CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (ISO 26000)
There are too many definitions of corporate social responsibility given in various journals and papers. However from the point of view of global understanding, the ISO’s Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility, ISO 26000:2010, defines it as below:
“Social responsibility is the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behavior that:
- Contributes to sustainable development, including the health and the welfare of society
- Takes into account the expectations of stakeholders
- Is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behavior,
- Is integrated throughout the organization and practiced in its relationships.”
The overall idea and perception of Corporate Social Responsibility has been contested since the late 19th Century, but there has been diminutive agreement over its definition due to:
- Variances in enthusiasm for CSR as doing it because it is ethical and propagate a good image in the society, thus enhancing business index. Variances in intent as it were not a regulatory requirement.
- Variances in perceptions in segment-wise business environments, ideas, perspectives and methods of theintellectualsinvolved with CSR
- Variances in tribal, ethnic, regional and cultural approaches to business
- Variances in cultural & religious tolerances
Business Perspective of Corporate Social Responsibility CSR
Societal Leaders, business leaders and management intellectuals have commonlyperceivedCorporate Social Responsibility as a reaction to business catastrophes that have accompanied the surprising growth in size, influence, capabilities and power of contemporarybusinesses. That is the growth majorly characterized by the drift of ownership from manual governanceto modern management methods and techniques. Theseup-to-date management techniques haveresultedexplosively higher efficiencies, but has also led to thinning of individual responsibilitieswhich is generally visible only when the businesses get into trouble.
Business leader’s address Corporate Social Responsibility related concerns through specialized and professional business organizations such as the well-known Ascent INSPECTA. Ascent INSPECTA draws its intellectual information from many areas, including management, ethics, psychology, sociology, finance and accounting, sustainability, public affairs and communications.
In order to polish the general tendency to perceiveCorporate Social Responsibility as a reaction to corporate business failures, the Corporate Social Responsibility perceptions have been re-modelledto national and cultural contexts, so that they fit-in well.
The progression of corporate social responsibility in India speaks about the changes in cultural norms of engagement of corporate social responsibility by the businesses over time. CSR directed businesses were managed to bring about an overall positive impact on the communities, cultures, societies and environments in which they operate. The basics of Corporate Social Responsibility rests on the fact that not only government policies but even corporates should start taking the accountabilities enough to address social issues. This necessarily means that the corporate organizations should share the challenges and issues looked after to a certain extent by the states and the federal.
Compared to most of the nations, India bears one of the most ancient traditions of Corporate Social Responsibility. Ironically, thesetraditions are not practiced very regularly or just for namesake especially by MNCs having no cultural and emotional bondingwith India. Although, there have been significant steps taken in the recent years to make Indian Businesses aware of social responsibility& accountability as an vitalfactor of their business activities but Corporate Social Responsibility in India has yet to receive an extensiveacknowledgement. For this goal to realize, then the Corporate Social Responsibility approach of corporates must be synchronized with their attitudes towards the core business.
Principles of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The overall mechanism of ISO 26000 based Corporate Social Responsibility is based on 7 CSR principles, and this is explained in a generic view, within the ISO 26000 standard. Following are the 7 principles of CSR:
- Accountability: An organization should be accountable for its impacts on society, the economy and theenvironment.
- Transparency: An organization should be transparent in its decisions and activities that impact on societyand the environment.
- Ethical behavior: An organization should behave ethically.
- Respect for stakeholder interests: An organization should respect, consider and respond to the interests of its stakeholders.
- Respect for the rule of law: An organization should accept that respect for the rule of law is mandatory.
- Respect for international norms of behavior: An organization should respect international norms of behavior, while adhering to theprinciple of respect for the rule of law.
- Respect for human rights:An organization should respect human rights and recognize both their importance and theiruniversality
Recognizing Social Responsibility
In order to effectively addressing Social Responsibility within an organization, it is expected that the three relationships are considered:
- Relationship between the organization and society: The organization must understand the impacts on the society, due to its acts and operations vis-à-vis the expectations of the society, on such impacts.
- Relationship between the organization and its stakeholders: An organization must recognize its stakeholders and understand their interests could be affected by the organizational decisions and activities
- Relationship between stakeholders and society: Just like the first one, an organization must understand how the stakeholder’s interests affected by the organization, could impact the society, vis-à-vis the societal expectations on those impacts.
