Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Understanding ISO 26000

WHAT IS ISO 26000?

ISO 26000 is an International Standard (by the International Standards Organisation, ISO) created to guide organisations on Social Responsibility. It is drawn up to provide support or a reference for all kinds of organisations in both private and public sectors both in developed and developing countries, as well as those who may be referred to as ‘being in transition’. Instead of a law or index, this document provides a mere guide to complement the diverse efforts of organisations all over the world in attaining social responsibility.
ISO also likes to note that the ISO 26000 document only contains a voluntary guidance, not requirements, and should therefore not be used as a certification standard. (Like ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004).


Sustainability in business enterprises involves all the efforts and activities (both internal and external) that ensure an organisation operates in a socially responsible manner. With increasing pressure from all stakeholders, there is a need to develop standards as well as also benchmark on credible business practices at all times.

Since many experts across board all agree that CSR or SR or CR – all mean different things and vary from organisation to organisation; the ISO 26000 provides a rallying point for ALL kinds of organisations – especially both private and public enterprises as well as large corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises, public administrations and government agencies. The contents of this document, is simple and easy to understand – even for non-specialists or practitioners of CSR.
This standard complements the many other high-level declarations, conventions and individual CSR or SR initiatives that have been established, adopted or imbibed by organisations. Thus, the guide provides a plan to implement these lofty ideas.

What also stands ISO 26000 out is the amount of input and work from ISO’s far-reaching networks and national-member organisations. ‘ISO’s expertise is in developing harmonized international agreements based on double levels of consensus – among the principal categories of stakeholder, and among countries (ISO is a network of the national standards bodies of 163 countries)’.
Therefore, ISO can and should be trusted to ‘distil a globally relevant understanding of what social responsibility is and what organizations need to do to operate in a socially responsible way’.


The contents of ISO 26000 are summarised as follows: Scope, Terms and definitions of Social Responsibility, Understanding social responsibility, Principles of social responsibility, Recognizing social responsibility and engaging stakeholders, Guidance on social responsibility core subjects, Guidance on integrating social responsibility throughout an organization and examples of voluntary initiatives and tools for social responsibility.


The membership of the ISO/WG SR was the largest and the most broadly based in terms of stakeholder representation of any single group formed to develop an ISO standard.
Six main stakeholder groups were represented: industry; government; labour; consumers: nongovernmental organizations; service, support, research and others, as well as a geographical and gender-based balance of participants.

Under the joint leadership of the ISO members for Brazil (ABNT) and Sweden (SIS), it was made up of experts from ISO members (national standards bodies – NSBs) and from liaison organizations (associations representing business, consumers or labour, or inter-governmental or nongovernmental organizations). Membership was limited to a maximum of six experts per NSB and two experts per liaison organization.

In July 2010, the ISO/WG SR had 450 participating experts and 210 observers from 99 ISO member countries and 42 liaison organizations. The ISO national members bodies (NSBs) of 83 countries nominated experts to participate whilst the ISO members of 16 countries observed the work of the ISO/WG SR. About 42 organizations had liaison status with the ISO/WG SR and nominated experts to participate in its work.

The International Standard ISO 26000:2010, Guidance on social responsibility, provides harmonized, globally relevant guidance for private and public sector organizations of all types based on international consensus among expert representatives of the main stakeholder groups, and so encourage the implementation of best practice in social responsibility worldwide.

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