Ammara Tasnim, Head of Customer Experience and Quality Management at Ufone, explains the importance of understanding ethics, and of not compromising your values when you are auditing an organisation

Values are crucial for the success of an organisation. Values are not just a statement – they are the organisation’s founding principles and encompass the ethos of the organisation. It is up to business owners and managers to adopt or adhere to these principles, which will not only ensure success, but will ultimately provide longevity to their organisations.

Everything that needs to be done to achieve success in business revolves around integrity or honesty. When integrity is used in defining the organisation’s values, and processes are formed to apply its know-how, then there is no reason why the business will not meet success.

We can, equally, apply this principle to audit, as audit is an excellent tool to help business owners achieve their overall objective, provided that integrity is not compromised.

On one hand, businesses are sometimes economically dependent on large clients, and this may cause the auditor to compromise his/hers independence. On the other hand, there are auditors who have been given targets to manage and retain clients. They also have to look at the commercial aspects to keep their clients happy.

To address these challenges, it is imperative that the auditor has a good understanding of ethics in a broader context. It is far more important to realise that integrity report implies, not merely honesty, but fair dealing and truthfulness during the audit process.

In my experience as an auditor, be it a small business or a large corporation, the auditor has to make the client understand that the purpose of conducting the audit is not just limited to getting the client successfully through the certification process, but also to add value and improve the operations of the organisation. Auditors are always required to observe the principles of independence, integrity, objectivity, standards of professional conduct, and absolute honesty in their work. Knowing this, can change clients’ perspective towards audits.

It is the responsibility of the auditor to assure the client that, while suppressing and concealing audit evidence or influencing the auditor could get the client through the present audit successfully, the implications of doing this is likely to be damaging to the business. Not reporting an issue can damage the reputation of the client.

This is even more critical when it comes to internal audits, although auditors sometimes face resentment from colleagues or managers for reporting on improvement needs. To avoid this, it is important that the internal auditor is qualified to do the job and keeps up with the industry’s trends.

As you can’t hang a large board around your neck, declaring: “I have integrity”, you have to prove it and live it.

A good audit result isn’t a result that tells you everything is fine, when it’s not. A good audit result is one that reports with integrity what is being done well and where improvements can be made.

The audit industry should fully reflect the requirements of today’s businesses in a fast-paced world. Don’t get left behind by compromising on integrity.

About the author: Ammara Tasnim is Head of Customer Experience and Quality Management at Ufone, a Pakistani global system for mobile communication (GSM) mobile phone service provider.