Checking Culture: a new role for internal audit



The financial crisis and a series of scandals at non-financial companies have prompted regulators and investors to focus on culture as a significant risk to corporate health. Boards, too, are increasingly concerned to embed a sound corporate culture to protect and enhance their company's ability to generate sustainable value.

The corporate leadership team thus need to know whether the culture they have got is actually the one they want. Internal audit can help through its work on assurance. Yet this poses some big challenges for a profession that works by measuring things and where many practitioners believe that culture cannot be measured.

This IBE Board Briefing draws on the experience of those actually involved at senior level in six companies drawn from a wide range of sectors and sizes. Audit Committee chairs, head of internal audit and heads of ethics and compliance recount in their own words how they have approached the challenge of checking culture.

The result is a publication which should be of practical help to others. There is still a long way to go before companies and internal auditors take on board the opportunities as well as the risks inherent in the way companies build and embed their culture. This Board Briefing shows, however, that much can and is being done.