Reputation management: Internal audit on the front lines – Canadian Government Executive

NEWS

SEARCH

AccountabilityAuditManagement
January 14, 2015

Reputation management: Internal audit on the front lines

An organization’s reputation can take years to build but it can be destroyed by just one control breakdown, scandal or other unanticipated incident.

In this context, the Institute of Internal Auditors Canada held a leadership symposium in October to discuss how internal audit should be leveraged for reputation management.

Speakers included experts on the topics of crisis management and leadership excellence as well as a stellar panel of senior officials from the public and private sector, all of whom had successfully navigated complex challenges of reputation management. Executives and audit committee members from Public Safety Canada and the Public Security Integrity Commissioner joined private sector leaders from Loblaw Canada, Toronto Hydro and the University of Toronto to debate some key issues:

• What are the key imperatives facing executives in the area of reputation management?
• Is Internal Audit strategically positioned to add value in this area?
• Do our audit leaders and executives have what it takes – in terms of professional practice and personal courage – to get ahead of the issues that threaten reputations?

The symposium began and ended with superb keynote speakers: Jaime Watt, executive chairman of Navigator, and Vince Molinaro, global managing director of the Leadership Practice for Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions.

All the experts agreed that public trust in leadership is eroding. Governments everywhere struggle to proactively manage their reputations. Yet inherent challenges exist: risk aversion works against efforts to proactively get ahead of threats that can damage reputations. At the same time, the ever-present media, an increasingly engaged and cynical public, and the rise of social media has put pressure on organizations to be more transparent. In this context, leaders and audit committees need trusted advisors who will give them the “straight goods” and help them to navigate the complex world of reputation management.

Worried? Look no further than your internal auditors. The senior panel of public and private sector leaders and audit committee members outlined the multi-faceted value proposition of internal audit from a reputation management perspective:

• Oversight: Independent and unbiased, internal audit provides senior leaders with comfort that their management practices are well designed and effective. In this way, internal audit forms part of the organization’s “conscience” and is a powerful resource that can be drawn upon to contribute to public trust and to safeguard reputations. Through their work, internal audit can demonstrate that the systems of oversight, accountability and control are working as intended to achieve objectives.

• Insight: Internal audit’s ability to access information and people, and to “connect the dots” on important questions of risk gives deputy heads unique insights into the areas of governance, risk management and control. As critical enablers of management excellence and accountability, these practices ultimately help to protect the organization’s reputation.

• Foresight: Through the provision of objective, reliable and relevant advice and guidance on complex management issues, internal audit provides senior leaders with early warning signs of risk and control weaknesses, allowing them to proactively address them before they threaten their organization’s reputation.

Notwithstanding the many benefits resulting from internal audit, the panel also noted that it can equally pose a risk to reputations. This is particularly the case given federal and some provincial legislative obligations to post internal audit reports on the internet. So while the audits can be valuable to senior management, if the reports don’t provide sufficient context for the findings or are not written in a balanced manner, noting both strengths and weaknesses, when scrutinized by the public, they can be easily misconstrued. Similarly, if the reports and analysis are not focused on the key risks to the organization, important potential reputational risks may be missed, limiting the “early warning” signs that leaders so critically need.

For their part, public sector executives need to be open-minded to the value internal audit can bring and be courageous enough to have frank and meaningful discussions on issues of risk and control. Working together, chief audit executives and deputy heads must put strategies in place to strategically and constructively position internal audit in a way that helps to manage the “downside” risks and seize the “upside” opportunities. This will help to ensure that internal audit is helping to safeguard the organization’s reputation and contributing to increasing public trust and confidence in the public sector.

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Accountability
 
In this episode, hear from Carl Hammersburg, Manager, Government and Healthcare...
 
A new study from the Conference Board of Canada gives our...
 
In the world that we are living in today, free and...
 
The delivery method developed by Sir Michael Barber, chief adviser to...
 
Rules and accountability are helpful in developing and standardizing processes but...
 
Canadian doctors were told that climate change impacts human health and...
 
