Column: The Problems With Many Corporate Audits
Many companies have policies in place that specify the frequency of their internal environmental audits. Once a year or every other year, a company does an internal audit or hires external auditors to do it.
When a company has a major chemical accident, investigative bodies such as the US Chemical Safety Board looks into the causes of the accident. More often than not, these investigative bodies discover that internal audits had identified the root cause of these accidents.
And, yet, the facility still blew up and killed hundreds of workers. Why is that? Why didn’t senior management pay heed to the warning signs highlighted in the audit reports?
There are basically several underlying reasons.
The first reason is that many corporate auditors look for “consistent” audits. They want to see consistency year after year. Yet, good audits are never consistent. At a recent conference of auditors, many environmental managers said they wanted the same old external auditors to do their audits every year in order to get “consistent” results. They didn’t want to spend time explaining their manufacturing process to a new external auditor. They wanted someone who is very familiar with their operation.