International Social/Sustainability Audit Standard Firm Gets Black Eye

As reported in, UK-based AccountAbility – the creator of the AA1000 sustainability standard – is facing claims that it its independence as an auditing organization is threatened.  The firm provides research and consulting services in addition to its standards business.

In the wake of these claims, the firm’s entire council and standards board resigned.

EnvironmentalLeader’s article states:

The controversy continued yesterday as social auditors, who helped to create AccountAbility’s A100 ethical standard for business, wrote an open letter expressing their concerns.

“AccountAbility’s stewardship up until 2010, while not perfect, was founded on an inclusive and multi-stakeholder governed approach,” the auditors wrote.

“Since 2010 there have been a number of events in relation to governance and management at AccountAbility that have caused us to become deeply concerned for the future and integrity of the standards,” they added.

[AccountAbility director Karl] Pfalzgraf said some non-profits don’t like AccountAbility’s engaging in business consulting. But, Pfalzgraf said, “If you’re serious about effecting change in the world and you don’t engage with corporate – who are you kidding? You’ve got to be out there in the trenches, getting your hands dirty.

In a world with increasing demands for transparency, auditor independence is critical.  In a demonstration of our commitment to maintain auditor independence, Elm recently announced its voluntary withdrawal from a contract with an electronics trade association.  Read that article here.




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