Last week, The IIA successfully hosted its annual Global Council where delegates from more than 80 countries assembled in Japan. While there, I learned that emojis originated in Japan. In fact, the word “emoji” comes from the Japanese for “picture” e+ “character” moji. As one who uses emojis with increasing frequency, I have been thinking light-heartedly about how our profession might use them.
Granted, internal auditors are a serious bunch. The work we do is steeped in integrity, honesty, and independence. In the view of many — both inside and outside the profession — internal audit often serves as the conscience of the organization. This is an awesome responsibility that most of us eagerly take to heart.
It is not surprising then that internal audit practitioners can come across as solemn, grave, and even dour. These descriptions are inaccurate, of course, but I wonder if we don’t do enough to dispel the myth of the humorless internal auditor. I like to joke that many of us firmly believe that 1,000 words are worth a picture, and that behind every silver lining is a dark cloud. Sometimes, it can be healthy to sit back and take a light-hearted look at ourselves.
I recently sent my director of human resources (HR) a text message and concluded with an emoji. She responded with, “Who are you, and what have you done with Richard Chambers? He would never use an emoji!”
Actually, I like them. I find they can often sum up my feelings with a single keystroke.
After the skeptical response from my HR director, I began wondering which emojis would get the most use by internal auditors — that is, if we could let our guard down, lighten up, and use them. Here are 10 that I think would get the most use if internal auditors could sum up what we are really feeling with a single emoji:
When we tell management, “We are here to help you.”
When management responds with, “and, we are glad to have you.”
When management responds to your draft report by disagreeing with everything.
When you return for a follow-up audit and discover everything has been corrected.
When you return for a follow-up audit and discover that nothing has been corrected.
When management pushes back on an audit announcement by telling you that you and your colleagues don’t have the expertise to audit their area.
When you are trying to employ critical thinking skills to identify the cause of an audit finding.
When you realize that management simply cut and pasted the same response they sent you after the last audit report.
When management agrees with your draft audit report with no changes.
When you get your first request from management to come into their area to assist them. Bonus emoji:
When management finally acknowledges you are a trusted advisor.
I hope you enjoyed this amusing look at our profession. While we all take seriously the important work we do, we also must be aware that our success is built as much on the relationships we create and nurture.
Richard Chambers, CIA, CFE, CGFM, QIAL, CRMA, CGAP, is the founder and Chief Executive of Richard F. Chambers and Associates, LLC. From 2009-2021 he served as the president and CEO of The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the global professional association and standard-setting body for internal auditors. Chambers has more than four decades of experience serving in and on behalf of the internal audit profession.