Standard for social responsibility launched

Issue 22 – November 2010

On 1 November 2010 Guidance on social responsibility ISO 26000:2010 was launched at an event in Geneva, Switzerland. ISO 26000 provides guidance on social responsibility to both business and public sector organisations.

ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele says, 'The publication of ISO 26000 has been eagerly awaited by organisations worldwide, whether they are business enterprises or public sector organisations. Operating in a socially responsible manner is no longer an option. It is becoming a requirement of society worldwide. What makes ISO 26000 exceptional among the many already existing social responsibility initiatives is that it distils a truly international consensus on what social responsibility means and what core subjects need to be addressed to implement it. In addition, it is based on broad stakeholder input, including developing countries, business, government, consumers, labour, non-governmental organisations, and others.'

According to ISO 26000, the perception and reality of an organisation's performance on social responsibility can influence:

  • competitive advantage
  • reputation
  • ability to attract and retain workers or members, customers, clients, or users
  • maintenance of employees' morale, commitment, and productivity
  • views of investors, owners, donors, sponsors, and the financial community
  • relationships with companies, governments, the media, suppliers, peers, customers, and the community in which it operates.

The membership of the ISO working group 'Social responsibility' (ISO/WG SR) was the largest and had the broadest base of stakeholder representatives of any single group formed to develop an ISO Standard. In July 2010, the ISO/WG SR had 450 participating experts and 210 observers from 99 ISO member countries and 42 liaison organisations. New Zealand is an observer on ISO/WG SR. ISO/WG SR was under the joint leadership of the ISO members for Brazil and Sweden.

ISO 26000 provides guidance on:

  • concepts, terms, and definitions related to social responsibility
  • background, trends, and characteristics of social responsibility
  • principles and practices relating to social responsibility
  • core subjects and issues of social responsibility
  • integrating, implementing, and promoting socially responsible behaviour throughout the organisation and, through its policies and practices, within its sphere of influence
  • identifying and engaging with stakeholders
  • communicating commitments, performance, and other information related to social responsibility.

ISO 26000 is a voluntary guidance Standard that is not to be used for certification.

In anticipation of the publication of ISO 26000, the 'Today, I have a dream' video ( was developed by ISO to show social responsibility through the eyes of children.

Download the pdf of the project overview of ISO 26000 (

Email to order ISO 26000:2010 Guidance on social responsibility or call 0800 782 632 during business hours.

You can order PDFs of ISO, IEC, BSI, AS, and ASTM Standards a by calling 0800 782 632 during business hours or emailing

Related Touchstone articles

Published in international.