SR dynamics; “SR” stands for “social responsibility”
Social responsibility is full of dynamics
The world of organizations presents an extremely diverse picture. It ranges from a single person business or a family owned bakery around the corner with a few workers to globally operating enterprises with many thousands of employees. It covers all different types of organizations and ownership structures. All organizations have their own unique leadership, organizational culture and operating methods and environment, all of which may vary substantially over time.
In other words, each organization may differ from others;
- At a point in time
- In its own priorities
- In the nature of its leadership
- In the goods and services it provides
- In its competitive environment
- In its workers or employees
- In its relationships with external partners and other parties
- In regard to its economic climate
- In regard to its environmental issues
- In the expectations of society in general, and particularly in local cultures and values
- In its understanding and practice of social responsibility
- In the maturity and stability of the political, legislative and regulatory environment in which it operates
One can regard “social responsibility” as an umbrella over such organization-specific parameters, all of which will change over time, like a natural evolution driven by competition, creativity, innovation and a changing operating environment. It can be seen therefore that the scope and priority of an organization’s social responsibility issues will also change over time, and sometimes rather rapidly. (See the section “ISO 26000 certification, a word!”).
ISO has taken a wise decision
With these dynamics in mind, ISO has taken a wise decision to draft a guidance standard, i.e. a standard that offers recommendations and advice, which can be adapted, adopted or expanded to suit each organization. If ISO had produced a requirements standard (only a very few minimum requirements would have been agreeable by international consensus) it would have paved the way for a minimalist approach to social responsibility thus
counter-productively killing issue-specific creativity and a broader view of SR (one would wrongly believe everything to have been done by fulfilling only those minimum requirements). In consequence: effective SR is voluntary.
SR is voluntary
Law and regulation, too, can only describe minimum SR requirements. Therefore, the general understanding is that
SR measures should extend beyond compliance with laws and regulations; so, also from this viewpoint, SR can only be voluntary.