Monday, February 14, 2011

My Friend, Internal Audit

I spent most of January working with our Internal Audit team, which was focused on uncovering risks associated with our company's social compliance program. The goal of this exercise was to ensure that the company has adequate controls in place to manage the social and environmental risks of a global supply chain.

I'd never been part of the internal audit process to this extent before, since in previous positions I only was responsible for parts of the company's CSR programs. Usually, I was audited to make sure I had properly documented any contracts and kept records on file for the appropriate number of years.

This time, however, I feel like I was working with the audit team nearly every day for a month! I would spend hours with them explaining our program and why we've set it up the way we have, educating them on potential challenges of labor relations in developing countries and walking them through the mountains of paper that I keep semi-organized in gigantic file cabinets.

Some departments really resist the scrutiny that Internal Audit places on their work, but to me, it was a good validation that we had some strong processes in place and a lesson in uncovering areas where we need to improve. At the end of the day, the team was surprised that we have only one person managing all of this work and obliquely recommended that we add additional resources.  So in the end, it was a good exercise that will hopefully get me some help!

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