Identifying the CSR stakeholders
In order to address this area, the ISO 26000 has provided a much optimized set of questions to consider. Any individual or group should be understood as a stakeholder, following are the questions the organization should ask itself:
- With which individuals or groups does the organization have legal obligations?
- Which individuals or groups might be negatively or positively affected by the organization's decisions or activities?
- Which individuals or groups are likely to express their concerns about the decisions and activities of the organization?
- Which individuals or groups have been involved when similar concerns needed to be addressed in the past?
- Which individuals or groups can help the organization address specific corporate social responsibility impacts?
- Which individuals or groups can affect the organization's capability to meet its responsibilities?
- Which individuals or groups would be disadvantaged if excluded from the CSR engagement?
- Which individuals or groups in the value chain are affected?
These questions are a brilliant mechanism to identify stakeholders so that this can be addressed based on the magnitude and nature of impacts and reactions.
CSR Stakeholder engagement
Based on the identified list of stakeholders and their potential and current concerns, the organization must initiate dialogues between the organization and one or more of its stakeholders. This helps the organization in addressing its social responsibility by providing factual information platform to frame its decisions.
Such information from the stakeholders can practically help the organization to:
- increase an organization's vision and understanding of the most likely consequences of its decisions and activities onspecific stakeholders;
- determine how best to enhance the beneficial effects of the organization's decisions and activities andhow to reduce any adversativeeffect;
- understand if the organization's say about its social responsibility are seemingly credible and appreciated;
- review the organizational performance and determine areas for improvement;
- settle conflicts related to its own interests, with those of its stakeholders and the expectations of society asa whole;
- address the relation between the interests of its stakeholders' and its responsibilities towards the societyat large;
- continuous learning
- meet to legal compulsions (for instance with neighborhood)
- addressing conflicting interests, both between stakeholders, and the organization and its stakeholders
- provide the organization with an opportunity to understand diverse perspectives
- enhancevisibilityof its decisions and activities; and
- Generate platforms to engage into partnerships to achieve mutually beneficial aims.
Seven Core Subjects in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Based on the ISO 26000 standard guidance on Corporate Social Responsibility, an organization must set forth, 7 basic and core subjects in order to set its scope of CSR application:
1) Organizational governance:
Organizational governance is the system by which anorganization develops and implements decisions in search of its CSR objectives.
2) Human rights:
Human rights are the basic rights to which all human beings are entitled. This consists of two major segments. Firstly, the political and civil rights that include the right to live liberal have freedom of expression, equality and justice in the eyes of law. Secondly, cultural, social and economic rights that include rights to choose a religion, attain basic financial credibility, food, health and social security etc.
The standard guides us to effectively address 8 major issues within human rights which are
- due diligence
- human rights risk situations
- avoidance of complicity
- resolving grievances
- discrimination and vulnerable groups involving women and girls, people with disabilities, children, indigenous people, migrants, people discriminated against on the basis of their descent, eg caste, people discriminated against of the basis of their race, other vulnerable groups like the people affected by HIV/AIDS, old age, displaced, poor, illiterate and with different religious backgrounds
- civil and political rights
- economic, social and cultural rights
- fundamental principles and rights at work
3) Labor practices:
Labor practices include the staffing and promotion of laborers; disciplinary and complaint procedures; thetransport, transfer and relocation of workers; termination; learning & development; health, safetyand industrial hygiene; policies affecting conditions at work, particularly working time andsalary. Labor practices also include the recognition of labor unions, representation andparticipation of both worker and employer in collective bargaining, social dialogues and rights to third partyconsultation to address issues related to employment.
The standard expects 5 issues to be considered to address this core subject
- employment and employment relationships
- conditions of work and social protection
- social dialogue
- health & safety at work
- human development & training in the workplace
Other than these issues, the organization can address other issues based on its actual environment.
4) The environment:
The decisions and activities of the organizations invariably has impacts on the environment in relation to usage of resources, generation of pollution and wastes, disturbances created in natural habitats, deforestation and impacts on flora and fauna.
The standard ISO 26000 emphasizes on consideration of 4 major issues within the implementable CSR. These are:
- Prevention of pollution and this relates to emissions to air, discharges to water, use and disposal of toxic and hazardous chemicals, waste management, and other identifiable forms of pollution.
