If you are trying to get initial Board or Senior Management approval for an environmental auditing programme or are under fire to justify the value of your current auditing, a new briefing paper from the UK’s Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) could help.
This article looks at the potential problems in gaining Senior Management or, even Board -level approval, to start or maintain an environmental auditing programme.
A new IEMA Senior Management Briefing can provide the catalyst to unlock and enhance Director and Senior Management commitment to harness the value of auditing, whether Internal Audits or External Audits undertaken by Certification Bodies.
Three Key Selling Points
The Briefing Paper offers the key benefits that will be available to Directors and Senior Management through their leadership and commitment to generate the maximal value from auditing. These three points will be your main “selling” points:
- With opportunities to drive improvement by identifying the root causes of poor performance
- Thereby, gaining strategic and tactical insights into the performance underlying key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Reassurance can be given by providing updates on compliance status with legal requirements & other commitments
- And, finally, holistically, confirming the effectiveness of the environmental & sustainability strategy
Leadership & Commitment
So, what can Directors and Senior Management do to provide to demonstrate their leadership and commitment. Here, you can emphasis the key interactions between Senior Management and staff, such as:
- Identifying opportunities for improving operational efficiency, delivering significant financial returns
- Helping organisations avoid environmental incidents or failures of compliance, with consequent costs and reputational damage
- Encouraging good performance, helping to achieve corporate objectives and raising the profile of the organisation, its products and services
- Communicate to all staff involved in audits, whether as the Auditor or Auditee, the importance of their contributions to environmental performance
- Recognise the confidence in the reliability of environmental performance metrics reported externally And, the benefit of reduced demands on management time by promoting good performance and negating the need for management intervention
Moving on to the specifics of Internal Auditing, the Briefing Paper provides a summary statement, that:
“Internal environmental audit programmes contribute to all of the above listed benefits and values through a regular schedule of risk-based audits, focusing on areas of high priority. They provide ongoing insights into organisational performance, allowing action to be initiated promptly where necessary”.
The Briefing Paper then covers the necessary conditions to harness the maximal benefits from Internal Auditing. Here, are the factors that Senior Managers will need to support to ensure the effectiveness of internal audits:
- Having sufficient number of competent, registered auditors, to ensure that the full range of the internal audit delivery can be serviced
- That those Auditors are allowed to apply their judgement to ensure the audit findings are relevant and add value
- With the Auditors being given adequate time for carrying out audits, so that they are not rushed or hurried & can generate real value for Senior Management
- And, finally, senior management can provide leadership by giving recognition that environmental audits are an important element of business management
In addition to selling the value of Internal Audits, the Briefing paper describes the benefits of audits carried out by Certification Bodies, where:
“External certification audits can provide assurance to stakeholders that an organisation has an EMS that meets the requirements of ISO 14001 and also supports its own environmental strategy”.
In order to gain the benefits from Certification Body audits, it is important to recognise actions that can be taken to maximise this value-add:
- Choose a UKAS-accredited certification body with a background and track record with an understanding of your business sector, so that its Auditors truly understand the business and can command respect during the audit as equals in this process
- Ensure your dialogue with the Certification Body allows for the selection of environmentally knowledgeable, competent, registered auditors. Again, with genuinely qualified and experienced Auditors, who can bring their expertise to add value to the audit
- Work on the relationship to allow for the mutual understanding of the key issues and where to focus audit effort
- And, finally, ensure that all findings are reported in a clear and transparent format to gain the optimal “buy-in” by management at all levels
Further resources are available from the IEMA covering The Value of Environmental Auditing & Ten Golden Rules of Remote Auditing, which are aimed at Auditors. The first document looks at the Auditor’s role in generating the optimum value from the audit and the second document provides guidance on remote auditing, which is in much need in 2021.
Don’t forget that our articles on How to add value to Environmental Auditing, which provides a good introduction to value-add auditing for Auditors, Environmental Managers and Consultants by clicking here as well as What is Remote Auditing, where we look at the strategies and tactics for establishing remote auditing.
So, to summarise:
The IEMA Briefing Paper provides a sound foundation for the briefing of the Directors and Senior Management on the benefits of Internal Audits and external Certification Body audits as well as the leadership and commitments that they can make to provide a culture where auditing is recognised and supported for the benefits that it can bring to their role and the growth of their organisation. You can download a copy here.
If this article has helped to advance your understanding of the value of auditing and how to open up the dialogue with your Director’s and Senior Managers, please leave a comment in the box below, if this episode has help you.
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