5 minute read 10 Oct 2019
Tone at the top - Conceptual illustration

Why quality starts at the top of the organization

By

Don Zimmerman

EY Global Assurance Vice Chair, Professional Practice

Global Assurance and audit leader. Extensive world traveler and wine enthusiast. Husband, runner, golfer.

5 minute read 10 Oct 2019

EY leaders have established a culture based on a commitment to quality, an emphasis on values and teaming, and a global mindset.

A commitment to audit quality starts at the top of the organization. EY leaders set a clear tone from the top by establishing and maintaining a culture based on a commitment to quality, an emphasis on values, a global mindset and a focus on the importance of teaming to create the right breadth and depth of skills.

This is the reason that tone at the top is the first pillar of the Sustainable Audit Quality program and why so much emphasis is placed on consultation, collaboration and communications. Cascading the appropriate tone is a vital role for those in leadership positions, who regularly reinforce the importance of performing quality work, complying with professional standards, adhering to policies and leading by example.

While the tone at the top is vital, EY people also understand that quality and professional responsibility start with them. All EY people are held accountable for the quality of their work, including leaders and professionals from other service lines who execute audits.

Those in leadership positions regularly reinforce the importance of performing quality work, complying with professional standards, adhering to policies and leading by example.

The EY approach is based on shared values involving:

  • People who demonstrate integrity, respect and teaming
  • People with energy, enthusiasm and the courage to lead
  • People who build relationships based on doing the right thing

These values and the commitment to audit quality are embedded in everything the organization does.

Every two years, the EY organization conducts a Global People Survey. The most recent survey, conducted in 2019, found that 86% of people in the Assurance service line agreed that EY has created an inclusive environment where people with diverse backgrounds and experiences can succeed. This is an increase of four percentage points compared to the previous comparable survey, which was conducted in 2017.

Culture

The EY culture strongly supports collaboration and emphasizes the importance of consultation when dealing with complex or subjective accounting, auditing, reporting, regulatory and independence matters.

Culture plays a large part in defining an organization. A positive and healthy culture means people feel engaged and supported, free to speak up and be themselves at work. Recognizing the importance of a strong culture, EY leadership commissioned a Global Culture Assessment to understand the views of EY people.

Inclusive culture

86%

of people in the Assurance service line agreed that EY has created an inclusive environment where people with diverse backgrounds and experiences can succeed. (Global People Survey 2019)

The assessment was concluded in early 2019, with more than 24,000 people from the Assurance service line sharing their opinions on what they value personally, how they experience EY’s culture, and what attributes they think are necessary to achieve the greatest potential. To help drive change management and instill expected behaviors, the EY organization has identified and is promoting four key behaviors that reflect the EY culture: serving the public interest; trust and integrity; a curious and questioning mindset; and high-performing teams.

Ethics and integrity

The EY approach to business ethics and integrity is contained in the EY Global Code of Conduct and other policies, and is embedded in training programs, internal communications and the EY culture of consultation.

The EY culture strongly supports collaboration and emphasizes the importance of consultation when dealing with complex or subjective matters.

All auditors at EY member firms around the world are required to confirm compliance with the Global Code of Conduct each year. This discusses how EY people work with one another and the companies audited, act with professional integrity, maintain objectivity and independence and protect confidential information.

The guiding principle is that no client is more important than professional reputation – the reputation of the EY organization and that of each EY auditor.

Summary

Don Zimmerman, EY Global Vice Chair, Professional Practice, explains that the internal and external messages sent by EY leadership, including audit partners, establish and encourage a culture based on a commitment to quality, a dedication to continuous improvement, an emphasis on values, a global mindset and the importance of teaming. By doing this, they set a clear tone at the top.

About this article

By

Don Zimmerman

EY Global Assurance Vice Chair, Professional Practice

Global Assurance and audit leader. Extensive world traveler and wine enthusiast. Husband, runner, golfer.