Social responsibility: impacting the bottom line

Last week saw the official launch of ISO 26000 in Zimbabwe, the first internationally approved standard to provide guidance on social responsibility to both the business and public sector in developed and developing countries.

Charlene Hewatt chaired the Zimbabwe committee responsible for writing the guidelines.
Charlene Hewatt chaired the Zimbabwe committee responsible for writing the guidelines.

Charlene Hewat, CEO of Environment Africa, chairs the Zimbabwe ISO26000 committee and was a co-convenor of one of the five international ISO Working Groups on Social Responsibility tasked with developing and writing guidelines on the core Social Responsibility issues.

What is exciting about this standard for Zimbabwe is that 69 of the 99 member countries represented in the development of the ISO 26000 standard were from developing nations.

Hewat emphasized that social responsibility was not just about public relations or donations to charity. It should be a real commitment to sustainability and accountability for the impact of a company’s actions. In short, it is no longer just the financial ‘bottom-line’ that people measure an organization on anymore but rather it is the impact the organization has on the environment and society as well as on the economy.

ISO 26000 was developed to respond to an increasing global need for clear and balanced best practice on how to ensure social equity, healthy ecosystems and good organizational governance, with the ultimate objective of contributing to sustainable development.

In today’s global climate, sustainable business for organizations means not only providing products and services that satisfy consumers, but doing it in a manner that does not negatively impact the environment, while at the same time operating in a socially responsible manner.

By adopting and implementing ISO 26000, an organization would be taking into consideration societal, environmental, legal, cultural, political and organizational diversity, as well as differences in economic conditions, while being consistent with international norms of behaviour.

According to the standard, the perception and reality of an organization's performance on social responsibility can influence, among other things:

• Competitive advantage

• Reputation

• Ability to attract and retain workers or members, customers, clients or users

• Maintenance of employees' morale, commitment and productivity

• View of investors, owners, donors, sponsors and the financial community;

• Relationship with companies, governments, the media, suppliers, peers, customers and the community in which it operates. –

In a little box at end:

With the launch of ISO 26000 in Zimbabwe, we have the opportunity to be a global leader in social responsibility. You can purchase your ISO 26000 guideline standard from the Standards Association of Zimbabwe,

Post published in: Environment

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