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U.S. Input Sought for Draft ISO Standard on Social Responsibility

New York, Dec 19, 2008

A special working group established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has issued for review and comment a new draft standard on Social Responsibility (ISO 26000). The standard’s intent is to assist in ushering companies, government agencies, and other organizations toward a more sustainable global economy by establishing common guidance on social responsibility concepts, definitions, and methods of evaluation. It is also intended for use by organizations in both developed and developing areas of the world.

The proposed standard will complement existing public- and private-sector Social Responsibility (SR) initiatives, including inter-governmental 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 (ILO).

Within ISO, the first round of national consensus position and comment development is known as the Committee Draft (CD) stage of voting and commenting. During this stage, the national standards bodies of those countries registered as members of the activity will organize their national mirror committees to review the draft and to decide on the national position and any comments to be submitted to ISO.

The decision taken at the CD stage is whether or not there is sufficient support for the draft standard to advance to the next stage of ISO’s processes, which is called the Draft International Standard (DIS) stage.

At the CD stage the national mirror committee members will review the standard and decide by consensus whether they feel the draft standard can advance, perhaps with minor comments. Conversely, the national mirror committee may decide that there are substantial concerns with the text that must be addressed and resolved before the document can advance to the next stage.

Upon reaching general consensus among the ISO working group experts, the draft was issued in mid-December for the first round of national consensus position and comment development.

National body positions and comments on the proposed text are expected from each national standards body that is registered as a member of the ISO activity. Though practices differ slightly from country to country, most nations have a national mirror committee of subject matter experts that develop the national consensus position. In the United States, these committees are known as Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs).

As the U.S. member of ISO, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has accredited the American Society for Quality (ASQ) as administrator of the U.S. TAG for the ISO Social Responsibility activity. In this capacity, ASQ staff provides administrative facilitation for all aspects of the TAG’s work.

TAG members and other interested U.S. parties are encouraged to obtain and review the draft standard and to develop their input for consideration by the full TAG.

ASQ will be making additional information on the CD, the comment submittal process, and TAG membership available via its website,

National body votes and comments on the ISO 26000 CD are due by March 12, 2009.

The U.S. TAG will be meeting in Palo Alto, California on February 23 through 25, 2009, where it will attempt to finalize the U.S. position on the CD ballot. TAG members and other interested parties must submit comments in advance of this meeting to help ensure that all comments may be compiled for consideration at the meeting.

Comments on the ISO CD should be directed to

Following the close of CD voting, the ISO SR working group will meet in May 2009 in Canada to review the results of national body voting, consider comments received, and decide on the advancement of the draft standard to the ISO DIS stage. If progress on the document’s development continues according to normal ISO timelines, it is expected that the final ISO 26000 SR standard would be ready for publication by the end of 2010 or early 2011.

For further information, please contact either Steven Cornish of ANSI staff ( or Jennifer Admussen of ASQ staff (

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