A new common framework for Corporate Social Responsibility: the international standard ISO 26000 - Leading by reputation - Corporate Excellence
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Public Affairs

Insights November 2011

A new common framework for Corporate Social Responsibility: the international standard ISO 26000

The publication of the ISO 26000 guidance is an important advance in an area where so far there have been many efforts to establish several different standards of certification. It is the only norm not requiring certification on which a consensus has been reached, perhaps because it possesses one of the essential qualities of CSR: it is a completely voluntary standard.

It was drawn up with the cooperation of 2,000 experts from different areas (consultants, NGOs and associations), and countries, headed by the teams from Brazil and Sweden and associated with ISO, after the organization had noticed that there were different national standards, although all involved professed a common goal: that of promoting a common framework, vision, and terminology. The norm can be understood as a standard to be adopted internationally even though at present the Europeans have shown more interest in it and in putting it into effect than the Americans. The fact that the norm is non-compulsory is perhaps its most striking feature, in so far as it focuses on the voluntary nature of CSR as far as organizations are concerned, as opposed to the view of those experts and professionals who strongly feel that it should be compulsory and that rules should be strictly binding, within a framework similar to that of legislation.

Document prepared by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership with reference to, among other sources, the intervention of Antonio Argandona (professor of Economics and holder of the ‘la Caixa’ chair in CSR and Corporate Governance at IESE) during the sessions of the Executive Education Program “Making Social Responsibility Work: The Cornerstone of Sustainable Business” organized by IESE Business School in Barcelona in July 2011.