With companies facing increasing pressure for the actions of every part of their supply chain, demand for – and reliance on – supplier/corporate social responsibility (CSR) audits conducted by third parties has grown rapidly.
But there is concern about the quality, reliability and credibility of these audits.
You Don’t Know What Your Suppliers Are Hiding
Companies rely on their CSR audit firm to utilize qualified auditors, employ adequate QA/QC processes and expend adequate time to conduct a reasonable audit. Yet there are no generally-accepted professional CSR audit practitioner standards. Moreover, due to cost pressures, lowest cost audit providers are frequently selected that may not have appropriate auditing skills or training – the largest CSR audit firms conduct tens of thousands of these audits each year. Increasing audit time and costs to improve quality or credibility is typically not realistic – the business model is inherently high-volume, low margin.
Are these audits effective at findings supplier actions that create risks for you? Can a company gain confidence in their CSR audits without adding costs? Is a change in auditors necessary?
Improve Credibility for Disclosures, Media and Customers
Changing audit firms is not necessary, nor is another layer of auditing. Instead, a formalized auditor training program can be a low cost yet effective solution.
The Elm Consulting Group International is expanding our well-proven auditor training program to companies who use CSR/supply chain auditors. The intent of this program is for brands to provide detailed communication and training to their current CSR/supply chain auditors about the company’s requirements for auditor competence, audit quality and processes in order to enhance the credibility of audit information.
Our formalized training for existing CSR auditors builds their client’s confidence in the quality of the work provided. The program is not intended to provide training on specific audit topics such as child labor or worker rights. Instead, the focus is on proven audit techniques such as:
- Understanding and applying professional skepticism
- Interviewing and active listening
- Identifying and responding to non-verbal cues within multi-cultural contexts
- Evidence sampling methodologies
- Using information from different sources
- Verification and recomputation techniques
- Judging audit evidence quality and limitations
- Fraud detection
- Using working papers and audit protocols
- Writing effective and complete audit findings
- Audit quality expectations, requirements and processes
- Maintaining auditor independence, including auditor rotation
Our Qualifications as The Leader in Auditor Training
Our HSE auditor training experience began in the 1980s and we have successfully trained hundreds of external and internal auditors. Elm Principals hold auditor certifications from the US Board of Environmental, Health and Safety Auditor Certification (BEAC, now wholly merged into the Institute of Internal Auditors) and UK Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment, are approved trainers for the IIA EHS auditor certification program and are subject to annual continuing education requirements ourselves. Further, Elm Principals have served in various Board positions in The Auditing Roundtable (merged into the IIA in 2016) and BEAC, including the current BEAC Chair. More information about our internal audit quality and auditor competence standards is available here.
Give us a call at 678-200-3424 or contact us via email to discuss how we can help you increase confidence in your CSR audits.