Getting on track with the new Social Responsibility standard

September 9th, 2011

The arrival of ISO 26000 has created the demand to reassess workplace standards and compliance with relevant legalities. Managing social responsibility has become paramount in an increasingly legally bound corporate environment, so following a guide to ensure quality in this regard is a must. From handling environment issues to addressing human rights, the down-to-earth guide was compiled by experts drawn from society.

Seven core sections
Within any workplace, a series of important issues must be addressed in order to achieve effective work habits:

  • Governance
  • Human rights
  • Labour practices
  • Environment
  • Operating practices
  • Consumer rights
  • Community rights

All core issues are considered important, as they have the capacity to impact
performance and interaction with the outside world. However, ninety-three
percent of 993 CEOs part of UN Global Impact network believe that corporate
governance, social and environmental issues are important for their future
success. Even though corporate leadership recognise the importance, an ASQ
survey of more than 1,000 quality professionals revealed less than 30% saw
their organisation’s SR efforts as prominent in daily operations.

Systematically employing SR standards
Simply buying the SR standard guide and leaving it sitting on a shelf is not enough to illicit real benefits from the investment. Some techniques used by businesses to actively implement the standards and monitor progress include installing and SR officer or SR team within the company. However, these officers and teams are less effective due to little experience in the new industry. Addressing SR issues as they arise is a common approach as the practice is still in early stages of evolution, but a more systematic approach is required.

Genuine management support is essential for quality improvement in governance, such as active encouragement of following company legislation and procedures. Offering appropriate incentive for compliance, and discouraging transgressions are effective forms of quality governance.

Human rights and labour practices
Quality human rights and labour practices include things such as offering paid, optional overtime, rather than forcing overtime upon employees. Discrimination issues need to be addressed under this category, to ensure no discriminatory practices exist within the workplace. A company must always offer scope to improve qualifications and provide opportunities for greater income.

Environmental, community and consumer responsibility
Environmental responsibility and community development go hand-in-hand, as any dangerous or destructive environmental practices will directly affect the surrounding community. The new SR standard revisits waste management and minimisation, environmental protection, biodiversity and habitat protection. Consumers are also becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, and providing them with fairly marketed sustainable, healthy and safe products is essential.

Every organisation is different, and therefore will vary in the way social responsibilities are recognized and addressed. While some SR decisions may seem costly and with no immediate advantage, using the guide to make crucial business decisions will have unquestionable positive effects in the long term.