​Preserving the Company Brand

Internal audit should have a front seat in assessing the organization’s reputational risk, says Sharon Grant, vice president of customer contact and former managing director at United Airlines.

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​As a long-time airline employee, what have you learned about addressing reputational risk?

You must be quick to learn, admit mistakes, improve, and evolve. In today’s environment, every experience is lived, felt, and shared on social media. A high level of active engagement is needed to ensure that if we make mistakes, we are quick to fix them. This is a responsibility of everyone in the organization, and the accountability for owning the management of these risks is important to preservation of the company’s brand. Internal audit can serve a vital role in driving high accountability.

What should internal auditors do to assess reputational risk?

Maintain credibility by being completely objective. Foundationally, internal auditors should be continually advancing, broadening, and elevating their skills to understand the threats the environment could have on reputation. Tactically, internal auditors should assess the current risk management structure and evaluate the specificity by which risk to reputation is built into the design of controls, as well, in the reporting of the effectiveness of business functions. Because of their objectivity, internal auditors are well-positioned to harness data and analytics to add value to the reputational-risk assessment process.

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