Internal Audit needs to be an ethical disruptor in a post-covid and #blacklivesmatter world
What is the future of internal audit? How many internal audit functions were furloughed in the UK during the pandemic? How many internal audit plans have been 'paused' while we are in 'crisis'? How many internal auditors have actually considered their own roles in a #postcovid and #blacklivesmatter world?
No doubt many organisations are thinking about recovery and planning for the post-covid era. There will be consideration of how to get people back to work safely. There are certainly questions I am hearing, including 'what if employees don't want to come back to the office?' and 'what about our mental health and wellbeing?'.
There are also going to be opportunities. Most organisations will begin considering opportunities from a cost saving perspective. For many leaders this might mean letting go of staff, reorganising, restructuring. However, this is not true for all organisations.
Then the world shifted again with the unjust death of George Floyd. I watched him lose consciousness on a youtube video and it sickened me. It angered me. It reminds me that we continue to live in an unjust society and world where power and authority is abused. And, then I remembered, I joined the profession of Internal Audit to help keep organisations - POWER and AUTHORITY - in check. I want organisations to do better, be better.
So I have been thinking about what this means, particularly for the profession.
INTERNAL AUDIT CANNOT BE COMPLICIT AND SILENT BYSTANDERS - I call on Heads of Internal Audit, Managers, Team Leaders, to step up - you should be watching out for and be actively involved in influencing / assuring:
How have your leaders responded to #blacklivesmatter and are how they are ensuring #blacklivesmatter in their organisation? What communication has there been around this important and relevant topic? What are your leaders pledging to do? If they are silent on this, call them out!
How equitable is the organisation? What are the inclusion practices within your organisation? Is your leadership balanced? How many BAME leaders are in your organisation? Are members of your leadership team listening? This includes governance arrangements.
Any change in strategy particularly from a cost saving and efficiency perspective - there will likely be a number of redundancies, this is happening now and will continue to happen as the true impact of lock down is felt. Often it is the 'nice to have' budgets that get slashed - but sometimes 'nice to have' are actually 'necessary to have' - what is the due diligence around this? How will business priorities be reprioritised?
Advanced discussions around mergers and acquisitions - the opportunity to survive will provide many organisations with an opportunity to combine resources and create further cost savings and efficiencies. However, most M&A activity will fail to account for, allow or enable culture - which workplace culture will be dominant? What work will be undertaken to induct new people en-masse in to the newly merged/acquired organisation? How will culture enable and bring together a workforce meaningfully in a newly merged organisation?
Be an ethical disruptor for your workplace.