Auditing the Soft Stuff: Firms Step up to the "Touchy-Feely"

Auditing has taken on a new meaning as firms are called upon more and more to audit more than just the financials. Take BP Amoco, for instance. They called upon Ernst & Young Environmental Services Group to audit their social and ethical behavior.

The reasoning behind this change in mindset stems from a growing responsibility companies feel they have to stakeholders who more than just the company's financial picture. In fact, the process is known as a "triple-bottom-line exercise in corporate citizenship."

This also means that firms must hire auditors who understand more than just the numbers. These are people who should have a background in social and environmental matters.

Still, there are no rules for reporting on these kinds of matters, and firms are relying on traditional audit processes for the time being. Time will tell if that will prove worthwhile and make the grade.

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