Auditing the Image

Auditing the Image – Brief Article

THERE ARE A MILLION JOKES FLOATING AROUND ABOUT INTERNAL AUDITORS and, if you’ve been in the profession for more than 10 minutes, you’ve heard most of them. The wisecracks and witticisms started with the first auditor and continue today, reflecting the same poor industry image prevalent years ago: The internal auditor is an accountant without a sense of humor; the guy nobody wants to go to lunch with. Even a recent Dilbert cartoon took pot shots at the profession, calling the internal audit department a “sadist’s paradise.” And, how many times have you had to explain that you don’t work for the Internal Revenue Service? But, all that has to change.

One reason for the transformation is that internal auditing itself has changed; the image of the profession just hasn’t caught up yet. As reflected in the new definition of internal auditing, auditors are now part of the process, not simply a business afterthought. As a modern practitioner, you are involved in every aspect of the organizational culture from the financial to the technological. You are business counselors, coaches, and consultants. In addition, recent actions by such groups as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the General Accounting Office, and the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Organization indicate positive change for the profession.

The informed businessperson and the practicing auditor know that Dilbert is not reality. The challenge, however, is ensuring that the true value of internal auditing is recognized across the board. The IIA has already taken the lead with its current Strategic Directives, which strongly focus on promoting the profession. Perhaps the next step is for you, the internal auditor, to change the way you see yourself and what you bring to your organization.

As an integral part of the corporate team, striving to keep your company prosperous and profitable, can you find ways to better promote the value of your services to your customers, management, and governance bodies? It’s time to try new ideas and to work proactively to improve the profession’s image. Creative thinking isn’t new to internal auditing, although it’s an idea that’s not readily associated with the process. In “The Art of Auditing” (see page 28), Lawrence Metzger points out that “creativity is an inherent aspect of successful internal auditing.” Beginning on page 34, The IIA’S new chairman, Jacquie Wagner, general auditor of General Motors Corporation, talks about some of her department s new ways of looking at old problems.

Larry Sawyer once wrote a poem about the internal auditor of the future as someone who will keep up “…with management, with what is good and new…a problem-solving analyst….” The father of modern internal auditing penned this vision for the profession 30 years ago. What role will you play in making it a reality today?


Editor in Chief

COPYRIGHT 2000 Institute of Internal Auditors, Inc.

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