• Governance I Risk I Compliance Management

Whilst the terms ‘accreditation’ and ‘certification’ are often used interchangeably, they are two closely related but distinct steps on the quality assurance ladder.

Accreditation is a rung further up the ladder, performing an oversight role that underpins the quality, impartiality and competence of the certification process.

Certification is an audit of whether an organisation,  product or individual, conforms to the criteria laid out in a recognised standard or scheme, such as ISO 37001 ABMS.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the independent evaluation of conformity assessment bodies against recognised standards to carry out specific activities to ensure their impartiality and competence. Through the application of national and international standards, government, procurers and consumers can have confidence in the certifications, calibration and test results, and inspection provided by accredited organisations.

More specifically, accreditation involves the assessment of the competence and impartiality of a certification body such as the British Assessment Bureau and the compliance of their work to nationally and internationally recognised standards or schemes. UKAS is the national accreditation body for the United Kingdom and examines the certification body’s competence to determine compliance with standards. Essentially UKAS is checking the checkers, ensuring that these standards are met and providing the evidence that they are by delivering an independent, impartial confirmation of technical competence. Getting the proper ISO certifications is a big step towards contributing and aligning your company values to the UN sustainable development goals.

What is certification?

Effectively, certification is the third-party confirmation via audit of an organisation’s systems or products, whilst accreditation is independent third-party recognition that an organisation has the competence and impartiality to perform specific technical activities such as certification, testing and inspection.

Just as end user organisations have to demonstrate their conformity with a set of criteria to a certification body in order to be certified, in turn certification bodies have to demonstrate their competence, impartiality and integrity to UKAS in order to be accredited.  In other words, if certification bodies are ‘the checkers’ then UKAS’s role as the government-appointed National Accreditation Body is to ‘check the checkers’.

It follows that only certification bodies can refer to themselves as ‘accredited’, whereas the organisations successfully audited by certification bodies hold ‘certification’. If the certification body has been accredited by UKAS to audit that particular activity, then organisations successfully audited by that certification body hold ‘accredited certification’.

Types of Certification

Certification to ISO standards or British standards demonstrates that your organisation works to international or national best practices, demonstrating your credibility and competence to stakeholders and customers. Certifications are legally obligated in some industries, and they are often included in tender requirements in other industries. The guidelines set forth by the standards apply to all types and sizes of organisations and aren’t restricted by industry, risk exposure or geographic reach.

ISO 37001:2016 – Anti-Bribery Management Systems (ABMS)

ISO 37001 certification enables you to protect and preserve the integrity of your organisation by opening your organisation to external scrutiny of the effectiveness of your anti-bribery policies and processes and demonstrating compliance to relevant legislation such as the Bribery Act 2010.


ISO 37002:2021 – Whistleblowing Management Systems – Guidance

ISO 37002 is the guideline for whistleblowing management systems developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 


ISO 37000:2021 – Governance of Organisations Guidelines

There is no ISO certification available for ISO 37000 as it is not a certifiable Standard issued by ISO. It is only a set of guidelines and guidance on best practices. We offer auditing services, we don’t build the programmes, but we can audit them, review them and provide assurance of compliance and/or certify them.


ISO 37301:2021 – Compliance Management Systems (CMS)

ISO 37301 is a Type A management system standard that sets out the requirements and provides guidelines for establishing, developing, implementing, evaluating, maintaining, and continually improving a compliance management system (CMS).


When a company implements these systems and applies for Certification through an ISO certification body, it needs to clear a surveillance audit and a certification audit. The certification body audits the company’s system and adherence to bare minimum requirements mentioned in ISO.

On successfully completing an audit, the organisation is ISO certified by the certification body. This cycle is repeated every three years to ensure the system’s effectiveness, along with a surveillance audit every year.

Accreditation and SDGs

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs, also known as the Global Goals) are 17 goals with 169 targets that all UN Member States have agreed to work towards achieving by the year 2030. They set out a vision for a world free from poverty, hunger and disease.

It can be challenging for those at the beginning of a sustainability journey to know how to get started and how to communicate intentions, as not all the 17 SDGs are equally relevant to a business. The extent to which a company can contribute to each, and the risks and opportunities they represent, will depend on many factors. Therefore, the key is to help businesses better understand the SDGs. To translate these into a business context and introduce impactful measures to align with the SDGs.

At the Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence, we support the implementation of the SDGs by helping organisations develop more sustainable and transparent business practices. Our ISO certification and training solutions enable companies to grow sustainably, so they can mitigate risks while becoming more attractive to investors. Our portfolio of solutions includes seven categories:

Zafar, CEO at ABAC®, says, “As the world’s leading certification provider and the provider of the world’s most comprehensive range of sustainability services, we are committed to helping organisations establish safer, more efficient processes and reduce bribery and corruption risks. Our ISO certification and training solutions, aligned with the SDGs, help organisations meet their sustainability goals.”

About ABAC®

Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence is an independent certification body that provides education and certification services for individuals and organisations on a wide range of disciplines and ISO standards, including:

ABAC® offers a complete suite of solutions designed to help organisations mitigate the internal and external risks associated with operating in multi-jurisdiction and multi-cultural environments while assisting in developing frameworks for strategic compliance programs.

ABAC® is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS CB number: 10613) against ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of the scheme’s management systems of ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems (ABMS). This makes ABAC® Certification the leading accreditated certification body specialising in global anti-bribery and anti-corruption, risk and compliance management system standards. ABAC® experts audit any existing compliance and anti-bribery anti-corruption management systems to assess effectiveness and vulnerabilities while ensuring your organisation complies with Internal Standards, FCPA, UK Bribery Act, Anti-Money Laundering regulations, and all other global, regional and local regulations while maintaining a competitive edge in the world marketplace.

If you seek to validate or expand your existing compliance frameworks to maintain a competitive edge in the world marketplace, ABAC® can help you. Our experts audit your existing compliance and anti-bribery anti-corruption management systems to assess effectiveness and vulnerabilities while ensuring your organisation complies with Internal Standards, FCPA rules, UK Bribery Act laws, Anti-Money Laundering regulations, and all other global, regional and local regulations.