In exploring the concept of ‘adding value’, I have introduced a basic concept to help with the categorisation and measurement of value or benefits criteria. You can read about that in earlier articles. This article will explore the next benefit criteria within the concept and this is a criteria that has evolved dramatically over the past five years (for the better in my own humble opinion). It is also a criteria which may often be overlooked as somewhere that an internal auditor can add value to an organisation.
Values as a descriptor has the potential to create some confusion due to its proximity to the singular term, ‘value’. However, when talking about values I am not stepping back into the previously undefined space of ‘adding value’, I am instead referring to a benefit criteria which is focused on an individual, team or organisation’s values system.
This criteria is also the one area prone to the most significant change and requires an internal auditor to ensure that they remain knowledgeable and sufficiently skilled to support their employer or customer in achieving. This is because the values system of an organisation are highly likely to have changed massively in last five years alone.
I also believe that if approached in the correct fashion, it is the criteria where internal audit can continue to evolve in its approach the most and therefore has the potential to add the most value. This is because over the period of time that global, national or local values shift this is where the most significant changes in behaviours and therefore processes will be required. You can still save time and money for organisations as a result of these changes, but – an organisation that fails to implement systems supporting delivery of its key values, will face far greater reputational damage than an organisation whose processes do not make best use of its employee’s time, wasting resources as a result.
Reputational risks can have the biggest impact on an organisation if not appropriately mitigated so it is of key consideration to the internal audit team when developing the internal audit strategy.
What are we talking about when we use the term ‘values’ and why are these believed to have shifted so significantly in the past five years? Consider the list below and reflect how significant these topics were in your own workplace or personal beliefs five years previous:
- Environmental Social Governance (ESG)
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
- Geo-political inference in decision making
So, taking any of the examples on the list above, consider how many organisations strategic objectives have now aligned to one or more of these areas. As a result – organisations will also have action plans in place to demonstrate how they are delivering against these objectives. Yet how often, as an internal auditor, do you find that the first strategy or policy you review in your next assignment does not reflect the necessary changes to ensure that the organisation can deliver against its objective? It is here that internal auditors, in my opinion, have the greatest opportunity to truly ‘add value’ to the employer or customer.
Kevin Limn, Deputy Managing Director, TIAA