4. External audit

External audit or peer evaluation

The external audit is the last stage before publishing your Common Good Report. The audit includes independent evaluation as well as feedback, flagging up areas for future development.

If a company works together with other companies in a peer group to produce its report, this is regarded as a peer evaluation.
In all other cases, the report is evaluated by an external audit.

In both cases, the final results are clearly displayed in a certificate.

More details on the external audit here (in German).


1. External audit

The external audit is a conscious step to strengthen the sustainability of a company's activities. The goal is "a good life for everyone", the common good. The Common Good Report captures the specific contribution a company is making towards this goal.

The audit is an independent and certified examination of all the activities presented in the report which affect people and the environment. Feedback conversations stimulate critical reflections on the ECG values and how they relate to company activities. This heightens consciousness around doing business differently and starts a process of further development.  

The ECG audit ensures the quality of the Common Good Balance Sheet. The audit certificate is a seal of approval: it assures the credibility of the report to stakeholders.

Audit process

  1. Application
    First send the application form to the audit team (see checklist below). An auditor is assigned to you - for larger companies, this may be a team. Details regarding the audit process, timetable and costs are discussed with you before the start.

  2. External audit, feedback and development ideas
    After starting the audit process, the report is verified, through the evaluation of documentation, personal calls and visits to the company. A distinction is made between a visit audit, a desk audit or a group audit. The Common Good Report, as well as the self-assessed results are critically assessed from a cross-sector perspective. The auditors may therefore adjust the scoring from the self-assessment.
    An audit report will explain how the external assessment was reached. The justification for the scores is made at the level of the sub-indicators. Where possible, best-practice examples are used to illustrate the measures. The audit report points out existing strengths and development potential and often forms the basis for valuable feedback discussions, which contribute to the further development of the company.

  3. Certification
    A certificate is issued at the end of the audit process. This shows the score for each indicator, as well as the total number of points. With the certificate, the Common Good Report is recognised as the Common Good Balance Sheet for a period of two years.

  4. Continuous development
    The certificate is valid for two years. Thereafter, a new Common Good Report should be created and submitted for an external audit.
    In order to keep moving in the right direction, it is useful to set milestones to check your progress.

Audit Checklist

  • Application form for the external audit of matrix 4.1 (form as pdf (German))

  • Common Good Report (report template as word doc (German) / odt file (German))

    • complete with at least 2-3 meaningful sentences for each sub-indicator

    • statements should relate to a reporting period of two financial years

    • the end date of the reporting period should be no longer than 12 months prior to the time of filing.

  • Scoring (Excel calculator)

    • self assessment

  • Valid membership of an ECG association

For all questions regarding the audit, contact audit@list.ecogood.org
or Gitta Walchner gwalchner@freenet.de (+ 49-76-4799393)


2. Peer evaluation

In a peer evaluation, a small group of companies are guided through the Common Good Report process by an ECG consultant over a series of workshops. The drafting of the Common Good Report is a joint learning process. The evaluation of each company's contribution to the common good is made with help of peers.

Finally, the results are quality assured by ECG auditors. The peer certificate, a preliminary step towards the audit certificate, also represents a seal of quality: it assures the credibility of the report for stakeholders.

A peer evaluation can only be done once, during the preparation of the first balance sheet.

Peer evaluation process

  1. Terms of engagement
    The entire process, and in particular the final module, needs to be moderated and documented by a qualified ECG consultant or auditor. They act as facilitators and can help with assembling a peer group. To register your interest in an peer-evaluation contact peer@ecogood.org.
    Further information can be found in the Peer evaluation guidelines (pdf, German).
    Here are some examples of Peer-evaluated ECG companies.

  2. Self-assessment, peer-assessment and systemic consensus
    A peer group consists of four to six companies. Over a period of 3 to 6 months, they come together in 4 to 5 half-day workshops to develop a deeper understanding of the indicators and sub-indicators. This strengthens the basis for creating reports and promotes a lively exchange resulting in mutual learning.
    As the final stage of the joint learning process, each company's report is submitted to the peers for scoring - a peer evaluation takes place. After thorough reading of the documentation, the final evaluation of the respective contributions to the common good will be determined as part of a final workshop module: Each participating company presents and justifies its assessment of the peers to the group. Where there are large differences between self-assessments and peer-assessments, the final result is decided by the method of systemic consensus.

  3. Certification
    The ECG consultant who has been facilitating the process sends the documentation, the peer evaluation and the completed reports and evaluations to peer@ecogood.org. External audits by ECG-auditors are then carried out. It takes about 2-4 weeks depending on the amount of work required and availability. If everything is available and verifiable, a certificate is issued. There is a certificate fee of 50 Euros plus 20% sales tax.

  4. Continuous development
    A peer-evaluation can only be done once, during the preparation of the first balance sheet. In order to ensure the comparability of all balance sheet results, external audits are indispensable.

Peer checklist

All the documentation is sent to peer@ecogood.org by the ECG consultant. They then receive the respective certificates to distribute to the companies.

  • Confirmation of the joint learning process (confirmation template as doc (German))

    • to be signed by the consultant.

    • a prerequisite for peer evaluation.

  • Peer-evaluation documentation (template (German))

    • to be completed by the consultant.

    • records the correct execution of a peer evaluation.

  • Peer ECG reports (Report templates in German doc / odt)

    • complete with at least 2-3 meaningful sentences per sub-indicator.

    • statements should relate to a reporting period of two financial years.

    • the end date of the reporting period should be no longer than 12 months prior to the time of filing.

  • Peer-assessment (Excel calculator)

    • with the results of the peer evaluation.

  • Certificate fee of 50 euros plus 20% sales tax

    • the auditors' fees are to be paid by the peer companies.

    • ideally, the amount will be collected by the consultant.

  • Valid membership of an ECG association

For further questions on peer evaluation, please email peer@ecogood.org. For enquiries, phone Gitta Walchner on +49-761-4799393.