The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 26000 was established in the year 2010 for guiding the organization on social responsibility. These standards elucidate the fundamentals and guidelines of the concept of social responsibility, and it helps the organization to act in an effective manner relating to mission and vision, operation, processes, employees, communities, customers, and stakeholders.
ISO 26000 is not like any other ISO certification. Its purpose is to guide on social responsibility, by following these standards, an organization will act ethically, transparently, and work towards the welfare of the society.
This standard was developed by the multi-sectoral group consisting of representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry, labor organization, consumer groups, and different stakeholders across the world.
Basically, the ISO 26000 is a voluntary document, which offers advice, suggestion, proposals for the organization regarding how to achieve social responsibility behavior.
Objectives of ISO 26000
- The ISO 26000 standard helps the organization in addressing social responsibilities with respect to societal, cultural, environmental, and economic development conditions.
- Offer a practical guide to the organization on effective implementation of the principle of social responsibility.
- These standards help in finding and engaging stakeholders and improving the reliability of the reports and claims on social responsibility.
- It improves the confidence and overall satisfaction of the consumer and stakeholders.
- It improves the performance of the organization.
- To contribute towards sustainable development through a transparent and ethical manner.
- To assist the organization, irrespective of the type and size, in addressing social responsibility.
- It promotes company accountability, reports credibility, and enhances the performance in the market operations.
Benefits of ISO 26000
- It will enhance the relationship with company stakeholders.
- You can count on substantial client satisfaction.
- It Improves staff engagement in mitigating and managing social responsibility issues.
- It improves staff working conditions, and fosters employee engagement by carrying out an efficient system of managing feedback and handling complaints.
- It curbs and curtails greenhouse gas emissions.
- It contributes to effective waste management programs like sorting out the different types of waste, recycling, and recovering.
- It promotes engagement with local communities by providing donations and sponsorship for charitable promotions.
- It promotes community development through improving the overall literacy of workers and their families.
- It enhances the development of biodegradable polyethylene packing in the field of the packaging industry.
- It promotes greater transparency with the company partners.
- It will improve the health and safety of staff involved in the organization, and the beneficiaries.
- It can also develop the salary scale of employees based on their requirements and the organization.
- It considerably improves the decision-making process of the company.
- It promotes improved communication among the staff and stakeholders on significant issues with respect to social responsibility.
- It emphasizes the rights of employees, their health and safety, and for serving communities.
- By following these standards, the electricity bill of the organization can be reduced up to an average of 3%.
- It will improve the internal working environment and further strengthen the structure of the organization.
- It enhances the overall quality of the service of the organization in a sustainable approach.
- It improves gender equality, human rights, and any other issues which impact society.
- Reduced water contamination and consumption
- It will enhance the reputation of the company in their respective industry.
- Reduced fuel consumption, paper use, and better waste management plan.
- It increases the competitive advantage of the organization.
Checklist Guidance of ISO 26000 on social responsibility
The ISO 26000 provides guidance to all organizations on how to operate businesses in a socially responsible way, and these standards help in defining the social responsibility and converting principles into effective actions based on the international norms. The guidance placed in the ISO 26000 system is designed to be very clear and instructive, even to the layman, as well as being objective and pertinent to all organizations including big, medium, and small-sized enterprises, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Similarly, the ISO 26000 is framed in the way of assisting the organization in contributing to sustainable development and encouraging them to attain advanced legal compliance and promoting common understanding of social responsibility. There are seven key principles stated in social responsibility, they are
- Ethical behavior.
- Respect for the rule of law.
- Respect for international norms of behavior.
- Respect for stakeholders.
- Respect for human rights.
- Accountability implies that the organization should be held responsible for the impacts made by them on the society, economy, and the environment.
- This basically involves how the decision and activities of the organization impact the society, and the appropriate preventive actions taken in response.
- The organization should transparently disclose all the internal policies and procedures, documentation, activities that they are responsible for.
- This information should be easily available for interested parties, who have been affected by the action and decision of the organization.
- But this does not mean that all the sensitive information or personal privacy policies pertaining to the organization, should be made public.
- Ethical behavior denotes that the organization should have a concern for the welfare of all living things, non-living things, and the environment as a whole. Eg: animals, their purpose, and existence, can be affected by the various activities of the organization, so, there should be effective planning to avoid these types of grievances.
- Every organization should follow ethical behavior with clearly defined values of equity, honesty, and integrity.
Respect for the rule of law:
- Basically, the organization should apply and follow the rule of law with respect to its policies, procedures, etc.
- The ISO 26000 mandates that the organization comply with the legal and regulatory requirements to all its extent, which they operate and adequately review the compliance policies and procedures with all applicable laws.
Respect for international norms of behavior:
- The organization should follow the international norms in addition to the “rule of law” which extends up to the domestic level.
- When the rule of law does not provide enough environmental, social, or economic safeguarding procedures, then the organization should endeavor to respect these norms of behavior at least in the location in which companies operate.
