ISO 26000 Encourages Corporate Social Responsibility
Not all organisations recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility. Factors like industry, geographic location, and government regulation can influence a company’s motivation to “do the right thing.” To address this, the International Organisation for Standardization introduced the ISO 26000 standard to help steer organizations in a more socially responsible direction.
What benefits can be achieved by implementing ISO 26000?
An organization’s performance on social responsibility can influence, among other things:
- Competitive advantage
- The ability to attract and retain workers or members, customers, clients and users
- The maintenance of employee morale, commitment and productivity
- The perception of investors, owners, donors, sponsors and the financial community
- Relationships with companies, governments, the media, suppliers, peers, customers and the community in which it operates
ISO 26000 is intended to assist organizations in contributing to sustainable development. It encourages them to go beyond legal compliance, recognizing that compliance with the law is a fundamental duty of any organization and an essential part of their social responsibility program. The standard seeks to promote a common understanding of social responsibility while complementing – but not replacing – other existing tools and initiatives.
When applying ISO 26000, organizations should consider societal, environmental, legal, cultural, political, and organizational diversity, as well as differences in economic conditions, while being consistent with international norms of behavior.
Not for Certification
ISO 26000 is not a management system standard. It does not contain requirements and, as such, cannot be used for certification. Any offer to certify, or claims to be certified, against ISO 26000 would be a misrepresentation of its intent and purpose.
ISO 26000 is a voluntary guidance standard- that is, it does not contain requirements such as those used when a standard is offered for “certification”. There is a certain learning curve associated with using ISO 26000, because there is no specific external reward – certification – explicitly tied to ISO 26000
Social responsibility : 7 core subjects
- Community involvement and development
- Consumer issue
- Fair operating practices
- The environmental responsibility
- Labour practices
- Human rights
- Organizational governance
Core Subjects Detail
Community involvement and development are two of the most important initiatives that all the organizations, public and private, can take towards developing a sustainable society. Social responsibility issues through which an organization can contribute to their communities include their involvement in and support for civil institutions, promotion of culture and education, creation of employment opportunities and provision of full and safe access to modern technology. It can also contribute through social investment, wealth and income creation and health promotion.
Consumer issue regarding the social responsibility are related to, among other matters, fair marketing practices, protection of health and safety, sustainable consumption, dispute resolution and redress, data and privacy protection, access to essential products and services, reference the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers, and education.
Fair operating practices concern the way an organization uses its relationships with other organizations to promote positive outcomes. These include relationships between organizations and government agencies, as well as between organizations and their partners, suppliers, contractors, customers, competitors, and associations which they belong to. Fair operating practice issues covered by ISO 26000 are anti-corruption; responsibility for political involvement; fair competition; promoting social responsibility in the value chain; and respect for property rights.
The environmental responsibility is a precondition for the survival and prosperity of human beings. As the global population and global consumption continue to increase, several environmental and social threats are posed. Pollution, use of natural resources, climate changes, destruction of natural habitats, and loss of biodiversity are some of the environmental issues covered by ISO 26000. In the last few years, many organizations are taking steps toward becoming environmentally and socially responsible.
Labour practices is a term that encompass all the policies and practices relating to work performed on behalf of the organization, including the recruitment and promotion of workers; disciplinary and grievance procedures; transfer and relocation of workers; termination of employment; training and skills development; health, safety and industrial hygiene; and any policy or practice affecting work conditions. The most important socio-economic contributions of an organization are the creation of jobs, wages and other compensation forms of payment, for the work performed, amongst others.
Human Rights are the basic rights to which all human beings are entitled. There are two broad categories of human rights. The first category concerns civil and political rights and includes such rights as the right to life and liberty, equality before the law and freedom of expression. The second category concerns economic, social and cultural rights and includes such rights as the right to work, the right to food, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the right to education and the right to social security. Issues concerned regarding to human rights are due diligence; human rights risk situations; avoidance of complicity; resolving grievances; discrimination and vulnerable groups; civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; fundamental principles and rights at work.
Organizational governance is the system by which an organization makes and implements decisions in pursuit of its objectives. This is the most crucial factor in enabling an organization to take responsibility for the impacts of its decisions and activities. It should be the starting point for integrating social responsibility throughout the organization. Effective governance should be based on incorporating the principles of social responsibility (accountability, transparency, ethical behavior, etc.) into decision making and implementation.
Why corporate social responsibility matters?
According to the Holmes Report from 2016:
- 75% of consumers are likely to take negative action against companies that behave irresponsibly. This can range from posting on social media to organizing boycotts.
- Companies that are perceived as irresponsible stand to lose as much as 39% of their potential customer base. One in four consumers will tell their friends and family to avoid companies they view as irresponsible.
- 83% of professional investors say they are more likely to invest in companies known for their social responsibility. Businesses that embrace CSR initiatives tend to be more transparent and honest overall, which makes them a lower–risk investment.
- Only 41% of American consumers believe that American companies, when taken as a whole, are socially responsible.
ISO 26000:2010 is an international standard that provides guidance on the underlying principles of social responsibility, the core subjects and issues pertaining to social responsibility and on ways to integrate socially responsible behavior into the organization. Since social responsibility contributes directly to sustainable development of a country, organizations around the world are taking steps toward becoming more socially responsible, by using ISO 26000. The increasing awareness of the need for and benefits of socially responsible behavior are increasing the necessity for experts in this field.
ISO. 2018. Discovering ISO 26000: Guidence on Social Responsibility. International Organization for Standardization. Iso.org.
PECB. 2020. Seven Core Subjects Covered by ISO 26000. Pecb.com.