As I sit down to write my final “Editor’s Note” of the year, a new president has just been elected in the United States. The tension in the air is palpable. It’s the perfect ending to a year like no other.
From politics, to the unimaginable impact of COVID-19 on both our health and businesses, to social justice issues, people in the U.S. — and around the world — are struggling to … let’s just say it, maintain our sanity. Beyond coping with the massive changes in our personal lives, from serious illness, to home schooling, to working from home, those lucky enough to have kept their jobs are challenged with adding value despite epic disruptions.
Internal auditors have worked throughout 2020 to keep their functions operational and help their organizations conquer challenges that are beyond the scope of most business continuity plans. In “Perseverance in a Pandemic,” author Russell Jackson takes an in-depth look at how several audit functions are adding value to their organizations in unprecedented times. Agility and communication have been key.
Take for example Nora Kilani, assistant manager, Group Internal Audit, at Trust Holdings in Amman, Jordan, who says, “The moment traveling was no longer an option was the exact moment we had to be resilient enough not only to question how we do things, but also to take one step back and re-evaluate what we’re doing, what we’re focusing on, and how relevant it is to the current crisis.”
Not surprisingly, business continuity is one of the key risks identified in the 2021 IIA OnRisk report (see “Perspectives OnRisk”). Only 55% of the board member, executive, and chief audit executive respondents say they are highly confident in their organization’s capabilities to handle the risk. The report considers 10 additional risks facing organizations in 2021, including economic and political volatility and culture.
As protestors continue to fill the streets and social media in support of social justice, organizations are grappling with how to support true equity and inclusion. It’s easy for boards to pay attention to the diversity and inclusion issue now, but will they sustain that focus? In this issue’s “Board Perspectives,” author Matt Kelly considers the longer-term challenges for diversity and the role board directors play.
So, as I complete this note, I bid a not-so-fond farewell to a challenging and difficult (those words don’t seem adequate) 2020 and welcome with open arms the possibility of a better 2021. Hopefully, we will have learned from the tough lessons of 2020 and will be better prepared to adjust to whatever the “new normal” brings.