When the CAE Is the Bearer of Bad News - and Gets Shot in the Process
Too many of my CAE-level (and other senior internal audit leaders) have shared with me stories of how they identified inappropriate activities, reported them to the audit committee, and found themselves out of a job within a year to 18 months.
Here is one story that I heard today:
On three occasions in my career I have left elevated (non CAE) positions with my employer. In each of these situations I firmly believed that something that the organization was doing was highly unethical and/or not in the best interest of the organization, placing it at risk. Two of the organizations actually admitted that what was being done was in direct violation of the organization’s policies and in one situation state employment laws. In one situation I had my exit meeting with HR, and in the other two organizations only with the CAE.
All CAEs recognize that this is a risk, and in my experience they all accept it with full knowledge that their career at their company may effectively end with the delivery of the bad news. It may take a while for management to find a way to organize a farewell party, and there may be some level of support (frequently not) from the audit committee, but the risk is real.
Leaving aside the issue of legal recourse, and the behaviors of executive management and the audit committees involved, do you believe that the IIA should do something to help CAEs and other internal audit leaders when this type of issue arises? Should there be an Ombudsman or other support person/group that is enabled by the IIA?
Posted on May 12, 2010 by Norman Marks
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