ISO 26000 offers guidance on socially responsible behavior and possible actions. There are three ways it is different from the more widespread standards designed for companies to use to meet particular requirements for activities such as manufacturing, managing, accounting and reporting.
We Work With ISO 26000
- ISO 26000 is a voluntary guidance standard that does not contain requirements such as those used when a standard is offered for “certification”. There is a certain learning curve associated with using ISO 26000, because there is no specific external reward – certification – explicitly tied to ISO 26000. ISO recommends that users say, for example, that they have “used ISO 26000 as a guide to integrate social responsibility into our values and practices.”
- ISO 26000 is designed for use by all organizations, not only businesses and corporations. Organizations, such as hospitals and schools, charities (not-for-profits), etc. are also included. ISO 26000 makes particular efforts to show that its flexibility means that it can be applied by small businesses and other groups as well. So far, many of the earliest users of ISO 26000 have been multi-national corporations, especially those based in Europe, and East Asia, particularly Japan.
- ISO 26000 was developed through a multi-stakeholder process, meeting in eight Working Group Plenary Sessions between 2005 and 2010, with additional committee meetings and consultations on e-mail throughout the five-year process. Approximately five hundred delegates participated in this process, drawn from six stakeholder groups: Industry, Government, NGO (non-governmental organization), Labor, Consumer, and SSRO (Service, Support, Research and Others – primarily academics and consultants). Leadership of various task groups and committees was “twinned” between “developing” and “developed” countries, to ensure viewpoints from different economic and cultural contexts. Since ISO operates on a parliamentary procedure form based on consensus, the final agreed-on standard was the result of deliberation and negotiations; no one group was able to block it, but also no one group was able to achieve its objectives when others strongly disagreed. The goal was to make ISO 26000 accessible and usable by all organizations, in different countries, precisely because it reflects the goals and concerns of each and all of the stakeholder groups in its final compromise form.