Respect for stakeholders:
- The stakeholder can be an individual or a group of people who have been affected by the actions of the organization. Therefore the organization should respect the interest of the stakeholders.
- Initially, the proper stakeholders should be identified.
- Analyze the ability of every stakeholder.
- Evaluate the concern of every stakeholder, as per the impact made by the decision or activities of the organization irrespective of their involvement.
Respect for human rights:
- An organization should respect human rights, which is a moral principle or norm that describes that a certain standard of human behavior is to be regularly protected as per their natural right.
- When human rights are not protected, as per the standards of ISO 2600, it gives way to the organization through several opportunities for exploiting others. So these practices should not be encouraged by any organization.
ISO 26000: Social responsibility
The ISO 26000 standard explains the core subjects of social responsibility and it illustrates the number of issues pertaining to the organization and stakeholders. So each organization should analyze the cause of issues, which needs to be addressed.
The seven core subjects of social responsibility are defined in clause 6 of the ISO 26000 standard. They are
organizational governance: sub-clause 6.2: It states how an organization makes a decision and takes steps to achieve the objectives. Here the accountability, transparency, ethics, and stakeholders should be the factors to the organization’s decision-making process.
Human rights: sub-clause 6.3
- Human rights are fundamental rights, which belong to every person in the world irrespective of race, sex, nationality, religion, etc.
- Due diligence
- Human rights risk situations
- Avoidance of complicity
- Resolving disputes
- Discrimination and vulnerable groups
- Civil and political rights
- Economic, social, and cultural rights
- Fundamental principles and rights at work
Labor practice: sub-clause 6.4
- The laborers of the organization should be treated with dignity, respect, fairness, and equality. They must be free from discrimination, exploitation, and harassment from the employer or others.
- Employment and employee relationships
- Conditions of work and social protection
- Social dialogue
- Health and safety at work
- Human development and training in the workplace
Environment: sub-clause 6.5
- Every organization has to work within the framework, which should be sustainable and does not create any negative impact on the environment.
- Curbing the pollution
- Use the resources in a sustainable way
- Alleviate climate change and adoption
- Protection of the environment, biodiversity, and natural habitats.
Fair operating practices: sub-clause 6.6
- The fair operating practices include anti-corruption, fair competition, and sustainable procurement between the organizations and government agencies. It is similar case between organizations and their partners, contractors, customers, competitors, etc.
- Responsible political involvement
- Fair competition
- Promoting social responsibility in the value chain
- Respect for property rights
Consumer issues: sub-clause 6.7
- The term consumer not only refers to the person, who acquires the organization’s products and services but also who makes use of the output of the organization’s decision. So the company must promote sustainable economic and social development pertaining to consumer health, safety, etc.
- Fair marketing,
- Factual, unbiased information and fair contractual practices
- Protecting consumers' health and safety
- Sustainable consumption
- Consumer service, support, and complaint and dispute resolution
- Consumer data protection and privacy
- Access to essential services
- Education and awareness
Community involvement and development: sub-clause 6.8
- All organizations will register an impact on the communities in which they operate. ISO 26000 encourages the organization to interact and integrate the communities for their development, which increases the standard of living, education, etc. Here both community involvement and development are essential parts of sustainable development.
- Community involvement
- Education and culture
- Employment creation and skills development
- Technology development and access
- Wealth and income creation
- Social investment
ISO 26000 standard and sustainable development:
The ISO 26000 standards were framed prior to the United Nations 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), still, it offers more than 400 recommendations pertaining to the principles and core subjects of social responsibility, which helps organization to achieve their SDGs.
The overlapping features of ISO 26000 and SDGs are
- SDG 1 ( No poverty) and ISO 26000 sub-clause 6.4 ( Labor practices), states that the organization should pay adequate wages to the workers. By doing so, it increases the standard of living and the social security benefits, thereby, contributing to the SDGs.
- SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and ISO 26000 sub-clause 6.7 ( consumer issues), which educates the organization to address the environmental protection mechanism like an efficient use of resources, energy, and water. And the proper handling of disposal of waste products and recycling. Similarly, there are a lot of ISO 26000 standard features that run parallel with the SDGs.
ISO 26000 Certification:
As stated, ISO 26000 is a list of recommendations that helps the organization to critically review and sort out the strategy for social responsibility and convert the principles and objectives into effective actions. Like any other ISO certification, ISO 26000 does not provide any certification, it is merely a framework that provides guidance for achieving social responsibility in the organization and it does not set any goals that need to be achieved. Even though the ISO 26000 does not provide any certification, following guidance will fetch you another certification like ISO 9001 for quality management, ISO 14001 for environmental management, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, this is not a certification like other ISO standards. This is a guide for the organization on how to function in a socially responsible way and contribute to sustainable development.
Following the guidelines of ISO 26000, it will bring strategic advance to the organization and increase the competitiveness in the industry. Similarly, it will enhance the reputation and public image of the organization.
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