Does Internal Audit Have a Gender Issue?

We were asked this week to present on the topic of “does Internal Audit have a gender problem?”  (we changed the title of this post because we thought the question pre-supposed that there was something that needed to be addressed).

Whilst we couldn’t attend due to other commitments the question – as we suspect it was meant to be – left its impression and today we are going to vainly try to answer the hypothesis.

So does Internal Audit have a gender issue?

It probably is not too much of a stretch to say that the question is suggesting that there is some type of barrier for women to be equally represented in the Internal Audit corridors.

For the avoidance of all doubt, we are firmly of the view that there is no gender pre-requisite to being a good auditor.  

You are a good auditor because of your skills; your dedication; your inquisitiveness and your experience.  

Gender has absolutely nothing to do with that and – to be honest – we would be very cautious of any organisation that only wanted a man (or a woman) and was indifferent to those underlying and much more important characteristics.

Having said that we thought we would further examine the data to see whether reality matches principle.

Not surprisingly there is no publicly available gender designated database of auditors that we can reference to draw out any conclusions … or is there …

We turned to that trusty of trusty self regulated databases called LinkedIn and did the most basic of assessments.

If there wasn’t a gender issue our guess would be that randomly selected common (albeit for this test, Western) names would be equally represented. 

Here are our results using the search phrase “Internal Audit (name)” in our extended (to third degree and Groups level) network

  1. Jane – 2,438 
  2. John – 18,097

There could be – and are – many flaws no doubt in our logic but try as we might the same or similar split occurred.

Why is this the case?

Is Internal Audit somehow less attractive to women?

Is Internal Audit not well structured to (re)attract women re-entering the workforce?

Are there not enough senior Internal Audit women role models?

On that point we thought we would check the history of women Chairman of the Global Board of the Institute of Internal Auditors.

We start on a very good note – the current Chairman of the Global Board of the IIA is Angela Witzany, Head of Internal Audit at Sparkassen Versicherung AG in Austria.

Alas one look at the 2015-2016 Board of Directors (and again for the avoidance of all doubt this is not a commentary on the competency of very good people) shows the gender split is 2 women – 9 gentlemen which is only slightly better (18% compared to 13%) than our unscientific survey.

So what can be done about the gender problem (yes we are now using that word deliberately)?

We are actually not sure what the answer is.

More flexible work arrangements – yes most definitely.

More senior Internal Audit role models – yes most definitely.

Our guess is that we need to continue to sell Internal Audit for what it is – a fascinating and very rewarding career choice that is gender neutral; a career choice that values experience; a learning pathway that opens up as many avenues as one seeks to find.

And may we never rest until that day when all people (woman or man) that wants to join internal audit are afforded the opportunity to do so.

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