The building of international consensus on voluntary guidance to help organizations operate in a socially responsible way made progress at the recent meeting of the ISO group that is developing the future ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility.



The ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (WG SR) held its third plenary meeting on 15-19 May 2006 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The WG officers pictured here are, from left: Sophie Clivio, Technical Group Manager, ISO Central Secretariat; Sara Ellström, WG Secretariat; Kristina Sandberg, WG Secretary; Staffan Söderberg, WG Vice Chair; Jorge E.R. Cajazeira, WG Chair, and Eduardo Campos de São Thiago, WG Co-Secretary


Some 320 people from 55 countries and 26 international organizations attended the third plenary meeting of the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (WG SR) on 15-19 May 2006 in Lisbon, Portugal.

ISO 26000 is intended for use by organizations of all types, in both public and private sectors, in developed and developing countries. ISO 26000 will contain guidelines, not requirements. It is not a management system standard and will not be for use as a certification standard like ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004. It is now expected to be published in the first quarter of 2009.

Drafting of the content of the standard is in progress and at Lisbon, one of the main tasks was to review some 2 100 comments from WG SR members on the first working draft. This work will continue in order to produce a second working draft for circulation and comment before the next WG SR meeting in early 2007.

ISO 26000 is being developed by representatives of the six main stakeholder groups: industry; government: labour; consumers; nongovernmental organizations; and service, support, research and others. In addition, efforts are made to maintain a geographical and gender-based balance of participants.

The guidance in ISO 26000 will draw on best practices developed by existing public and private sector SR initiatives. It will be consistent with and complement relevant declarations and conventions by the United Nations and its constituents, notably the International Labour Organization (ILO), with whom ISO has established a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure consistency with ILO labour standards .

In addition to the work on the content of the standard, the Lisbon meeting further defined the WG SR’s operating framework in order to strengthen participation and accountability. The WG SR also continues to develop communication tools for promoting SR awareness throughout the world, the significance of the ISO standard, and how diverse interests may most effectively contribute to the shaping of the ISO 26000 standard and to other social responsibility activities.

Communication tools include a dedicated Web site www.iso.org/sr with an abundance of material on ISO’s SR initiative, including the brand new brochure, Participating in the future International Standard ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility. This brochure will also be made available in Arabic, Finnish, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

The Lisbon meeting was co-hosted by the Portuguese Organization of Business Ethics (APEE – Associaçao Portuguesa do Ético Empresarial) and The Portuguese Quality Institute (IPQ – the Instituto Portugues do Qualidad), with financial support from Portuguese organizations, notably the Portuguese postal services (CTT) and Groundforce Portugal. Messages for the success of the WG SR’s work were sent by both the President and the Prime Minister of Portugal.

The joint WG SR leaders had the following comments on the Lisbon meeting. Chair, Mr. Jorge E.R. Cajazeira, nominated by the ISO member for Brazil, ABNT, said: “This meeting was an important landmark on the road and progress towards ISO 26000.”

Vice-Chair, Mr. Staffan Söderberg, nominated by the ISO member for Sweden, SIS, remarked: “Working through all the comments on the first working draft was the main objective of the meeting and my perception is that the experts feel the key topics that captured their comments were addressed and the objective was met – and that was very positive for me.”

The next meeting of the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility will take place in January or February 2007 in Sydney, Australia.