- Sustainableresource use, with 4 key areas – energy efficiency, use and access to water and water consumption, efficiency in the use of materials and minimized resource requirement of the products
- Climate change mitigation andadaption
- Protection of environment, biodiversity and restoration of naturalhabitats with the key aspects including valuing and protecting biodiversity, valuing, protecting and restoring ecosystem services, using land and natural resources sustainably, advancing environmentally sound urban and rural development
5) Fair operating practices:
This part is concerning ethical conduct in dealings with other organizations. Theseinvolverelations between organizations, relations with other government agencies, partners, suppliers, contractors, customers, competitors, and the subscribed memberships.
The standard ISO 26000 emphasizes on 5 different issues that must be considered while designing the CSR system. They are:
- Anti-corruption that undermines the ethical reputation of the organization including bribery, conflict of interest, embezzlement, fraud, concealment and obstruction of justice, money laundering and usage of influence and power for private gains.
- Responsible political involvement is about supporting public political processes and policies that are beneficial for the development of society at large. Policies for prohibition of intimidation, coercion and manipulation are must.
- Fair competition speaks about anti-competitive behaviors such as price fixing, where parties conspire to sell the same product or service at the same price; bid rigging, where parties conspire to unethically manipulate acompetitive offer; and predatory pricing, which is selling at a unreasonably low price with the intentof depleting or deleting competitors list and imposing unfair sanctions on competitor organizations.
- Promoting social responsibility in the value chain. A value chain is the series of all stakeholders involved within a defined CSR system, and
- Respect for property rights
6) Consumer issues:
These are the issues related to social responsibility andincluding other areas, it invariably includes fair marketing practices,protection of safety and health, sustainable consumption, consumer dispute resolution and redressal, protection of consumer data and privacy, providing access to essential products and services, addressing the needs of vulnerable and disadvantagedconsumers, and education.
The ISO 26000 standard emphasizes on 7 major issues that need to be addressed within the CSR. They are:
- Fair marketing, factual and unbiasedinformation and fair contractualpractices
- Protecting consumer’s health & safety
- Sustainable consumption
- Customer support, service, complaint and dispute resolution
- Consumer data protection and privacy
- Access to essential services, and
- Education and awareness
7) Community involvement and development:
It is widely accepted today that organizations have a relationship with the communities in which they operate.This relationship should be based on community involvement so as to contribute to community development.Community involvement – either individually or through associations seeking to enhance the public good –helps to strengthen civil society. Organizations that engage in a respectful manner with the communities and its institutions reflect and reinforce democratic and civic values.
The ISO 26000 standard emphasizes on 7 major issues that need to be addressed within the CSR. They are:
- Community development
- Education and culture
- Employment creation and skills development
- Technology development and access
- Wealth and income creation
- Health, and
- Social investment
How can Ascent INSPECTA help you develop a CSR and achieve excellence?
Ascent INSPECTA has been involved in a wide range of Social Responsibility programs and events since the last 2 decades when the technology has rapidly grown in comparison to the yester years. Ascent INSPECTA has worked hand-in-hand with corporate organizations to understand the concept, benefits and transformation of policies to actual visible benefits.
Ascent INSPECTA provides end-to-end solutions, based on the level of expectation of its clients to understand, identify, analyze, establish and exercise various elements of CSR, with an output that reflects financial and strategic benefits to the organizations. Ascent INSPECTA generally works in the following manner in order to establish your customized CSR culture:
- Understand the needs and expectations of the organization
- Diagnosis of the entire business mechanism including employees, processes, interactions, regulations, relationships and others. This is done in the form of a gap analysis where specially designed benchmarks are used.
- Establishing the areas of interest and where the management can see visible benefits
- Identify the stakeholders and communities within the viable scope of CSR
- Understanding of issues, risks and opportunities based on type and nature of relationships within the stakeholders and the communities.
- Establish workable policies within the capabilities of the organization
- Developing mechanisms how these policies can be communicated within the supply chain and feedbacks takes
- Mechanisms of implementation of such policies, where required through usage of documented procedures
- Training the interactive elements on special modules to understand the needs and effects of CSR, and how they are responsible.
- Auditing the implemented CSR
- Identify areas of improvement and the achievement of benefits due to the new approach.
Ascent INSPECTA has various mechanisms of contractual understandings with clients; those are based on their needs and expectations. Ascent INSPECTA generally engages into highly challenging environments where the client’s needs relate to:
- Attainment of status and awards to demonstrate to customers, or others
- Polishing intents of community development where the project is classified in stages where Ascent INSPECTA takes the accountability to achieve results and demonstration before further stages are executed.
- Just to present a true picture of CSR status to the organization’s management
- Development of policies only
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