Some thoughts on the characteristics of social responsibility and why
certification does not make sense.
Social responsibility has to do with societies and their attendant cultural norms. But societies differ: by nations and regions, history, political system, culture, religion, level of education, beliefs, ways of thinking, affluence and poverty, level of law and regulation, and other factors. Different societies follow different customs and standards, written ones and non-written ones. Societies want to develop but also to maintain their special character. So, the real question on social responsibility is: “What kind of “contribution to society” can an organization offer and realize?”
To behave in a socially responsible manner is something full of dynamics because societies’ needs and demands change on a daily basis. These permanently changing priorities challenge the creativity of organizations, staff and leadership, in identifying the currently most important and effective contributions. ISO has taken a wise decision to offer “only” a guidance standard, and has banned certification, jointly with IAF, the International Accreditation Forum. See ISO's press release
“It's crystal clear. No certification to ISO 26000 guidance standard on social Responsibility”
Why a “wise decision”? Because certification is only a snapshot in time, tending to make one believe in having made all possible contributions to society, thereby serving to stifle this crucial creativity. In other words, a “social responsibility certificate” would demonstrate that both the receiver and the issuer may not have sufficiently understood the essential character of social responsibility: its dynamics. So, to certify a socially responsible behaviour of an organization is something theoretical, an artificial construct. In consequence, a certificate on SR (social responsibility) or CSR (corporate social responsibility) would not say anything meaningful. Again, ISO has taken a wise decision that there is no ISO 26000 certificate.
The ISO 26000 says this very clearly in its scope: “This International Standard is not a management system standard. It is not intended or appropriate for certification purposes or regulatory or contractual use. Any offer to certify, or claims to be certified, to ISO 26000 would be a misrepresentation of the intent and purpose and a misuse of this International Standard. As this International Standard does not contain requirements, any such certification would not be a demonstration of conformity with this International Standard.”
The same logic applies to certifiable derivative standards like the Danish Standard Social responsibility management system – Specifications that builds on ISO 26000, uses all the internationally gathered know-how, transposes it into a
so-called "management system" (can one "manage" behaviour?), contains requirements and thereby renders it certifiable. However, as just mentioned, also a “Danish Certificate” would not necessarily represent anything.
Quite to the contrary:
considering social responsibility as a checklist of ‘things’ to tick on places its creative character upside down!
More thoughts on the non-certification of the guidance standard ISO 26000 are offered on sub-sites to this website
in English, Spanish and German.