10 years of ISO 26000 leading social responsibility

Governance Standards – Guidance on Social Responsibility

10 years of ISO 26000 leading social responsibility
November 2020 marks ten years since the publication of a ground-breaking International Standard for social responsibility.
By Barnaby Lewis on 27 November 2020

The development of ISO 26000 was a standardization project of unusually large scope, representing an ambitious addition to a catalogue of standards addressing environmental management and sustainability. That journey began with ISO 14001, which further broadened the scope of ISO’s work from the industrial, technical and quality standards for which it’s best known. Wide participation was integral to the concept of developing a new International Standard that could be applied to almost every sector imaginable.

The result was a specialized project committee that would draw on the combined knowledge and input of more than 500 global experts. Around 80 countries contributed, together with bodies like the International Organization of Employers and consumer groups. When it was published in November 2010, ISO 26000 set new firsts, both for consensus building in standardization, and a comprehensive set of guidelines that increased engagement and recognition of social responsibility…

To ensure consistency around the time of its launch, ISO entered into special agreements with the ILO, the Global Compact, the GRI and the OECD. As a result, ISO 26000 was probably the most inclusive sustainability standard for the issues it covered.

ISO 26000 gives guidance, not requirements. It can’t be certified to, but companies and other organizations can use it as a framework to query and improve their approach to social responsibility, disclosing data and reporting on how they are using the standard to commit to real change. The subjects at the core of ISO 26000 have influenced the way that companies do business, how they treat their employees and how they assess and limit the impact of their activities. While society has made progress in many areas over the last decade, the guidance of ISO 26000 remains relevant to addressing today’s challenges. With many being forced to reassess the way that they do business in the light of COVID-19, the importance of social responsibility has come to the fore as a component of building a more resilient and more equitable society.

The guidance of ISO 26000 is needed more than ever when it comes to implementing a recognized approach to
:: human rights,
:: labour practices,
:: the environment,
:: fair operating practices,
:: consumer issues, and
:: community involvement and development.