The Audit Business Elevating People Over Profit

Ashleigh Wilson is the founder of Auditmate which is the first ever elevator and escalator auditing and management software. What sets Ashleigh’s organisation apart is their great philosophy around diversity and inclusion and putting people before profits.

One of the great things about hosting this podcast is that I meet really interesting people who are running great businesses. One of these people is Ashleigh Wilson. It was never in my consciousness that we needed a business like Auditmate which Ashleigh has founded. Still, it was so good to speak to an entrepreneur who has founded not only a cool business, but a business that is really keen on making sure that they are doing their best around diversity and inclusion.

I asked Ashleigh to tell me a bit more about the cool business she founded and any background that led to this point.

‘Absolutely, I’m Ashleigh Wilson, the founder and CEO of Auditmate and we are the first ever elevator and escalator auditing and management software. A little about me first though. I am a self-proclaimed elevator baby. I was raised in the industry. My stepfather was in the industry my entire life. I was an entrepreneur as early as I could remember; started and sold a few businesses at a really young age and then joined the elevator industry. I quickly found that customers were an afterthought, and skyrocketing profits in the elevator industry were a direct result of customers not understanding their contracts. So accessible, inclusive language in elevator contracts built to confuse people and also elevator companies just simply not doing their job.

I left the industry and I didn’t know that Auditmate would be the next thing, but it ended up that Auditmate just sort of came together in an effort to empower building owners and managers to get the most out of their contracts.’

I know Ashleigh has got some really great philosophies of running a successful organisation and diversity and inclusion is also core to the business. I was curious why that is and what are some of the philosophies Auditmate adheres to.

‘I didn’t set out to have a diverse and inclusive business. I set out to have an environment that I could be my authentic self and that everyone else could be their authentic selves. I left my previous my corporate company because I felt othered. It didn’t feel good to be there if you didn’t fit in the old boys’ club. I knew there were many others that felt that same way, and I believe that otherness stifles growth. It stifles connection. To do revolutionary things, we need to be our revolutionary selves. We need to be authentic and be able to sit in the messiness of the human experience.’

When Ashleigh felt othered and left, that’s a cost to an organisation, through that turnover or attrition. It’s one of the key areas that my clients are really concerned about because they’re losing out on that creativity and innovation, and when people leave that costs the business money. Actually, it can lead to a negative brand perception because you’re not exactly going to go and encourage your friends and family to go and work for that employer, are you?

‘Absolutely! It takes a lot of energy to uphold this mask of fitting in. It takes a lot of your creative brain power to be like “Oh, I need to say the right thing and I need to leave my emotions at the door,” air quotes, and these sort of old business mentalities. What if we could put that creative energy into our work?’

I know one of Ashleigh’s sayings is, “People over profits”. I asked if she could explain that a bit more?

‘In my previous life, I felt that the focus of corporates was profit over everything else. It was a dollar number that was the objective, and there were many things getting lost and missed. The customer being one; the employee being one. I believe that when we focus on profits, we lose sight of people but when we focus on people, the profits follow.

If we treat our employees well, our employees will treat our customers well and the profits come, I promise. It happens. Auditmate was me setting out on a mission to prove that a business that’s focused on doing right will ultimately do well.’

I made that exact point in my book Inclusive Growth. It was based on research that found organisations focused on people were more profitable than businesses that focus on profit. This was backed up in a video I saw recently from a Harvard lecturer who said that business strategy is a lot simpler than you think. Basically, he called it the value stick meaning there’s a willingness to pay and a willingness to sell. You can move those up and down. The consumer has a willingness to pay for your product or service and your employees have got a willingness to sell their time for an hourly amount. You can create value at both ends of that stick. But right in the middle is the profit or the margin that the organisation makes.

From a diversity and inclusion perspective what was interesting is it’s not necessarily about paying people more for their time, but creating a much more inviting, welcoming environment where people feel like they belong. Workplaces where people can be their authentic selves is where you create value for the employee.

I asked Ashleigh, ‘What are some of the other philosophies that you follow in your business around trying to make sure that diversity and inclusion really gets woven into how you conduct your business?’

‘One thing I say all the time is permission to be human. We have a full permission to be human at Auditmate. It means that the human experience is messy, y’all. There’s a lot that used to be checked at the door. We should be able to call in to work sad, instead of sick, right?

If I’m grieving, why should I have to lie to my boss to say that I’m physically ill when I’m emotionally ill, or mentally having issues? Whatever that might be, and not that you have to disclose, but I want to create environments that we can choose to not show up when we need to not show up, because on those days, we need to show up for ourselves, we’re showing up just in a different way. That’s really, really important to me.

