What Is ISO 26000 And Why It Is Important

What Is ISO 26000 And Why It Is Important

ISO 26000, also known as ISO SR, is an international standard that was created in 2010 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It provides guidelines on how businesses should engage in social responsibility in areas that align with their mission, vision, company policy, and stakeholders’ interests.

The ISO 26000 standard provides guidelines on how different business should implement their social responsibility engagements. The certification requires organizations that comply with it to uphold transparency, ethical behavior, and prioritize the welfare of society.

The Seven Key Principles of ISO 26000

To enhance the outcomes of social responsibility, ISO 26000 anchors heavily on the following seven fundamental principles;


The principle of accountability makes organizations accountable for their impact on society, environment, and economy. Organizations must be held responsible for their negative impacts as they pursue their interest. It rests the obligation of ensuring socially responsible behavior squarely on the shoulders of the management.

This principle urges organizations to assess their contribution. Organizations should forecast and possibly avoid negative impacts, but when they occur, they should face legal authorities.


Organizations must be transparent about the decisions and activities that impact the society, stakeholders, environment, and the economy.

Your organization can adhere to this principle by availing all documentation related to your social responsibility engagements.  This data should be accessible to relevant authorities. It should also be available to the stakeholders your organization’s decisions, policies, and activities affect directly.

Though the principle of transparency aims to enhance openness, organizations are exempted from making sensitive information available to the public.

Ethical Behavior

Organizations that comply with the ISO 26000 standard are expected to behave ethically. The complying organizations must observe ethical values like honesty, integrity, and equity as they engage in CSR.

This principle demands that your organization must exhibit genuine concern for human welfare, animal life, and the environment.  No human, animal, or plant life should be jeopardized because of your CSR activities.

Respect for Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people who are directly affected by the organization’s activities or have the capacity to contribute to the organization’s interests.

As an ISO 26000 compliant business, your organization must identify its stakeholders, consider their opinions, and respect their interests in the organization.

Respect for the Rule of Law

The ISO 26000 standard doesn’t aim to replace any existing business regulations and laws. On the contrary, it aims to work seamlessly with existing regulations and guidelines. Your organization should comply with the laws and regulations that govern the environment in which your business operates.

Respect to International Norms of Behavior

Complying with the local laws and regulations isn’t enough. Organizations should adhere to the international norms of behavior. Unlike most businesses that exploit loopholes in business regulations, an ISO 26000 compliant business should respect the norms of behavior that encourage harmonious business relations wherever they operate.

Respect for Human Rights

Organizations must respect the universality of human rights. As a compliant business, your organization should not take advantage of loopholes in the law to undermine human rights. Instead, where the law isn’t clear, respect the international norms of behavior.

The Seven core subjects of ISO 26000

These are the seven core subjects addressed in the ISO 26000 standard. Compliant organizations must identify the issues they wish to tackle, of course, in order of priority and synchronicity with the organization’s mission, vision, activities, and stakeholder agreements.

Organizational Governance 

The subject of organizational governance peeks into how your business makes decisions and formulates strategies to implement them. The decision-making process should be structured to include strategies for social responsibility engagement and application of the principles of SR.

Human Rights 

Human rights are basic entitlements that every business should strive to uphold and respect. Your business should collaborate with stakeholders to support human rights in your operations.

Labor Practices 

Organizations must operate under all labor laws, policies, and guidelines. The scope of this subject covers hiring practices, health and safety of workers, training and skill development, and promotion. The organization must comply with labor laws and requirements, even when dealing with subcontractors.

The Environment 

All businesses have an impact on the environment in which they operate, however small. Every business must, therefore, ponder over decisions they make that might harm the environment. Decisions that pertain to resource use, pollution, and waste disposal must consider the impact they leave on the environment. The goal is to minimize adverse effects while creating approaches to enhance good environmental impact. 

Operating Practices

This is the core subject that addresses how a business should uphold ethical conduct when doing business with its stakeholders, including suppliers. This subject also addresses issues of anti-corruption, respect of laws and regulations, and the promotion of socially responsible behaviors in the business engagements. 

Consumer Issues 

This core compels businesses to disclose relevant information about their products and services to the consumers. While transparency is essential in business dealings, it is also essential to empower consumers with product knowledge, so they know how your product will impact their lives.

This core subject addresses the issues of fair marketing, consumer data protection, and consumer support. Complying to this core not only allows you to genuinely cater to customers but also improves the reputation of your organization.

Community Involvement and Development

Community involvement is an integral part of contributing to sustainable development. Organizations must recognize the importance of the communities they operate in and involve them in their programs.

Job creation, skill development, and social investment are just a few ways your organization provides value to the community. Community involvement and development, when well executed, will bear good results for both parties.

How Can Organizations Benefit from ISO 26000 Compliance?

ISO 26000 compliance generally improves the relations between your organization and the parties it does business with. Here are the benefits you can draw from the ISO SR:

Human Resources – By complying with the standard, your organization will easily attract and retain its workers, members, suppliers, and clients.

Improves brand image and reputation- The ISO 26000 details the ethical ways of business involvement with the communities they operate in. This further builds a favorable image for your business and enhances its reputation.

Improves employee commitment- Employees are more committed where they feel the overarching goals of the organization are driven by respect to human rights and societal values.

Improved relations with stakeholders- an organization that complies with the ISO 26000 exhibits a level of transparency that is admired by government authorities, the media, and community leaders. Business relationships improve where integrity flourishes.

In conclusion, the ISO 26000 gives a detailed framework upon which organizations can practice social responsibility. Complying with the standard shows your organization observes ethical practices, values the community, and adheres to regulations.

Author Bio: Jordan MacAvoy is the Vice President of Marketing at Reciprocity Labs and manages the company’s go to market strategy and execution. Prior to joining Reciprocity, Mr. MacAvoy served in executive roles at Fundbox, a Forbes Next Billion Dollar Company, and Intuit, via their acquisition of the SaaS marketing and communications solution, Demandforce.