It's official; the IIA's first Environmental, Health & Safety Exchange was a success!
The conference, held in Washington, D.C., September 28–29, offered attendees a wealth of information on the latest regulatory developments along with techniques to manage the changes. Keynote topics from regulators and leaders in the auditing profession engaged the audience in discussion on how the regulatory trend is to go beyond compliance. The focus was on managing EHS issues with a proactive, preventive strategy rather than reactive enforcement driven by penalties. This approach makes the role of the EHS auditor one of a trusted adviser with skills to advance the organization's sustainability movement and not just a monitor to "keep us out of trouble."
Concurrent sessions offered a combination of audit practices and soft skill development. In the format of roundtable discussions (building on the legacy of the Auditing Roundtable (AR)), these sessions created an intimate environment to allow for free-flow discussion of the topic and provide greater engagement by the attendees. This format is a great way to get to know more about fellow attendees and connect the presenters to the audience. I expect the EHS Exchanges of the future will always incorporate this element in the meeting agenda.
No conference would be complete without networking with new and seasoned colleagues. This being the first conference offered after the merger of the AR and The IIA, we were pleased to see many previous AR members — now IIA members — along with new faces from both internal audit and the EHS profession. It was a good snapshot of what the future holds for the growing relationship between internal audit and EHS auditing.
Reflecting on the variety of presentations offered at the EHS Exchange, it struck me that the underlying message to emerge out of the conference was that EHS auditing is much more than compliance. The profession is evolving toward EHS auditors being trusted advisers who are capable of helping an organization go beyond regulatory compliance and plan strategically for a sustainable future.
Mark your calendars for January 9–10, 2017, when we have our next opportunity to continue the conversation at the EHS Exchange–West Coast meeting at the Westin-San Diego. We welcome everyone in auditing to join us as we bridge the gap between the traditionally separate functions of EHS and internal auditing. It is a natural fit, as everyone is recognizing the growing risks of not seeing what is around the corner, no matter what form that risk takes.
About the Author:
Tammy Wyche is director of The IIA's Environmental, Health & Safety Center. Her experience includes more than 20 years at Konica Minolta Photo Imaging, USA, where she served as environmental manager for 15 years. In that role, she dealt with regulatory issues across North and Central America, the Caribbean, and the European Union. Wyche also has strong credentials in professional development and marketing, including substantial work in government relations and community engagement. She holds a bachelor's degree in environmental and public health from the University of Wisconsin and has extensive education in environmental and safety law.