Women In Auditing

Our guest blog contributor this week is Amanda Evans. Amanda has been auditing regulatory requirements and certification standards for the past 18 years. According to Amanda, auditing certification standards have been long recognised as a male dominated profession, but she believes this is changing.

Currently 27% of auditors registered with RABQSA are female, but do female auditors experience challenges that their male counterparts do not face in the audit situation? The results may or may not surprise you.

One of the biggest challenges faced by female auditors is having to juggle the commitments of family and auditing. The opportunity to travel is limited when family responsibilities come into play. Although there may be a supportive partner who shares the parental load, it is unlikely that a female auditor can be away from the family for extended periods of time. This inability to engage in extended travel may also impact on the type and quantity of audits that female auditors can actively undertake. In addition, for female auditors who work part-time, the opportunity to participate in multiday audits may also be limited.

The challenge of work-life balance in auditing is not just constrained to travel requirements but also when audits are undertaken locally. Audit durations may be decreased due to child-care responsibilities and the ability to continue auditing late into the night is not always a viable option. This impacts directly on the intensity or pressure that a female auditor may feel; having to get through more in less time. Allocating time to report writing usually comes well after family and child-care duties have been completed.

Another challenge faced by female auditors is having to manage the attitude expressed by auditees, especially if the auditee is an older male. One of the most common concerns reported is having to constantly justify audit and industry knowledge and experience. This is more prevalent when the female auditor is younger than the male auditee, or when auditing takes place in traditionally male dominated industries. Grilling the auditor on their industry background, how long they have been an auditor and where they have worked is common place.

A secondary concern reported is having to deal with, and manage, aggressive behaviour. Such behaviour includes the auditee constantly disputing information that is requested, and/or disagreeing with the findings and observations the auditor communicates. In some cases this is used as a tactic to try and un-nerve the auditor, in other situations it is seen to purely waste time. When this happens, the auditor has to spend additional time communicating and justifying the rationale behind a finding.

This style of aggression can also be highly frustrating and exhausting for the female auditor. If emotional reactions are not controlled adequately, audit credibility may be jeopardised. The challenge for female auditors is to stay on track, to have strength in their credibility not take adverse behaviours as personal. Are we up to it ladies? You bet your lipstick we are!

Visit www.haccpmentor.com for more information about Amanda’s work.