CBOK Report: Ethics and Pressure


Balancing the Internal Audit Profession

Internal auditors often face challenges to their judgment and to their core ethical values. How they handle those challenges determines the value of the profession. This report provides an overview of results from CBOK Practitioner Survey regarding ethics in internal auditing. It also provides a framework that can be used to analyze internal audit professional ethics and related pressures.

While all internal auditors are likely to face ethical pressures at some point during their careers, the CBOK practitioner survey data indicates that there are distinct differences in pressures on internal auditors in various regions across the globe. There are also differences in the strength of support for the function when internal auditors face ethical dilemmas.

Both the strength of ethical codes and internal audit responsibilities related to those codes have increased in the five years since the last CBOK survey was conducted, but the 2015 survey demonstrates that there are many ways in which the ethical environment can be improved. Too many organizations, especially in the public sector, do not have organizational codes of conduct or codes of ethics, and many internal auditors receive little or no training regarding The IIA’s Code of Ethics. Relatively few ethics audits are taking place and the data suggests that it may be difficult to perform an audit of the ethical environment if an organization does not have a code of ethics.

In an ideal environment, internal auditors should always be able to present findings without the threat of personal recrimination. Unfortunately, internal auditors do not always operate in such environments. Internal auditors who resist pressure to change their findings are at times subjected to negative consequences such as pay cuts, involuntary transfers to other positions, or even termination of employment.

The internal audit profession could not exist without a strong foundation based on a commitment to ethical conduct. The framework provided by this report demonstrates a clear need for all internal auditors to adopt The IIA’s Code of Ethics to help guide performance when they face ethical pressures.

Download the CBOK Report Ethics and Pressure

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