I also say that your mental health is your responsibility. What I mean by that is, I want people to be able to advocate for their own mental health and take days off when they need them. We have unlimited paid time off under the notion that we believe that mental health is health and is the same to Auditmate as physical wellbeing.’

What Ashleigh describes sounds great. I wondered what other support Auditmate gives to colleagues, since the organisation is very forward-thinking when it comes to inclusivity and belonging, but it’s operating in an industry that’s not particularly diverse. If employees are working with other suppliers or maybe clients where there’s that lack of diversity, I asked if that ever creates any friction and how Auditmate can help staff navigate that?

Ashleigh described a recent situation where one of the Auditmate managers called recently about a client. ‘They were using the old fear tactics with their suppliers, yelling and threatening and I was like, we don’t operate that way. Our north star is to be excellent to each other.

We will absolutely fire a client for not treating you well. There is no amount of money that is worth anyone at Auditmate being treated that way because we don’t treat each other that way. We don’t treat our employees or our customers that way. And if our clients are treating people that way, then they’re not our client… Then they’re not the right fit for us.’

I love what Ashleigh says. It’s taking a stand to say these are our values. These are the kinds of people that we want to work with if they align with our values.

I asked Ashleigh ‘What would your advice be to one of your clients, who suddenly wakes up in the morning and have this epiphany that they want to run their business with this philosophy of people over profits. What are the top three things that they should start to do to move their organisation towards running that way?’

‘Talk to their employees is number one. Ask what leadership is not doing well. Ask about leadership’s blind spots.

Then second, I would say listen to them, right? I heard a great quote recently, which was when someone has a different worldview than you and they tell you about their experience our only job is to believe them.

I think I see that in organisations where folks will say, “Hey, I’m not being respected,” or “Hey, nobody’s listening to me.” And leadership will be like, “That’s not true. Look at X, Y, and Z, look at these initiatives we did.” Folks are then thinking, “No, you’re not listening. You’re not believing these other folks’ worldviews.”

Third, I would say, if your leadership team is not representative of the communities that you inhabit, and your entire workforce, that’s a good place to start. Whilst we need to promote in a way that we are setting people up for success. Some folks might not be ready to be in those positions in your organisation in which case there is training and it probably needs to happen in those environments.

Set up a committee of folks that are representative of your communities in your organisation to advocate for other people. Because the people that are making decisions, if they are a homogenous group, they’re not going to make the best decisions.’

Now Ashleigh has laid a solid foundation, with great principles like people over profit and creating an environment where people can be their selves, days that people can take off around if they’re suffering from their mental wellbeing, I was curious to find out how Ashleigh sees the culture of Auditmate evolving. I asked, ‘Do you see the culture growing? And how’s that going to help you develop and grow your business?’

‘I see our culture being ever evolving. Something I say often is, in leadership, it’s not a matter of, if you screw up, it’s a matter of when. I want our culture to be able to get called out to take a hard look in the mirror, and then to change. Because the younger generations are changing fast. Fast, fast, fast, and we’re going to have to keep up. That means these new ideas that are going to come to me when I’m not young anymore, and I’m going be like, “What the heck are these kids talking about? Are you serious?” And that’s on me, right? That’s on me to keep inclusivity in decision-makers, to keep inclusivity in the entire team to make sure that I constantly have mirrors around that are telling me slow down, or you’re wrong or take a harder look.

Having those people around me that check me all the time, and then check in, and that goes all the way through the organisation is this environment of calling out and calling in and then truly looking in the mirror. And that doesn’t mean we do everything that gets called out and called in. But that means that we examine every single one and so that the culture can change and morph and evolve on its own.’

Before we wrapped up, I asked Ashleigh the same question everybody is posed on this podcast, ‘What does inclusive growth mean to you?’

‘To me inclusive growth is like its own separate entity. It has its own separate life force that it may have been sparked by me. But it is changed by each and every person that is involved in that culture. Inclusive growth is that I am grateful to be able to stand back and watch this culture take on its own life. Everybody is welcome sounds so cliche, but it’s like everybody belongs. And in the book that I’m reading right now, it says belonging is love that is not sacrificed at the altar of acceptance, which is just brilliant to me, right? Like, there is no sacrifice in being your authentic self, there’s no sacrifice in acceptance. That just is.’

To continue the conversation with Ashleigh personally, reach out via the LinkedIn page. Ashleigh works with a lot of with queer and women entrepreneurs and would love to chat with founders or people interested diversity and inclusion. For all elevator related matters, including any questions about maintenance contracts visit the company site at

The Audit Business Elevating People Over Profit - Mildon