Assurance and audit are a necessary part of the ecosystem for financial accounting and performance management. We may take it for granted but the role of assurance and audit is crucial in supporting decision-making and enabling the global economy to function. However, if we want the global economy to make decisions differently, so that social and environmental value are factored into decision-making alongside financial value, then we need the same level of scrutiny and confidence in this information as well.
This chapter first outlines a short history and purpose of assurance exploring how important it is for building trust and credibility in information that is used for decision-making. It then explores accountability and how assurance doesn't play as big a role as it should in (social and environmental) impact accounting. Crucially, raising the issue that most people who experience the social and environmental impacts do not have the mechanisms to hold an organisation to account for this impact. This is creating an accountability gap and is leading to increased inequality.
This chapter then briefly outlines the current state of impact assurance including reference to key legislation and frameworks that do exist. This chapter concludes with some recommendations on how the demand for assurance of nonfinancial value can be increased and how it can be improved in terms of accuracy, completeness and most importantly so that it is being provided on behalf of the people (with little or no power) who experience the impacts.
Carpenter, B., Manning, C. and Henriques, A. (2021), "Assurance – Do We Know Enough?", Richards, A. and Nicholls, J. (Ed.) Generation Impact, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 179-189. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78973-929-920200018
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