ISO26000 (2010) Social Responsibility

ISO, the International Organisation for Standardisation launched an International Standard providing guidelines for social responsibility (SR) named ISO 26000 or simply ISO SR. It was released on 1 November 2010. Its goal is to contribute to global sustainable development, by encouraging business and other organizations to practice social responsibility to improve their impacts on their workers, their natural environments and their communities.

SO 26000 offers guidance on socially responsible behaviour and possible actions.

Key principles are as follows:-.

  • ISO 26000 is a voluntary guidance standard- that is, it does not contain requirements such as those used when a standard is offered for “certification”. As a result and because there is no specific external reward – certification – explicitly tied to ISO 26000, ISO recommends that users say that they have “used ISO 26000 as a guide to integrate social responsibility into our values and practices.”
  • ISO 26000 is designed for use by all organisations, not only businesses and corporations. Organisations, such as hospitals and schools, charities (not-for-profits) are also included. ISO 26000 makes particular efforts to show that its flexibility means that it can be applied by small businesses and other groups as well.  So far, many of the earliest users of ISO 26000 have been multi-national corporations, especially those based in Europe, and East Asia, particularly Japan.
  • ISO 26000 was developed through a multi-stakeholder process, meeting in eight Working Group Plenary Sessions between 2005 and 2010, with additional committee meetings and consultations on e-mail throughout the five year process. Approximately five hundred delegates participated in this process, drawn from six stakeholder groups: Industry, Government, NGO (non-governmental organization), Labour, Consumer, and SSRO (Service, Support, Research and Others – primarily academics and consultants). Leadership of various task groups and committees was “twinned” between “developing” and “developed” countries, to ensure viewpoints from different economic and cultural contexts. Since ISO operates on a parliamentary procedure form based on consensus, the final agreed-on standard was the result of deliberation and negotiations; no one group was able to block it, but also no one group was able to achieve its objectives when others strongly disagreed. The goal was to make ISO 26000 accessible and usable by all organizations, in different countries, precisely because it reflects the goals and concerns of each and all of the stakeholder groups in its final compromise form.
ISO 26000 is available for sale by National Standards Bodies in many countries and copyrighted by ISO. See the ISO webpage at for more information.

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EU Non-Financial Information Disclosure (April 2014)

On 15 April 2014 the plenary of the European Parliament adopted the directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies and groups. The directive will enter into force once adopted by the Council and published in the EU Official Journal. Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and outcomes as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity in their board of directors. The new rules will only apply to some large companies with more than 500 employees. In particular, large public-interest entities with more than 500 employees will be required to disclose certain non-financial information in their management report. This includes listed companies as well as some unlisted companies, such as banks, insurance companies, and other companies that are so designated by Member States because of their activities, size or number of employees. The scope includes approx. 6 000 large companies and groups across the EU.

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EU GECES Social Impact Measurement (June 2014)

The Single Market Act states that “the Commission will develop a methodology to measure the socio-economic benefits created by social enterprises.

The development of rigorous and systematic measurements of social enterprises’ impact on the community … is essential to demonstrate that the money invested in social enterprises yields high savings and income”.

The GECES sub-group was therefore set up in October 2012 to agree upon a European methodology which could be applied across the European social economy.

The report on Social Impact Measurement developed by the Sub-group was formally adopted by the GECES on June 3.

The impact measurement standard (the “Standard”) is designed to be applicable across Europe – for social enterprises as well as for public and private funders of social enterprise and is a further step towards illustrating the socio-economic value created by social enterprises and funders throughout Europe. The Standard is informed by EVPA’s Practical Guide; a recently launched resource that distils best practice in impact measurement into five easy-to-understand steps to implement impact measurement. Impact measurement is a key component of the venture philanthropy and social investment model and has been a focal point of EVPA’s research and knowledge-building in the past years. In coming to a set of standards capable of wide application under EuSEF, EaSI and beyond, a distinction is drawn between four elements in producing a meaningful measurement of social impact. They are as follows:

  • PROCESS – The series of steps or stages by which a Social Enterprise or Fund investigates, understands and presents how its activities achieve change (outcomes) and impact in the lives of service-users and stakeholders.
  • FRAMEWORK – For each major area of social enterprise interventions, a list of the most usual outcomes being targeted, and, for each of these outcomes, a series of sub-outcomes that again appear most regularly.
  • Examples would include, for an intervention relating to supporting ex-prisoners at risk of reoffending, outcomes such as not re-offending over a twelve-month period, and gaining full time employment, with sub-outcomes of engaging in retraining for the workplace, and keeping on a substance abuse support programme, and changing social circle to engage with mentors.
  • INDICATOR – A particular way of attaching a value or measure to those outcomes and impacts. Examples include financial measures of savings in state funding, or productivity gains, well-being scores.
  • CHARACTERISTICS (of good measurement) – Those features of the reported measurement of the outcomes and impacts from an intervention or activity that mean that it should be recognised and relied upon as valid.


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