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Is Clause 5 Leadership all about Top Management?

It's time to shine the spotlight on top management and how they demonstrate leadership and commitment.

In this article, Auditor Training Online's director and triple certified real-world auditor, Jackie Stapleton sits down and explains the importance of Clause 5 to any Management Systems.

No more guessing or confusion!


Clause 5 refers to Leadership so that in itself is a dead giveaway on what this clause is all about. In each of the sub-clauses of 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3 they all refer to Top Management demonstrating leadership and commitment. So, it’s important to understand who top management is before we get too much further. The official definition for top management is … "the person or group of people who directs and controls an organization at the highest level". I always say that top management are the decision-makers. Depending on the structure and size of the business, top management could be the owners, shareholders, board of directors, general manager or even a project manager if the scope of the system is down to a project level only.

Clause 5 Leadership requires top management to demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the management system – whether it be quality, environment, OH&S, or any other ISO standard. This leadership and commitment should include areas such as:

  • Taking accountability for the management system
  • Ensuring that the policy and objectives are established
  • Ensuring sufficient resources are available
  • Promoting continual improvement
  • Customer focus – for quality specifically
  • Ensuring that responsibilities and authorities for roles are assigned, communicated and understood, and finally, specific to OH&S only 
  • The consultation and participation of workers

The BIG takeaway for this is that ALL of this is to come from top management – this is why it is important to note anything in Clause 5 as coming from the top. It is not operational at all.

I do hope that this gives you an idea of what clause 5’s intent is without too many nitty-gritty details.