An In-Depth Review of ISO 26000
Organizations do not exist in a bubble. Both small and large organizations are a part of broader economic, political and societal systems. They therefore need to recognize and support the wellbeing of the communities within which they operate. The easiest way to do this is by initiating corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.
In 2005, stakeholders drawn from different industries came together to define the standards for CSR. Their work was split between eight events that were held over five years (2005-2010). Five hundred different organizations participated in the events. The discussions resulted in the establishment of the ISO 26000:2010 standard.
ISO 26000 is a set of standards that establish CSR guidelines and principles. These standards also offer suggestions on how different organizations (SMEs, NGOs, trade unions, etc.) can operate in a socially responsible manner. The ISO 26000 standard is intended to provide guidance and not for certification purposes. It guides on:
- Recognizing CSR and engaging relevant stakeholders
- Incorporating CSR into your operational setup
- The principles of CSR
ISO 26000 highlights seven key principles as the basis of socially responsible behavior:
- Ethical behavior
- Adherence to the human rights law
- Respect for international treaties and norms of behavior
- Respect for stakeholder interests
- Respect for the rule of law
The standard also breaks down its seven key principles into seven core subjects to make them easier to tackle. These subjects are organizational governance, fair labor practices, human rights, environmental responsibility, consumer issues, fair operating practices and community participation and development.
ISO 26000 Certification in Kenya
Kenya has established itself as a regional leader as far as ISO 26000 certification is concerned. Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Ports Authority, Tata Chemicals Magadi Limited, KOFINAF CO. LTD, and East African Portland Cement Co. Ltd are some of the businesses/organizations that have received ISO 26000 certifications in Kenya.
How Can ISO 26000 benefit your organization
Before you get to understand why the ISO 26000 standard is essential in today’s corporate world, you first need to ask yourself: What constitutes socially responsible and ethical behavior by organizations? Well, although it is not mandatory, every organization should be responsible for the wellbeing of the community in which it operates. This includes going over and above their core functions to support local community initiatives. ISO 26000 is intended to:
- Help organizations and businesses to address their social responsibilities
- Offer practical guidelines for enacting the principles of social responsibility
- Enhance general awareness of the concept of social responsibility
- Help businesses and organizations to pinpoint and communicate with relevant stakeholders on matters relating to social responsibility
- Enhance stakeholder and customer satisfaction
- Supplement international treaties and conventions, government regulations and existing ISO standards that promote socially responsible business operations.
Excellent organizational performance in matters relating to social responsibility also fosters relationships with stakeholders such as the media, governments, and employees, thus improving brand image and reputation.
Which organizations need ISO 26000?
The core principles of the ISO 26000 standard apply to organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. They also apply to both small and businesses. Since these principles cover various issues, your organization will benefit fully when it identifies the most relevant issues that it should address. This can be done through dialogue with relevant stakeholders.
It is important to note that unlike other ISO standards, ISO 26000 does not give rise to certification. Therefore, it is not easy to evaluate the effectiveness of the standard or even quantify its ROI. Nonetheless, by helping you manage your social responsibilities programs effectively, ISO 26000 goes a long way in enabling your organization to meet its CSR and business objectives.
Getting started with ISO 26000
ISO 26000 certification is fundamental to the short-term and long-term success of your organization. It enables you to handle today’s issues and prepare for tomorrow. However, the ISO 26000 standard is not only expansive but also complicated. While seeking to get certified, knowing how or where to start can be difficult. Thankfully, ISO provides guidelines on how you can go about the entire certification process.
It is best to start by identifying the principles and core subjects that are relevant to your organization. This way, you will be able to create and implement strategies for incorporating the ISO 26000 standard into your organizational setup. ISO also urges users to report their social responsibility performance at appropriate intervals to its stakeholders. The report should include information on the objectives and performance of the core subjects in matters relating to social responsibility, stakeholders’ involvement in the entire process, and the achievements and shortfalls of CSR activities undertaken within that period.
All businesses and organizations should operate in a socially responsible manner. The ISO 26000 standard helps you to assess your organization’s commitment to its objectives and sustainability. Although ISO 26000 certification isn’t mandatory, it proves that you adhere to the best practices as far as social responsibility is concerned.
Written by Angela – Reciprocity Outreach Team