Hollywood certainly knows how to throw a party!! Watching the glitz and glamour of the 90th Oscars ceremony it is easy to immerse yourself in the history of Churchill, the fantasy of Coco or the drama and artistry of The Shape of Water. Although once more it reminded us of the realities that exist in all industries and walks of life, the need for inclusion, gender pay equality #timesup and an end to sexual harassment #metoo.
Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech referenced an ’inclusion rider’, bringing attention to a clause that actors can have written into their contract, which means a film’s cast must be diverse. It is designed to counter bias in the auditioning and casting process. What equivalents exist in your industry? How does your organisation minimise unconscious bias in recruitment? When did your function last audit the recruitment process? Diversity should be a boardroom priority…how is your function providing assurance on this?
By now all organisations, not just those required to report, should understand their position regarding gender pay gaps. Internal audit can provide assurance over accuracy and remedial plans but what about the root causes? In many organisations there is a cost challenge to bring parity; male actors have said they are willing to be paid less and at least six high profile BBC presenters took pay cuts after the organisation published its data.
And the world has taken notice of the #metoo campaign, encouraging anyone, not just women, to speak up about sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. There will be policies and value statements in all organisations but this along with the other issues is cultural. Does the culture where you work encourage openness and protect whistleblowers or does it protect those in positions of power and close down discussion?
Every auditor reading this should be looking at their audit plan for the year ahead and asking why not if these issues are not being tackled. Talk about them as a team, how can they be inter-weaved into the audits that are on the plan, build a case for adding at least one. Work your relationships; challenge your audit lead, your head of audit, your audit committee chair…
The Oscars are a celebration of incredible talent and the movies they create provide us with a few hours of escapism, as we immerse ourselves into their world. And then we’re back to reality, back to work, back to what we know, because it’s always been that way.
When Rachel Shenton signed while she gave her acceptance speech for The Silent Child it brought it home that inclusion should not be something we applaud or feel moved by…it should be something ordinary not so extraordinary.