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Understanding ISO 26000 – Social Responsibility.

 Understanding ISO 26000 – Social Responsibility.

 The Environmental Sustainability industry is growing and moving into all sectors of our society.  As this movement grows so is the demand of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) from consumers and industry leaders.  This is where the development of ISO 26000 was created to aid industry in developing Sustainability Visions for their organizations.

What is ISO 26000?  The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which has members of 163 nations as of 2010, created this standard to help push the implementation of socially responsible organizations.  The ISO 26000 is a voluntary standard and is not intended for certification of an organization but to be used as a tool for the creative design and development of programs and policies.

This standard is designed with 7 Clause Titles and 7 Core Subjects that need to be understood before analysis and program design development is started. The 7 Clauses aid in the understanding of Social Responsibility and strategies on implementation.  These are as follows:

1.      Scope: Guide to all types of organizations

2.      Terms & Definitions: Definitions of key terms

3.      Understanding Social Responsibility: Shows relationship between social responsibility and sustainable development.

4.      Principals of Social Responsibility: Accountability / Transparency / Ethical Behavior & Respect

5.      Recognizing social responsibility and Engaging stakeholders: Guidance on understanding relationships and an organizations influence

6.      Guidance on Core Subjects: Explains the core subject and associated issues

7.      Guidance on integration: Provides guidance on putting social responsibility into practice in an organization.

The ISO only developed standards for which there is a clear market requirement.  This is how the 7 Core Subjects areas were established.  Each subject should be looked into by an organization to have their social responsibility designed to aid in one or all these parts.  These subjects are subdivided into issues the organization can look into as well. The ISO sees that the following Core Subjects should be the focus of a sustainability vision of a company:

1.      Organizational Governance

2.      Human Rights – has 8 sub-issues that can be looked into

3.      Labor Practices – has 5 sub-issues that can be looked into

4.      The Environment – has 4 sub-issues that could be looked into

5.      Fair Operating Practices – has 5 sub-issues that could be looked into

6.      Consumer Issues – has 7 sub-issues that could be looked into

7.      Community Involvement and Development – has 7 sub-issues that could be looked into

An organization needs to recognize its social responsibility within its sphere of influence, and identifying and engaging with its stakeholders. This involves practices such as:


Ø  Making social responsibility integral to its policies, organizational culture, strategies and operations

Ø  Building internal competency for social responsibility

Ø  Undertaking internal and external communication on social responsibility

Ø  Regularly reviewing these actions and practices related to social responsibility


When looking at social responsibility an organization needs to look within its own walls to develop policies and standards that would help in true development of a sustainability vision. I would like to end with some more food for thought with a quote by Simon Mainwaring “If a brand genuinely wants to make a social contribution, it should start with who they are, not what they do. For only when a brand has defined itself and its core values can it identify causes or social responsibility initiatives that are in alignment with its authentic brand story.”