ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Management System

ISO 26000 is defined as the international standard developed to help organizations effectively assess and address social responsibilities that are relevant and significant to their mission and vision; operations and processes; customers, employees, communities, and other stakeholders; and environmental impact.

  • Is intended as guidance, not for certification
  • Presents a comprehensive documentation of social responsibilities including core subjects and issues related to those subjects
  • Was published in 2010 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a specialized international agency for standardization composed of the national standards bodies of more than 160 countries
  • Was written by a unique multi-sectoral group representing governments; non-governmental organizations (NGOs); industry; consumer groups; labor; and academic, consulting, and other organizations around the world
  • More than 400 experts and 200 observers from 99 countries and 42 international organizations contributed to the development effort
  • Last reviewed for possible revision in 2014

The ISO 26000 standard provides guidance on:

  • Recognizing social responsibility and engaging stakeholders
  • Ways to integrate socially responsible behavior into the organization
  • The seven key underlying principles of social responsibility:
    • Accountability
    • Transparency
    • Ethical behavior
    • Respect for stakeholder interests
    • Respect for the rule of law
    • Respect for international norms of behavior
    • Respect for human rights
  • The seven core subjects and issues pertaining to social responsibility:
    • Organizational governance
    • Human rights
    • Labor practices
    • The environment
    • Fair operating practices
    • Consumer issues
    • Community involvement and development

In addition to providing definitions and information to help organizations understand and address social responsibility, ISO 26000-2010 emphasizes the importance of results and improvements in performance on social responsibility.


Organizations in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, whether large or small, and whether operating in developed or developing countries, use ISO 26000. All of the core subjects of social responsibility are relevant in some way to every organization.

Since the core subjects cover a number of issues, organizations will benefit when they identify which issues are most relevant and significant for them through examination of their own considerations and dialogue with stakeholders.

What does ISO 26000 accomplish?

ISO 26000 aims to:

  • Assist organizations in addressing their social responsibilities while respecting cultural, societal, environmental, and legal differences and economic development conditions
  • Provide practical guidance related to making social responsibility operational
  • Assist with identifying and engaging with stakeholders and enhancing credibility of reports and claims made about social responsibility
  • Emphasize performance results and improvement
  • Increase confidence and satisfaction in organizations among their customers and other stakeholders
  • Achieve consistency with existing documents, international treaties and conventions, and existing ISO standards
  • Promote common terminology in the social responsibility field
  • Broaden awareness of social responsibility

This standard is not intended to reduce government’s authority to address the social responsibility of organizations.

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