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Women Make Impact in Internal Audit but Face Challenges

Survey reveals how women navigate and achieve success in the profession

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla, Sept. 13, 2016 –Women are making advances in the internal audit profession, particularly in North America. But many still perceive themselves as lacking in core competencies and technical specialties, according to the latest report from The Global Internal Audit Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK) Practitioner Survey.

“Women in Internal Auditing: Perspectives from Around the World,” announced today by The Internal Audit Foundation, shows that men continue to dominate internal auditing globally, accounting for 69 percent of chief audit executives (CAEs) at publicly held companies. Women also are in the minority among lower-level positions – except in North America, where women hold a slight advantage (51 percent) among non-CAEs.

More than 5,400 women, or 38 percent of total responses, participated in the global CBOK survey conducted by The Internal Audit Foundation, formerly known as The IIA Research Foundation.

The gender gap was found to be more pronounced at each successive level of internal audit management, according to the survey. Globally, women represent 33 percent of directors or senior managers, 34 percent of managers, and 44 percent of internal audit staff. The larger gap at the CAE level may be driven by a variety of factors, including more women than men leaving the workforce to pursue other priorities, according to the report.

Other findings of the survey:

  • Women self-assess themselves lower than men do in 10 core internal audit competencies, with the largest gaps in business acumen and internal audit management.
  • Half of female CAEs work in smaller internal audit departments, or those with three or fewer full-time employees.
  • There do not appear to be any overwhelmingly male- or female-dominated industries in internal auditing overall, though 52 percent of CAEs in educational services are women.
  • 29 percent of women reported no additional areas of specialization, compared with 22 percent of men.

“Throughout my career as an internal auditor, I’ve seen first-hand the valuable contributions women offer both within their organizations and to the internal audit profession generally,” said current IIA Global Chairman Angela Witzany, CIA QIAL, CRMA, Head of Internal Audit at Sparkassen Versicherung AG in Vienna, Austria. “As a global profession, we need to continue to enhance support of and training for women, so that they can continue to grow their skills and assume leadership roles. Organizations that value gender diversity benefit from a range of perspectives that can improve their ability to identify and address strategic risks.”

To download a copy of “Women in Internal Auditing: Perspectives from Around the World,” visit here.