New international social responsibility standard

100 countries and 40 international organisations behind the development of a common international social responsibility standard. The Norwegian launch was at DNV’s headquarters today.

After five years of work involving participation from 100 countries and 40 international organisations, a common international social responsibility standard (ISO 26000) was launched November 1. Today was the Norwegian launch at DNV’s headquarters.

“The fact that our world has developed a common understanding, a new standard, for how we can all run our commercial activities in a long-term, socially responsible manner is progress. This standard will create new expectations which everyone will have to strive to meet and deliver on,” said Sven Mollekleiv, DNV’s Director for Corporate Relations and CSR, when he addressed over 190 delegates from the public and private sectors.

ISO 26000 Guidance on social responsibility is a guidance tool for all types of enterprises, public and private, large and small, which makes implementing social responsibility easy according to Standards Norway, which holds the publishing rights to the new standard in Norway.

The core areas of the new standard will cover organisational governance, human rights, labour practices, the environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues and community involvement and development.

The new social responsibility standard means there is no longer any doubt about how to understand the concept of social responsibility or what kind of principles apply to social responsibility. ISO 26000 provides step by step guidance to all types of organisations. It covers all the important terms and definitions, stipulates how to identify interested parties and communicate with them and examines the relationship between sustainable development and social responsibility.

“This is the greatest international work on social responsibility ever carried out,” says Trine Tveter, the CEO of Standards Norway. “500 experts from almost 100 countries and 40 organisations have taken part in demanding processes, and we are very pleased that the standard has received so much support.”

A tool for enterprises

Rikke Lind, State Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry added, “ISO 26000 now gives all types of enterprises a tool for taking social responsibility seriously and Norwegian companies are urged to start using it. We congratulate ISO on its extensive work and believe this standard will provide useful guidance to both private and public enterprises.”

Staffan Soderberg, vice chair in the international standard work and Director of Corporate Partners WWF Sweden, said that consumer organisation called for a social responsibility standard. The consumer should not have a choice, and sustainable products and services should be standard as soon as possible, he stated. “ISO 26000 gives guidance to all types of organisation that want to contribute to sustainable development. With the right standards and tools, all markets can and will change.”

The launch ceremony also included a presentation by Sten Magnus, head of NHO’s Committee on Ethics and corporate social responsibility, who shared his reflections over the standard and its implications There was also panel discussion titled: ISO 26000 – how will it be used? Mr Soderberg and Mr Magnus were joined on stage by four other panellists Eli Bleie Munkelien (KLP) Heidi von Weltzien Høivik (BI) Cathrine Dehli, Choice and Einar Flydal, Telenor/NTNU.

A major global reference point

Commenting on the sidelines, Ingebjørg Gravlien, Senior Consultant in DNV’s Risk Management and Corporate Responsibility Unit, said. “The new standard is voluntary and has received overwhelming acceptance from more than 90 countries globally. We firmly believe that the standard will become a major global reference point for social responsibility, setting the norm for both the conceptual understanding and the practical implementation of social responsibility in the time to come.”

The international work group has included representatives of the Standard Norge, Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Norwegian Consumer Council, Hedmark University College, Telenor, DNV, the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) and CSR Management. In addition, 40 people have been members of a Norwegian mirror committee in order to ensure that Norwegian interests are safeguarded in the international work.

Source: Det Norske Veritas

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