Ethical business: protecting our planetand the people on it
A consumer’s guide to the social responsibility standard - ISO 26000:2010
The globalization of business has broken down international barriers and made the world seem a smaller place. And advances in media technology have made it easier for us to find out what’s going on in different parts of the world –from environmental disasters and unethical practices such as child labour, to dangerous working conditions and corruption. This knowledge has made many of us think not only about what we buy but how the goods and services we buy are produced.
Of course, cost, quality and customer service are still important, but more consumers are now interested in a company’s ethics and principles too. During the last 10 years UK spending on ethical goods, such as fair trade food, energy-efficient household goods and ethical financial services, has trebled. This increasing awareness has put pressure on all types of organizations to behave in a more socially responsible way, as they realise that the way they act is important to consumers and can benefit their organization in the long run. In a nutshell, a socially responsible organization is one that runs itself in a way that respects our planet and the people on it. It can achieve this by:
• Protecting human rights• Treating workers fairly• Avoiding discrimination• Respecting the environment• Protecting consumers and• Helping to improve the local communities that it works in.
But if an organization wants to start being socially responsible, or improve the way that it operates, how does it know whereto start and what to do? That’s where ISO 26000 can help.
ISO 26000 – The basics
The standard was developed and published by ISO – the international standards body of which the UK standards body (BSI) is a member. ISO 26000 can be used by all types of organizations all over the world, regardless of their size or activity. For example, it might be used by private businesses, government agencies and departments as well as charities or voluntary organizations. ISO 26000 gives detailed guidance for organizations on how to become more socially responsible and integrate socially responsible behaviour into all levels of their business. It sets out society’s basic expectations for social and environmental performance and gives practical advice on how to achieve these. The standard simplifies things for everyone by giving common definitions, working practices and methods of evaluation.