Social responsibility is an indispensable part of the vision and strategy of successful organizations. How can SR be implemented in organizations? How do organizations determine priorities for SR? How can the organization establish a high level of acceptance for the SR policy?
ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, launched an International Standard providing guidelines for social responsibility (SR) named ISO 26000 or simply ISO SR. Its goal is to contribute to global sustainable development, by encouraging business and other organizations to practice social responsibility to improve their impacts on their workers, their natural environments and their communities.
Note: ISO 26000 is voluntary in use. This is a guidance document that offers suggestions, advice, proposals and recommendations. It contains no requirements and therefore cannot be basis for certification, measurement or conformity assessment.
Understanding ISO 26000
The guidance provided by ISO 26000 is intended to be clear and understandable – even to non-specialists – as well as objective and applicable to all types of organization, including big business and small and medium-sized enterprises, public administrations and governmental organizations.
Here is a schematic overview of the 7 clauses included in ISO 26000:
ISO 26000 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.
- Labor 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 neighbor.
Free tools for applying ISO 26000
For the practical application of ISO 26000 a number of free tools have been developed which are both powerful and user-friendly:
- Issue matrix
- Stakeholder communication matrix
- Implementation matrix
- Step-by-step plan
1 – Issue matrix
The issue matrix is actually an issue-stakeholder-process matrix, but is simply referred to as issue matrix.
In practice, this matrix appears to be the central tool for SR prioritization. The tool also helps gain insight into the connection between relevant SR issues, stakeholder interests and own processes.
The matrix has a twofold objective:
- Making the relations between the 37 SR issues and the stakeholders and processes of the organization transparent;
- Mapping the relevance, significance and priority of each issue.
2 – Stakeholder-communication matrix
The stakeholder communication matrix is a tool that displays the SR communication with stakeholders. It enables the organization to obtain an overview of the SR issues and the required communication about those issues with stakeholders. The matrix uses important input from the issue matrix.
The matrix has a twofold objective:
- Providing an overview of the SR communication with stakeholders;
- Involving the organization and assigning those responsible.
3 – Implementation matrix
The implementation matrix maps important process steps for the implementation of SR. The tool has been developed because it has been requested by a number of SR management groups for achieving an overview of the implementation’s coordination.
The matrix has been derived from the step-by-step plan below.
4 – Step-by-step plan
The step-by-step plan provides an overview of the process steps and actions for SR implementation included in all ISO 26000 sub-clauses.
This step-by-step plan is in keeping with the guidance of ISO 26000 and does justice to the iterative character of the SR integration process. SR integration is a process of learning and growing, and steps are regularly reconsidered. An example of this could be in order to improve the SR policy or to adjust SR issues.
IsoMetrix and ISO 26000
Metrix Software Solutions is a leading South African based supplier of integrated Governance, Risk and Compliance management software. IsoMetrix is an agile application, thus its business model is to customise its solution to match its client processes and procedures. ISO 26000 is applicable through IsoMetrix Social Sustainability solution and monitored through IsoMetrix Compliance Management solution. Isometrix has a global footprint with more than 60,000 users. Learn more: www.isometrix.com
Handbook for Implementers of ISO 26000, Global Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility