ISO 26000 is designed to assist public and private organizations in contributing to a more sustainable global economy by establishing common guidance on social responsibility concepts, definitions, and methods of evaluation. It is intended for use by organizations in both developed and developing areas of the world, as well as economies in transition.
"Operating in a socially responsible manner is no longer an option," said ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele. "It is becoming a requirement of society worldwide. What makes ISO 26000 exceptional among the many already existing social responsibility initiatives is that it distills a truly international consensus on what social responsibility means and what core subjects need to be addressed to implement it."
The standard complements existing public- and private-sector SR initiatives, including intergovernmental agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, developed respectively by the UN and its constituent organization the International Labour Organization. It offers voluntary guidance, rather than requirements, for socially responsible behavior. As such, it is not for use as a certification standard like ISO 9000 for quality management or ISO 14001 for environmental management.
ISO 26000 was developed over the last six years by the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (ISO/WG SR), comprised of representatives from 99 ISO member countries including the United States, plus 42 liaison organizations representing industry, government, society, and consumers. In terms of stakeholder representation, ISO/WG SR was the largest and most broadly based of any single group formed to develop an ISO standard.
The ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the ISO SR working group is administered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ). In this capacity, ASQ staff provides administrative facilitation for all aspects of the TAG's work.
ISO will hold a press conference today at the Geneva International Conference in Geneva to mark the launch of the new standard. The event will feature an introduction by Mr. Steele and insights from several members of ISO/WG SR. For more information on ISO 26000 click here.
For more information on the history of ISO 26000's development, see these related ANSI news items:
ISO Releases Draft International Standard on Social Responsibility (September 14, 2009)
U.S. Input Sought for Draft ISO Standard on Social Responsibility (December 23, 2008)