The national standards body in France, AFNOR, has submitted a proposal to the ISO membership to create a new ISO technical committee (TC) on social responsibility (SR).
The proposed scope of work:
Standardization in the field of Social Responsibility to provide guidance and framework to all types of organizations, regardless of their size, activity or location. It allows organizations to challenge their own practices, define their corporate social responsibility and thus devise strategies to enhance their contribution to sustainable development.
Types of deliverables foreseen:
The purpose is to develop a set of standards to become the “ISO 26000 series”:
* Standard ISO 26000
* Implementation standard(s)
* Specific social responsibility issues: standards, technical specifications, technical reports
AFNOR is known for well managed standardization work and have developed very many succesful supporting national deliverables related to ISO 26000. AFNOR also managed the stakeholder process that developed ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement – guidance, which is an application of ISO 26000. The TC SR proposal seems well structured. Preferably the word corporate in the scope statement will be deleted.
In the end it is all about the work plan and process of the proposed TC:
* Will the process be as inclusive and balanced as when ISO 26000 was developed?
The 2005-2010 process was the broadest and most balanced stakeholder dialogue in the world, which in turn created legitimacy and credibility. 450 national individual experts from 90 countries (not national delegations) and 40 international organisations, negotiated for 5 years and resolved 25,000+ written comments in a process that was almost balanced between regions (developed/developing), gender, and stakeholder categories. The AFNOR proposal does not contain any set conditions for the process and therefore the proposal is a normal ISO-process: national delegations and stakeholders/experts balance decided by national standards bodies.
* Will the proposed revision of ISO 26000 result in a new generic or short guidance document, or will the carefully negotiated guidance in substance be kept?
The main argument for revising ISO 26000 now is the need to make it more aligned with Agenda 2030 and other developments since 2010. This is a valid reason, but as there are no set conditions for the product it means, according to normal ISO-process rules, that all parts of ISO 26000 can be revised. If the process, as proposed, is less stakeholder balanced, there is clear risk that ISO 26000 may be renegotiated into a shorter and simpler document offering less practical guidance.
* Will the planned additional deliverables include new certifiable standards?
According to the AFNOR representative consulted it is likely.
* Will the ongoing work in related TCs/PCs e.g. sustainable finance, environment, sustainable procurement, sustainable communities, understand and support the proposal?
According to the AFNOR representative consulted the affected existing ISO TCs are in favor. The AFNOR proposal “will bring consistency between the different ISO standards related to governance, social, economic or environmental aspects.”. The challenge here is that normally an ISO TC is not given mandate over another TC, let alone all other TCs. This mandate lies with ISO TMB.
This and much more will be discussed by the 160+ ISO member countries who will vote by July 14. The result of the ballot will be evaluated by ISO Technical Management Board and decided through correspondence, hopefully before mid-August. If any TMB member wants the issue to be discussed at a formal TMB meeting it will instead be decided at the TMB meeting in September.