Even as talks between the government and federal workers affected problems...
 
The largest effort in 20 years to seek public input on...
 
Ottawa has overhauled the process by which justices are picked for...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
In this episode, editor-in-chief, Patrice Dutil talks about the need for...
 
Upon receiving numerous complaints regarding add-on fees that turn making economy...
 
Are you absolutely clear what the government wants to achieve? Are...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Written By Jason McNaught The Public Service Alliance of Canada was...
 
Independence has long been regarded as a cornerstone of the auditing...
 
Canada is a diverse nation, in language, culture, geography, and, ultimately,...
 
Public sector organizations are under increasing pressure to identify all risks...
 
The government of Canada has implemented several measures over the past...
 
Whether at the territorial, provincial or federal government level, internal audit...
 
An organization’s reputation can take years to build but it can...
 
On October 30, Ontario began second reading of the Public Sector...
 
In the well-known children’s story, an Emperor falls victim to the...
 
The Nova Scotia Office of the Ombudsman is a small operation...
 
I think the ombudsman needs to be independent, because without independence...
 
Today’s business environment changes rapidly to adjust to evolving conditions and...
 
The best internal auditors actually are really good managers first. I...
 
The recent controversy about the actions of some staff members in...
 
Most professionals don’t need more than a sentence at a cocktail...
 
Recent research by the Institute of Internal Auditors Canada aims to...
 
When is it that a politician becomes part of the governing...
 
It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the information, privacy...
 
In 1996, a new budget watchdog, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, was...
 
The Ontario government is moving forward with the creation of a...
 
The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada (PSIC)...
 
After the Auditor General’s (AG) report was released on April 30,...
 
In the U.K. system, Permanent Secretaries are what we call Deputy...
 
We are living in a period of rapid change and limited...
 
US public sector employees don’t trust their management to do the...
 
The news of Mark Carney’s nomination as the new Governor of...
 
Following Singapore’s independence in 1965, the controversial leadership of Lee Kuan...
 
Over the past few years, the preparation and delivery of the...
 
In healthcare, cost-cutting can result in cutting what is valued most...
 
For over 20 years Colin Bennett has been exploring issues of...
 
Even before controversy shook the organization to its foundation, Ornge was...
 
It will be the largest international multi-sport event ever held on...
 
We’ve all seen the headlines – BC Ferries, Ornge, la Caisse...
 
It can happen, and it’s noteworthy when it does. Government, business...
 
Kevin Page’s mandate as the first Parliamentary Budget Officer comes to...
 
Governments are challenged to meaningfully mitigate the effects of the financial...
 
Canada is facing a huge financial challenge brought on by massive...
 
For the past one hundred years, democratic states have been moving...
 
It’s so much easier and less painful to learn from the...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 "If the Public Service, as a...
 
When pondering leadership, we immediately think of exercising our influence downward...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.1 January 2007 "How can I be held accountable...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 Canada’s Performance 2006 is the sixth...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.1 January 2008 The furor over the $300,000 that...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.2 February 2008 Let’s say you’re a senior manager,...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.1 January 2007 Perhaps it’s a legacy of the...
 
The Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grants and Contributions called for...
 
Au Canada, le secteur bénévole et à but non lucratif vit...
 
As the global economy struggles to regain some forward momentum, Canadian...
 
This will be a defining budget for Stephen Harper. It will...
 
It is difficult to determine when the debate about the need...
 
For the next few years, the federal government’s overarching agenda will...
 
Much of the current conversation about the federal government’s economic agenda...
 
Bill Greenlaw is the elected president of the Institute for Public...
 
Have you ever asked yourself the question: ‘How would I evaluate...
 
Last fall, Alberta’s Employment and Immigration department posted online the workplace...
 
In 2006 the world was feeling the aftershocks of a number...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 Robert Parkins, editorial director, met recently...
 
In the past two decades, the nature of the state has...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
In this episode, hear from Carl Hammersburg, Manager, Government and Healthcare...

Member Login

Forgot Password?

Join Us

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.