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ISO 26000 – Social responsibility

NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland), together with Geneva based ISO (International Standards Organisation), has today launched the world’s first standard on Social Responsibility. The standard, ISO 26000:2010, Guidance on Social Responsibility, was developed by representatives from more than 80 countries worldwide, including Ireland, and will assist organisations in their efforts to operate in the socially responsible manner that society increasingly demands. Is doing good good for business?

Maurice Buckley, CEO, NSAI, said, “One only has to look at, for example, sporting goods manufacturers using child labour or the Gulf Coast oil spills to see how consumers purchasing patterns change when socially irresponsible practices come to light. This new standard was developed because there was a clear market requirement for it. The ethical, legal, environmental and moral behaviour of companies continues to grow in importance to consumers. This standard is about helping businesses respond to consumer demands for assurances that they are ‘doing no harm’ when they buy a product or service. Consumers now want and expect businesses to have a positive impact on the world around them if they are to be perceived as responsible.”

The new standard is the world’s first on social responsibility. It provides organisations of all sizes and types with best practice guidance in social responsibility, taking into account societal, environmental, legal, cultural, and political and organisation diversity, as well as differences in economic considerations. ISO 26000 will explain what Social Responsibility (SR) means, what issues an organisation needs to address in order to operate in a socially responsible manner, and what is best practice in implementing SR.

According to the standard, the perception and reality of an organisation's performance on social responsibility can influence, among other things, competitive advantage, reputation, the ability to attract and retain workers or customers, employees' morale and productivity, the view of investors, and the financial community and relationship with government, the media, customers and the community in which it operates.

“Far-sighted leaders recognise that lasting success must be built on credible business practices and the prevention of activities, such as, labour exploitation,” added Buckley. “By adopting the ISO 26000 approach and operating in a socially responsible manner, Irish companies can demonstrate to their stakeholders and their consumers the commitment to making real differences in their business practices, thus increasing their competitiveness and building their reputation.”

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