ISO 26000, as many of you are aware, was the International Standard for social responsibility launched in November 2010. Established to promote global norms for social responsibility, its success is argued in this article to be largely dependent on our collective treatment of eight primary factors.
Michael S. Asslander notes that this Standard requires corporations to “contribute to sustainable development through transparent and ethical behavior, which increases the wealth and welfare of society, respects the demands of all relevant stakeholders, and is in line with applicable laws, international regulations, and standards of behavior.”
ISO 26000 does not consider social responsibility a corrective action, but a fundamental value that should be applied on all levels of an organization’s performance.
One major concern that has been raised about the new Standard is that it might prove to be a hindrance to smaller corporations that are in less ideal a position to implement the social responsibility standards while struggling to establish themselves amidst larger, more experienced competitors. Some of our eight factors relate directly to this concern.
Here are the elements being considered:
(1) Stakeholders. These individuals collectively observe the way in which a company transacts its business, and are constantly measuring its level of responsibility. Under ISO 26000, the stakeholders will become more influential even than customers.
(2) Trust. The actions of leaders throughout the past several decades have led to an overall decline in trust, and stakeholders’ expectations are higher than ever. ISO 26000 could help to restore credibility, trust, and brand value.
(3) Attention. Corporate entities will need to pay special attention to the balance between people, profit, and the planet.
(4) Novelty. Achieving and maintaining excellence requires ongoing innovation. This element may be particularly important for smaller enterprises as they seek to find a competitive edge within ISO 26000.
(5) Diversity. The article lists primary areas of diversity as being in human, performance, industrial, size, cultural, ideological, geographic, and perceptional realms. This relates closely to number six:
(6) Alliance. Global cooperation is the only path toward a universal standard. Consensus among products, industries and countries will empower ISO 26000. To follow through with this, we require number seven:
(7) Respect. This translates into fair practices, concern for people, and care for environments. It is integral to the success of the new Standard.
(8) Dedication. Lasting success is obtainable only through long-term dedication to the application of the Standard on every level, from the smallest endeavor to the largest corporate power.
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