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Thomas Watson Sr., the former chairman and CEO of IBM, once said, "Good design is good business." His words are as true now as they were then, especially when designing and implementing social responsibility strategies aligned with ISO 26000 guidelines.




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Flevy Management Insights: ISO 26000


Thomas Watson Sr., the former chairman and CEO of IBM, once said, "Good design is good business." His words are as true now as they were then, especially when designing and implementing social responsibility strategies aligned with ISO 26000 guidelines.

ISO 26000 is a voluntary international standard, aimed at integrating social and environmental considerations into business strategies. It assists organizations, regardless of their type or size, in contributing to sustainable development. Increasingly, ISO 26000 is becoming a cornerstone in Strategic Planning for socially conscious businesses because it emphasizes the need for organizations to operate in socially responsible ways that go beyond mere compliance and towards engagement in activities that add greater value to society.

ISO 26000's Key Principles

Aligning ISO 26000 with Strategic Planning

Integrating ISO 26000 with Strategic Planning involves understanding and aligning with stakeholder needs, creating culture-driven strategies, and executing those strategies with the requisite responsibility.

Conversations with stakeholders allow for better insights into their needs and expectations. Aligning business strategy to meet these needs not only fosters goodwill but also motivates the stakeholders to support business objectives— a critical element in Risk Management.

Creating culture-driven strategies is vital in Change Management. By integrating ISO 26000 into the organization's culture, a business can build internally consistent systems of social responsibility across all departments, fostering team cohesion and a shared vision of social responsibility.

Lastly, the strategy execution phase necessitates careful monitoring and review of the organization's practices and their impact on all stakeholders. The organization must ensure that its operations are conducted responsibly, and any adverse effects are mitigated promptly.

Business Case for ISO 26000

ISO 26000 can provide your organization with a competitive advantage by boosting your company's reputation, attracting socially conscious customers and investors, and improving your relationship with local communities. According to a 2020 McKinsey study, companies that lead in areas of social responsibility also lead in financial returns, often outperforming their peers by over 25%.

Implementation and Performance Management

For successful implementation of ISO 26000, it is important for C-level executives to combine their leadership skills with a deep understanding of the standard's requirements. Establishing an Integration Task Force comprising cross-functional teams is a good practice.

In terms of Performance Management, indicators like customer satisfaction surveys, employee engagement surveys, and community involvement assessments can be used to gauge the organization's performance. Benchmarking these metrics not only ensures accountability but also helps the organization improve and adapt over time.

You might encounter resistance from various quarters while implementing ISO 26000, but please remember that such resistance is often part of the process. Our experience suggests that overcoming this resistance can lead to a stronger organization, a more sustainable business model, and robust public relations.

ISO 26000 is more than a standard—it represents a shift in the mindset and a commitment to social responsibility. Adopting it requires an investment in time and resources, but the potential multifaceted returns are well-worth the effort.

For effective implementation, take a look at these ISO 26000 best practices:


Explore related management topics: Change Management Strategic Planning Performance Management Risk Management Competitive Advantage Employee Engagement Customer Satisfaction Strategy Execution Public Relations Corporate Social Responsibility




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