Compliance Conversations: Who are Top Management for ISO Standards?

Posted by Craig Thornton

This is part of a series of compliance conversations about how you best manage your QHSE management systems and their associated processes.

In this video QHSE Consultants from around the world talk about defining the 'Top Management' that the standard talks about

Check out the video here:


Video Transcription

Who are the 'Top Management' the standards talk about


Ben, Total Management & Training, Australia

From my side of things, I would say that ‘top management’ is anyone that has responsibility for the business and the direction that it goes.

This could be someone that makes high-level managerial calls or determinations, they're held responsible for certain compliance or accreditation standards. They're the ones that guide the business and where it heads, they're the ultimate decision-makers.


Laurie, Total Management & Training, Australia

You've also got to include things like impact on the resource in both financial and personnel because you're going to need both of those for your senior management in a quality system, or a health and safety system.

You've got to have resourcing and finances, so you'd add that to the top management requirements.


Andrew, IRM Systems, Australia

As top management in an organisation, let's start with an example of an Australian owned manufacturing company, for example, working in the suburbs of one of our major cities, it's really going to be the CEO, Managing Director, the top person of that organisation, the big dog, the big kahuna, whatever you want to call them.

Go straight to the top of your organisation chart, see who is at the top, that's the person.

It gets slightly trickier if we are a national business, but we've got a diversified range of products or services.

Maybe we're a building company, we supply manufactured building products, we've got quarrying operations, maintenance operations, whatever it might be. You have to look at two things

  1. Company structure
    • As an Australian company, if it’s a pty ltd kind of company, who would be numero uno under that organisational structure?
  1. But also, the scope of your management system.
    • Is relating to all services and products provided by this diversified company? Or if it's a subset of that; just the quarrying operations, you can go to the top of that tree.

ISO certainly doesn't mean someone like our Quality Manager or something like that. They mean numero uno within your business structure and within the scope of your management system.

Again, if we are an international motoring corporation, who would be the top management? Really it depends on that company structure within Australia. Is it International Motoring Company A? It's going to be the CEO or president of that organisation.  Or is it International Motoring Company Australia Pty limited, their Australian organisation? Well, it's the head of that organisation.


Nicholas, SRM, South Africa

When considering who is top management, we need to focus on the scope of the management system.

If we're talking about a massive multinational with many different branches and divisions, then the leadership responsible for command and control of the scoped organisation, as in the multinational, will be seen as top management.

However, if the scope of the management system is just for one of the individual branches or divisions, whichever leadership is responsible for command and control of that division, will be seen as top management.

In summary, it depends on the scope of the management system.


Michael, Momentum Safety and Ergonomics, Australia

I think when we're talking about top management, I instantly think of the company's organisation chart.

The higher you go up there, the more you are in top management.

Top management is going to be obviously the CEO, General Manager, Director, those types of titles, and possibly the next group under that.

It completely depends on the company's size and structure, but you may be talking about those senior department managers as well.

The way I tend to think about it is, anyone who has influence or control or the decisions that they make have an impact on the company more as a whole, not so much impact on small isolated areas, but impact on the company as a whole.


Sean, Kaizen, New Zealand

Top management are the people who make decisions. They have influence over the safety, quality, information security and all the other disciplines that the standard talks about.

Typical ones are senior management and sometimes middle management as well. When you have a position that has the highest impact or influence.


John, Many Caps, New Zealand

Your board downwards.

  • Your board
  • CEO
  • Senior Management team

are generally considered the top management.


  1. Look at the organisations chart to discover who the top management are
  2. Top Management is anyone who has influence or control over the company as a whole
  3. Follow this link for more blogs on Quality Management


Tags: Management System, ISO, Compliance, Risk Management, Customer Satisfaction, QMS, integrated qhse manual, ISO45001, ISO Certification, process approach, Compliance Conversations