A long time ago, accounting supervisors really were slave drivers.

You think you have a rough manager or partner that’s hard to please….

Jacob Soll explains in his book, The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations, that in ancient Athens, around 500 years B.C. accounting and auditing was an integral part of the business and political world.

There were complex accounting systems that included public audits to create accountability. There were a number of staff working for the public treasurer to keep an eye on funds. Many people, including freemen and slaves were trained in accounting. However,

For the most part, Athenians preferred public slaves as comptrollers and auditors because they could be tortured on the rack and freemen could not.

Soll, Jacob (2014-04-29). The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations (p. 3). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

So 2,500 years ago accounting supervisors could be real slave drivers, as in driving and beating actual slaves. Maybe we don’t have it so bad.

Adrienne Gonzalez at Going Concern has already mentioned this and created some traction for the quote. Please know there is a bit of naughty language before you check out her brief article.

(Cross-posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

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