When I speak to organizational leaders, many are seeking tools to develop a sustainable corporate social responsibility strategy. I find most organizations experience challenges in driving this systemic change. While the benefits of becoming a socially responsible organization include attracting employees and clients with similar values, improving relationships with communities, suppliers, and governmental agencies, reducing risk, and creating new opportunities. In my experience, leaders struggle with truly embedding social responsibility into their organizations. In order to facilitate this transformation, I am sharing the ISO 26000 resource to provide guidance on your CSR journey.
ISO 26000 is a voluntary set of guidelines to help organizations operate in a socially,
environmentally, and ethically responsible way. Since it is a guideline rather than a standard, it is not certifiable but rather serves as a tool to improve an organizations social responsibility. ISO 26000 builds upon linkages in international standards such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), UN Global Compact, and the UN Declaration of Human Rights to create an actionable set of guidelines.
For an organization to be socially responsible, it means that management considers the impacts of its actions on society and the environment. In addition, it means that a governance structure is created to ensure that this process of contributing to sustainable development is managed in an ethical and transparent manner taking all stakeholders requirements into consideration. For an organization to be socially responsible, they must fully embed these concepts into the culture of the organization so that they become part of their people, process, and policies.
ISO 26000 7 principles to drive socially responsible impact are:
4. Respect for Stakeholders
5. Respect for the Rule of Law
6. Respect for International Norms of Behavior
7. Respect for Human Rights
These 7 principles establish an underlying framework for socially responsible decision making and foster creating a community to support these standards. As you undertake your social responsibility journey, please remember that this is a continuous improvement process that gets better with practice.
In order to identify key socially responsible issues, we break into 7 core subjects as outlined in Exhibit A.
|Exhibit A: Identification of Social Responsibility Priorities|
The 7 Core Subjects are: organizational governance, human rights, labor rights, environment, fair-operating practices, consumer issues, community involvement & development. Using a Deming cycle approach ( Plan, Do, Check, Act), begin by selecting the most relevant socially responsible issues, identify your organization’s desired position, highlight the current gap between vision and actual, identify models of success, implement best practices, identify areas of weakness and seek root causes, select priorities, create a plan, implement, measure impact, modify as needed and repeat. Of course, stakeholder engagement is a vital part of this prioritization process. Once you have prioritized, consider your sphere of influence such as your partners, suppliers, clients, competitors, etc and consider how you can begin to make an impact beyond your own organization.
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As I have written in Becoming a Sustainable Organization, creating a corporate social responsibility organization is a journey. While the ride may be bumpy the creation of a world where the SDGs are achieved will mean a better life on planet earth for all. Best wishes for your CSR journey!