ISO 26000 is a voluntary guidance standard on social responsibility designed for use by any organization. It can be used by business leaders to plan and implement actions to improve their sustainability – economically, socially and environmentally.
ISO 26000 was created by a diverse group of experts, representing many different countries, stakeholder groups and points of view. Work began in 2005 and was completed in 2010. Creation of the standard was organized by the International Standardization Organization (ISO), based in Geneva Switzerland. Since 1947 ISO has developed over 17,000 standards to encourage world trade and quality production. Previous well-known ISO standards include ISO 9000 (quality control) and ISO 14000 (environmental management systems). Unlike ISO 9000 and 14000, however, ISO 26000 is a voluntary guidance standard and is not intended for certification.
Key Elements of ISO 26000:
- Stakeholders are those people and groups that are affected by the actions of your business. These can include workers, suppliers, community residents, consumers, and investors. Communicating with them is one of the best ways a business can find out where it is doing a good job and where it could improve.
- Core Subjects ISO 26000 identifies seven core subjects that socially responsible businesses should address. Implementers of ISO 26000 should evaluate their actions in each of the core subjects, to identify what they are doing in their current practices and to set priorities for improvements.
- Organizational governance – practicing accountability and transparency at all levels of your organization; using leadership to create an organizational culture which uses core values of social responsibility when making business decisions.
- Human rights – treating all individuals with respect; making special efforts to help people from vulnerable groups.
- Labour practices – providing just, safe and healthy conditions for workers; engaging in two-way discussions to address workers’ concerns.
- Environment – identifying and improving environmental impacts of your operations, including resource use and waste disposal.
- Fair operating practices – respecting the law; practicing accountability and fairness in your dealings with other businesses, including your suppliers
- Consumer issues – providing healthy and safe products, giving accurate information and promoting sustainable consumption.
- Community involvement and development – getting involved in the betterment of the local communities that your organization operates in; being a good neighbour.