On 9th November 2012 in Geneva, ISO–the International Organization for Standardization, in collaboration with the CEOs for National Standards Bodies (NSB) for East Africa launched the project on the Uptake and Use of ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility in East Africa. In the country, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) is spearheading the project.
The timeframe of the project is one year, expected to wind up in November 2013.
Three pilot countries; namely, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are participating in the project, which is being funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of BMZ, Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.
The overarching objective for the project is to build capacity within each of the selected countries, using the national standards body as the central pivot. The principles of country ownership, effectiveness and accountability are applied during the project’s implementation. The project covers a series of activities including:
1. Training of National Experts on ISO 26000 –
This was conducted in January 2013, where ten national experts were trained on ISO 26000. Each pilot organization has been assigned two national experts to take the organization through the awareness and implementation of the standard.
2. Selection of Pilot Organizations –
Six volunteer pilot organizations were picked in January to participate in the project, following a defined criterion by ISO, and targeted both public and private sectors. The picked organizations include Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd., Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), Kofinaf, and Kenya Portlands Cement. The organizations singed an MoU with the KEBS with a commitment to support the project.
3. National Awareness Workshop –
Each country is to hold two National awareness workshops. In Kenya, this was held on 5th June 2013 at Red Court Hotel, and attracted good participation of both public and privates sectors. Three flower farms participated in the workshop.
The workshop aimed at reaching more organizations and creating awareness for the Social Responsibility Standard.
The second awareness workshop shall be held in October 2013. The actual dates shall be communicated once firmed up by KEBS.
4. Regional Workshop for national experts –
This was held on 3rd – 5th July 2013 at Red Court Hotel. The workshop provided a platform for all national experts from the three countries to exchange their experiences and share lessons learnt from the implementation of the project. It was reported that the project faced a number of challenges, but in general the pilot organizations appreciate the project. Some of the challenges reported included lack of the SR Standard by pilot organization as they are expensive to acquire, logistical problems to pilot organizations by the experts, lack of commitment by some pilot organization on the project, including limited time given to the project by personnel, the approach used in selecting pilot organizations may not have been appropriate, and the limited time given for implementation of the standard by the project.
5. Second NSBs CEOs meeting –
This is expected to be held in November, involving only the CEOs of the National Standards Bodies for the three countries, GIZ, and ISO representatives.
A Brief on ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility
ISO 26000 is an ISO International Standard giving guidance on Social Responsibility (SR). It is intended for use by organizations of all types, in both public and private sectors, in developed and developing countries, as well as in economies in transition.
It aims to assist organizations in their efforts to operate in the socially responsible manner that society increasingly demands. As you read through the report provided, you will recognize similarities between principles adopted and the requirements of the Kenya Flower Council Code of practice but with a lot more emphasis on good governance.
ISO 26000 contains voluntary guidance, not requirements, and therefore is not for use as a certification standard like ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004.
The Standard provides harmonized, globally relevant guidance for private and public sector organizations of all types based on international consensus among expert representatives of the main stakeholder groups, and so encourages the implementation of best practice in social responsibility worldwide.
ISO 26000 both adds value to existing work on social responsibility (SR) and extends the understanding and implementation of SR by:
- Developing an international consensus on what SR means and the SR issues that organizations need to address.
- Providing guidance on translating principles into effective actions.
- Refining best practices that have already evolved and disseminating the information worldwide for the good of the international community.
Social Responsibility is working its way into many policy debates and corporate agendas. It is an evolution in the approach towards sustainable development. While the 1992 Rio Earth Summit focused on environmental management, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) focused on a broader set of issues, including poverty reduction and social development. Implementing ISO 26000 help organizations realize the objectives set by these international summits.
As many organizations continue to integrate Philanthropy and Social Responsibility into their business strategies, the two differ in everything from what’s required to the way they impact the company and the public.
Philanthropy is short term and may not have a bigger impact to targeted stakeholders, with mostly senior management deciding when and how much to donate, or to whom to award grants. Sometimes, all employees are involved, especially with fundraising events or drives.
Social Responsibility on the other hand is a long term strategy, which not only ensures the organization’s bottom line grows, but also ensures all the stakeholders grow with the organization. For it to succeed, every employee and every department must play a role. It is therefore all inclusive of employees and other stakeholders, takes care of social, economic, and environmental issues in the organization’s sphere of influence, to ensure sustainability.
ISO 26000 has Seven key Principles, and Seven Core Subjects that organizations should embrace in pursuance of sustainability.
The Principles include:
- Ethical behaviour
- Respect for stakeholder interests
- Respect for the rule of law
- Respect for international norms of behaviour
- Respect for human rights
The Seven Core Subjects include:
- 1. Organizational governance 6.2
- 2. Core subject: Human rights 6.3
Issue 1: Due diligence 6.3.3
Issue 2: Human rights risk situations 6.3.4
Issue 3: Avoidance of complicity 6.3.5
Issue 4: Resolving grievances 6.3.6
Issue 5: Discrimination and vulnerable groups 6.3.7
Issue 6: Civil and political rights 6.3.8
Issue 7: Economic, social and cultural rights 6.3.9
Issue 8: Fundamental principles and rights at work
3. Core subject: Labour practices 6.4
Issue 1: Employment and employment relationships 6.4.3
Issue 2: Conditions of work and social protection 6.4.4
Issue 3: Social dialogue 6.4.5
Issue 4: Health and safety at work 6.4.6
Issue 5: Human development and training in the workplace 6.4.7
4. Core subject: The environment 6.5
Issue 1: Prevention of pollution 6.5.3
Issue 2: Sustainable resource use 6.5.4
Issue 3: Climate change mitigation and adaptation 6.5.5
Issue 4: Protection of the environment, biodiversity and restoration of natural habitats 6.5.6
5. Core subject: Fair operating practices 6.6
Issue 1: Anti-corruption 6.6.3
Issue 2: Responsible political involvement 6.6.4
Issue 3: Fair competition 6.6.5
Issue 4: Promoting social responsibility in the value chain 6.6.6
Issue 5: Respect for property rights 6.6.7
6. Core subject: Consumer issues 6.7
Issue 1: Fair marketing, factual and unbiased information and fair contractual practices 6.7.3
Issue 2: Protecting consumers’ health and safety 6.7.4
Issue 3: Sustainable consumption 6.7.5
Issue 4: Consumer service, support, and complaint and dispute resolution 6.7.6
Issue 5: Consumer data protection and privacy 6.7.7
Issue 6: Access to essential services 6.7.8
Issue 7: Education and awareness 6.7.9
7. Core subject: Community involvement and development 6.8
Issue 1: Community involvement 6.8.3
Issue 2: Education and culture 6.8.4
Issue 3: Employment creation and skills development 6.8.5
Issue 4: Technology development and access 6.8.6
Issue 5: Wealth and income creation 6.8.7
Issue 6: Health 6.8.8
Issue 7: Social investment
For more information on the standard, kindly visit www.iso.org