangladesh disaster shows why we must urgently clean up global sweat shops, The Conversation viewed 15 October 2017 https://theconversation.com/bangladesh-disaster-shows-why-we-must-urgently-clean-up-global-sweat-shops-13899
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