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Advance Sustainability with ISO 26000

Nicole Radziwill

Sustainability is just one facet of a strategy for social responsibility. Find out how ISO can help you evolve your organizational structures and governance for even greater impact.

Although many organizations are familiar with ISO 9001 for quality management, ISO 14001 for environmental management, and ISO 45001 for health and safety management, there is another ISO standard that can help organizations more effectively contribute to sustainable development and organizational sustainability.

The ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility, originally issued in 2010, provides voluntary recommendations to help organizations advance sustainability. But as a voluntary standard, unlike ISO 9000, there will be no requirements outlined in ISO 26000 to serve as the basis for certification. I had the privilege of working on this standard when it was in draft form in 2008, and helping to ensure that sound quality principles were part of its foundation.

The seven principles of social responsibility (Clause 4) are accountability, transparency, ethical behavior, respect for stakeholder interests, respect for the rule of law, respect for international norms of behavior, and respect for human rights. These principles form the value system upon which ISO 26000 is based. Next, it provides insights and best practices for building systems that respect human rights, demonstrate fair labor practices, care for the environment, operate mindfully, address consumer concerns, and build robust communities. This is all shown in the figure above.

The guidance embodied in ISO 26000 incorporates values, steps to achieve awareness, core functions and operational areas through which social responsibility can be realized, and approaches for integrating the concepts into an organization. In addition to the guidance provided within these clauses, examples of programs or measurement systems (“tools”) that an organization can participate in to increase its social responsibility is covered in Annex A. These include Social Accountability International’s SA8000 standard, indices from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to assess stakeholder engagement and organizational governance, and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for sustainability measurement.

ISO 26000 demonstrates that a quality-driven approach can help an organization achieve these goals while bridging the gap between organizational sustainability and sustaining communities and ecosystems. Even though it’s just a voluntary standard, ISO 26000 can help your organization evolve its governance bodies to contribute to goals that promote the health and well-being of society and the planet.

Additional Resources:

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (2010). Guidance on Social Responsibility. Available from https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:26000:ed-1:v1:en

Locke, R. M. (2009, January 14). Sustainability as fabric – and why smart managers will capitalize first: an interview with Richard M. Locke. Retrieved on June 30, 2009 from http://sloanreview.mit.edu/beyond-green/sustainability-as-fabric-and-why-smart-managers-will-capitalize-first

About the Author: Nicole Radziwill is the Vice President, Global Practice Leader, Quality & Supply Chain at Intelex Technologies. Before Intelex, she was an Associate Professor of Data Science and Production Systems, Assistant Director (VP) End-to-End Operations at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and manager and consultant for several other organizations since the late 1990's bringing quality management to technologically-oriented operations. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) with a Ph.D. in Quality Systems from Indiana State University. Nicole serves as Editor of Software Quality Professional (SQP) journal and is a former Chair of the ASQ Software Division. She is an ASQ Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB). 

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January 30, 2020 @ 05:09 PM EST Manufacturing, Energy - Oil and Gas, Chemical, Food and Beverage Operations, Quality

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