A tribute to the HR Audit Pioneers

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A tribute to the HR Audit Pioneers
by Marius Meyer

Since the launch of the HR Audit Unit in 2014, SABPP has been overwhelmed by the positive feedback throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Canada, United States of America, Saudi Arabia and Namibia.  We are proud of our achievement in growing and sustaining the HR Audit unit for another year.  I want to share a tribute to the HR Audit pioneers – those individuals and organisations who did pioneering work in getting us this far on the HR Standards and Audit journey. While we do indeed celebrate our successes, we are still mindful of current challenges such as inconsistent HR practices at various organisations as well as gaps in HR capacity-building in several industries.  We also realise that the concept of HR Audits is still relatively new world-wide and that more awareness regarding HR standards and audits is needed to ensure the audits become the norm and do not remain the exception. That is exactly the reason why I want to pay tribute to the early adopters and champions – you are all change agents and pioneers in marching ahead in unchartered territory.

When SABPP launched the first set of National HR Standards for South Africa and indeed the world in 2013, the HR Standard journey has progressed, not only within companies but also nationally and internationally.  The purpose of the National HR Standard was to reduce inconsistencies in HR practice, and to improve the overall quality of HR practice within companies and at a national level.  The National HR Standards have become an overnight success and already expanded to several African countries.

The HR Audit unit provides an independent centre of excellence for HR audits against the standards.  This is the first such national HR Audit unit in the world, and we are indeed proud of its establishment, growth and early successes.

I want to thank the HR audit pioneers for their leadership, innovation, support, encouragement, inputs and persistence in assisting SABPP to ensure a successful second year of national HR audits in South Africa:

  • Our Interim Audit Heads – Christine Botha and Dr Shamila Singh for their sterling work in developing, managing and building up the audit unit, including training the auditors and overseeing the audits;
  • Malebo Maholo, HR Audit Officer of SABPP for co-ordinating the work of the Audit Unit;
  • The SABPP Board for their excellent leadership in steering, strategizing, governing and resourcing the audit unit;
  • The SABPP Audit Council that was launched in the beginning of 2016 to establish and entrench sound governance of HR Audits, in particular I want to thank the Chairperson, Maropeng Sebothoma and Vice-chairperson, Advocate Nomsa Wabanie-Mazibuko for their leadership of the Audit Council;
  • Dr Michael Robbins from International Management of Risk in the UK for his guidance and support during the pre-audit period;
  • Dr Wilson Wong, Head of Insights at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), and the CEO of CIPD, Peter Cheese in the UK for their ongoing support and encouragement;
  • Dr Penny Abbott, SABPP Head of Research for her pioneering work, including the first audit assessment tool that we continued to use during the second year of HR audits;
  • Dr Chris Andrews, HR Director at Bond University in Australia for his visit to SABPP, and his continuous support in providing strategic and professional input in positioning HR standards and audits as a means to improving HR practice;
  • The hundreds of HR Leaders and facilitators in both the private and public sectors for their support in building capacity among HR teams in HR standards;
  • The first group of CEOs and HR executives for putting up your hands to be audited during the last year, you were not only brave, but true business and HR leaders in taking full responsibility for the quality of your HR systems and fully deserve your certification against the HR standards;
  • We are very proud of our pool of HR auditors responsible for auditing companies, you are at the centre of the auditing process and world leaders as national HR auditors;
  • While we have visited most of the large audit firms over the last year, the auditing firm Grant Thornton has become an early audit firm leader in embracing the HR standards and audits;
  • A special word of thanks to the presidents and others leaders of HR bodies in other countries, in particular in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia for their continuous support in positioning the HR standards and audits as transformative interventions to improve HR in their countries. The Executive Director of the Institute of People Management of Zimbabwe, Fortunate Sekeso has been the best country HR standards and audits leader in our neighbouring countries;
  • A number of alliance partners have emerged as HR standards leaders. The Institute of Municipal HR Practitioners (IMPSA) and the Association of Mining Industry HR Professionals (AMIHRP) have been excellent HR standards alliance partners for several years. Likewise, we also want to thank the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors (IRBA) for the positive engagement over the last year;
  • Our publication designers and social media partner, BCore for always being ready to design and share HR standards and audits publications using different forms of media;
  • The first HR Standards and Audits Awards Committee was launched last month. This year, now that we have built up a good track record in HR standards and audits, the time is right to issue our first annual awards. Thank you to this new committee in being the adjudicators for the awards and congratulations to the first recipients of the awards to be announced on 27 July 2016;
  • Our academics and post graduate students at universities have been key stakeholders in supporting SABPP with research, teaching and development work.

Lastly, I want to encourage more HR executives to request HR audits.  Now is the time to show confidence and leadership in raising the bar for the HR profession and the quality of HR practices. The HR standard was developed to improve HR functions and systems, and by exposing yourself to HR Audits will provide confidence to executive committees and boards that HR’s house is in order.  I trust that the second annual report to be released at the 4th Annual HR Standards Conference in Midrand on 28 July will provide you with sufficient information to join the HR standards and audits journey.  Alternatively, we will gladly visit your company to present this report to your HR or Management Executive teams.

It was a privilege to work with so many HR professionals, auditors, auditees and other stakeholders over the last year around the HR standards and audits.  In essence, all participants are authors of this report, because without you there would be nothing to report on.  For daily updates, please follow us on twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram: SABPP_1. This National HR Standards and Audit Journey is an evolving process of elevating the HR profession, not only within companies, but also nationally, and in certain cases internationally. With the release of the King IV™ Report in 2016 and its increased focus on assurance of non-financial reporting, the HR Audits are well positioned to add value to integrated reporting and combined assurance processes.   I thank and pay tribute to all the pioneers and I appreciate you for being part of this developmental success story in advancing the HR profession in South Africa and beyond our borders.

Marius Meyer

Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP. In 2014 he launched the world’s first National HR Audit Unit to audit organisations against the National HR Standards developed by SABPP. More information about the SABPP HR Standards is available on their website www.sabpp.co.za and their blog hrtoday.me

  For daily updates on HR Standards and HR Audits, follow SABPP on Twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram sabpp_1

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