Becoming Socially Responsible
1 September 2004 at 1:09 pm
The International Organisation for Standardisation [ISO] is developing new international guidelines to help improve social responsibility.
Standards Australia, Australia’s representative of the ISO is expected to adopt the guidelines as Australian Standards (R) next year.
The objective is to produce a guidance document, written in plain language that is understandable and useable by non-specialists and not intended for use in certification.
The decision was taken at a senior ISO management meeting on 24-25 June 2004 in Stockholm
The Chief Executive of Standards Australia, John Tucker says recent corporate scandals and movies such as Super Size Me, which graphically depicted the perceived social impact of multinational organisations, have focussed attention on the issue of social responsibility.
Tucker says this issue effects all organisations, large publicly listed companies, private companies, Not for Profit organisations, and government agencies alike, and is being driven by the global community’s desire to see organisations become more accountable for their impacts on society.
He says in recent times there have seen a number of organisations such as
McDonalds’s developing its own social responsibility criteria in response to widespread community concerns.
He says initially, one of the major challenges to be faced by all organisations will be how to define their social impacts and their responsibilities.
The proposed standard will address issues such as:
– The role of business in society;
– The expectations society has on organisations;
– Compliance with and beyond the law;
– The impact of business activity and the results of those impacts on society;
– The role of management in managing social impacts;
– Effectiveness of management systems;
– Philanthropic activities;
– Measuring and improving performance on social, environmental and economic performance; and
– Reporting performance to those who are impacted.
According to John Tucker business is no longer simply about profit and performance, increasingly companies are having to integrate social and environmental concerns into their everyday operations.
As a result, he says all organisations need to be aware of the impacts they are having on the environment and the people around them.
He says it’s hoped that the development of standards in this area will also help to encourage the promotion of a more level playing field so that organisations in developing countries can compete on a more even footing.
To develop the Social Responsibility Standard, ISO has formed a task force, which is due to deliver its initial findings in September 2004.
For more information on the ISO Guidelines go to www.iso.org.