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U.S. Technical Advisory Group Reaches Consensus National Position on Draft ISO Standard on Social Responsibility

New York, Mar 11, 2009

The U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Organization for Standardization Working Group on Social Responsibility (ISO SR) reached a consensus among group members during its February 22-24, 2009, meeting. The gathering was held to review the Committee Draft (CD) of ISO 26000, Social Responsibility and to develop an official U.S. position on the standard.

What is ISO 26000?

ISO 26000, Social Responsibility, is intended 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).

ISO SR issued the draft in mid-December for the first round of national consensus position and comment development. At that time, all interested U.S. parties were encouraged to obtain and review the draft standard and to develop their input for consideration by the full TAG. [see related article]

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

Chaired by Mary McKiel, Ph.D., standards executive for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the TAG met in Palo Alto, California, to discuss the contents of the CD, develop comments, and reach consensus on the U.S. position on the draft standard’s potential progression to the next level of development – the Draft International Standard (DIS) stage.

The meeting, which was conducted according to rules recently submitted by the TAG and approved by ANSI’s Executive Standards Council, was attended by technical experts from a number of relevant stakeholder categories including industry, consumer, non-government organizations (NGOs), services and others, and government.

After reviewing the CD and considering the related stakeholder comments – which expressed widespread support for moving forward to the DIS stage – TAG members reached full consensus on a number of key points to be submitted as comments. Attendees agreed that if these issues are addressed, the U.S. will likely approve the move to the DIS level.

“The open discussions that took place during this meeting among all of the groups that attended gave everyone a better understanding of the diverse points, ideas, and issues related to social responsibility,” said Dr. McKiel. “It was like light bulbs of understanding suddenly brightened over everyone’s heads!”

Meeting attendees successfully drafted a document that was submitted to the full TAG membership as a written ballot. Voting is now complete, and the TAG administrator submitted the final results to ANSI. The Institute will now transmit the position to the ISO SR working group before March 12, 2009.

“One of the clearest outcomes of the meeting was an appreciation from everyone present of how important the work of the ISO SR has been to date,” said Dr. McKiel. “TAG members are very hopeful that U.S. key comments can be incorporated into the document so that we can continue with its positive progression.”

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 standard would be ready for publication by the end of 2010 or early 2011.

For more information or to join the U.S. TAG to the ISO SR, contact Jennifer Admussen of ASQ staff (

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